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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

We have just rescued a male 6 month old white GSD who only weighs 18.5kg, he is very bony and definitely underweight.
We've bought him Ivory coat grain free for large breed puppies and I was giving him around 320g a day but after weighing him today (admittedly on different, but should be accurate scales) he is down to around 18kg, he was very nervous and didnt sleep much for the first night and since then has settled in more but he is still very active, running around everywhere. After looking closer at the food it says it is 3500cal/kg and I read an active GSD needs 1700-2100 calories a day so I am guessing an underweight puppy needs around double that?
At the moment he has 2 meals a day, so today for breakfast I gave him 250g of food, plus 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 3 sardines and will do the same for tea. We are going to get him some beef mince, what else can we give him to gain weight?

Thanks
 

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I would actually do some searching about grain free dog foods if I were you. There’s some research that says it’s harmful for dogs. Otherwise, you seem to be doing the right thing. What you are doing should help him gain weight pretty quickly. It will just take some patience and time.
 

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Yes 320g doesn't seem like enough food. I would gradually increase his food until he has more like 4 or 5 cups a day. With a dog that has been starved it's important to bring his food intake up slowly (an extra half a cup a day for example). I would get his body condition back up to normal before you worry too much about what he should be eating.

Also, has he been wormed and checked by a vet? How are his stools?
 

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I know for EPI dogs that they recommend feeding at least double the amount of required food, preferably three times the amount of food, if they will eat that much. Several feedings a day is recommended.
 

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I still feed Lex 3-4 times a day at 6 months. She was on adult formula at 10 weeks. And mostly on raw or dry freeze now with some Fromm kibbles for a snack.
 

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I have to STRONGLY disagree with the advice to free-feed or to feed giant double-meals-- and I also disagree with the recommendation to feed satin balls if you are using one of the dangerous, high-fat recipes circulating on the Internet. Here's why: you could kill a severely malnourished dog by trying some of those ideas.

Most people haven't rehabilitated a very severely malnourished (starved) dog. If it doesn't have EPI and is just starved, you can't just give it a lot of calories quickly and expect it to work out well.

There's something called "refeeding syndrome" that will cause organ shut-down (and rapid death) in those dogs -- large meals and/or free-feeding can trigger it. These dogs need to be fed small, frequent meals -- at least 3 x day, but preferably 4 or even 5. I emphasize SMALL meals here.

They need weekly vet weigh-ins, too. Our vet is an absolute super-star in managing their recovery -- wants slow, steady weight gain, not fast weight gain, because we don't want to compromise long-term health. As for food, we either use a good puppy food (even for adults) or a high calorie food like Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete, as both have more calories than adult food.

Do NOT feed any of the satinball recipes that have added oil (many recipes online suggest adding cooking oil of some kind). You're asking for a case of pancreatis if you do that! Also, absolutely no raw for a dog in this shape--malnourished dogs often are immunocompromised, and they can't handle the normal pathogens common in raw meat.

If you want to add satinballs, keep it simple: mix ground beef, eggs, oats, and wheat germ, and bake the meatballs in the oven (and pour off any grease into the trash). I use organic oats (no Roundup -- these dogs already have trashed gut flora, and you're trying to rebuild it), yard eggs (again, keep the chemical load from the industrial food chain as low as you can), and very good quality farmer's market beef. I have a local guy at the farmer's market who has a dog-food mix that's got organ mean already in it. Otherwise, I prefer a mix of ground chuck and/or beef heart (9 pounds) with a mix of ground kidney and liver (1 pound) when I'm doing this, as I want the nutritional boost of the organ meats. (IMHO, the online satin ball dog-treat recipes that use breakfast cereal are also a bad idea -- there's already a synthetic vitamin pack in the dog food, and you don't need a second synthetic vitamin pack from human breakfast cereal in the satin balls.) Use simple, whole food instead. However, go VERY slowly with these. I bake up a large batch of them (10 pounds of meat) and then freeze them. They'll keep for months.

To be clear, the kind of "underweight" I'm referring to in rescue dogs is severe. I'm not talking about dogs that are "a little thin." Here's an example of a dog we brought back to health (my friend fostered her for our rescue) -- she had several wonderful, loved happy years after this video:

These dogs need to have bloodwork run as part of the vet work up. Sending out a tick panel is also a very good idea, as some tick diseases cause them to not absorb food (I do not mean a snap 4D in-house test, but the full tick panel that goes to out to the lab and test for far more types of tick disease, including babesia).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone, we've had him for 2 weeks now and he's put on about 4kg, he has definitely grown upwards in that time as well so still feels a bit bony but better than before
I have a few more questions unrelated to weight so will be starting a new thread for them
 
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