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36 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi there!

I just made my first post on here last night where I asked for advice on how to help my new shelter rescue gain weight. Someone recommended Satin Balls and after only 10 minutes I fell into an online black hole of pros/cons lists, VERY different recipes, health risks, health benefits, etc. I am wondering what your guys' general thoughts are on Satin Balls and if you guys have any recipes you use personally.

If you didn't see my first post over in the Introductions this is for a 4 year old German Shepherd shelter rescue who I adopted yesterday. She is just getting over Kennel Cough and hasn't been eating her food and is extremely underweight. Wasn't able to snag a picture then but there wasn't a spot on her to pet that didn't just feel like bone.

I am going to try and find her shelter picture to post, stay tuned. ;)

Thank you!

1,843 Posts
So happy you rescued her <3 If you are an experienced adopter and you know this, forgive me. Just figured I would mention just in case. Get her to your own vet and have them check for parasites and protozoa like coccidia and giardia. You have only had her a day, keeps things as simple and comfortable as possible especially since she is recovering from kennel cough. Let her go through her "3 week shelter shutdown" just bonding with you at her pace. Between the KC and new environment she may be picky picky about eating.

Personally for weight gain from a very thin start point, I have always been told keep it simple and don't rush the weight gain. Slow and steady. Just choose a high quality kibble (or single protein complete raw if you are going that direction) and feed a few times a day if you can. You can always make a bone broth to put on her food to entice her, plus it is super healthy and not as varied in recommendation as Satin Balls. Here is a good recipe.

You don't need a crock pot to make it, you should use the raw variety of Apple Cider Vinegar.

Good luck and many happy years with her. And pictures!!!!!!

36 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! Was definitely planning on getting her a vet check up as soon as I can after picking her up. Slow and steady sounds good to me! Thank you for the recipe I think I may try the broth! I'll let you know if I do :)

1,255 Posts
Both my rescues were skin and bones (with VERY matted fur) when I first got them. They were personal rescues, not adopted from the shelter. My experience with my two was slow and steady wins the race. We feed small amount more frequently, instead of the standard morning and night feed they are on now. We monitored weight and calorie intake, and got the formula for the right amount of kibble in each feed, and fed 7-8 times a day. On my Husky we used a slow feeder because he would gulp down the food in mere seconds and whine for more. My GSD was just happy getting any type of regular feeding, so she was easy. They both got to the vets goal weight within 2 months.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

6,164 Posts
Rescuer here with years of experience with truly emaciated dogs and anorexic, sick ones.

I agree about going slowly with weight gain -- in severely emaciated dogs, by going too fast, you can actually trigger something called "re-feeding syndrome" resulting in organ shut down (and death). We do vet-supervised weight gain with weekly weigh-ins when we're recovering a dog in that condition. She has us feed them at least 4 times a day, with small meals.

The food we usually use to promote weight gain is Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete because it's very high calorie, and easily digested (470 kcal/cup). We've had better results with it than with puppy food (which is the other option many people use). It seems to be very well tolerated -- it gives us firm poop more readily than even vet RX food for sensitive tummies.

SATIN BALL WARNING: do not put the oil in the satin balls that many of the online recipes call for! In some dogs, it can cause pancreatitis and major vet issues. There's no way of predicting which one will get sick -- and it can be VERY sick. Moreover, most vegetable oil is nasty stuff that isn't good for dogs. You may have a dog that can tolerate it, or you may not -- but you can't know that in advance, so it's just not worth the risk.

Instead, just buy 70% ground beef. After baking the satin balls and pouring off excess fat in the roasting pan, there's still plenty of fat left, in a natural form that the dog will be able to digest.

I do use my own version of satin balls to stimulate appetite in anorexic dogs. If you warm them up, the steam will stimulate appetite (esp. if you use a little organ meat in them). I used this recipe as a basic guide in rescue for years (omitting the oil, and usually just using lots of organic oats in place of the junky, processed cereal with all its synthetic vitamins):
Dog Treat Recipes ? GPA ? Louisville

The version I make is high-quality ground beef, 10% ground organ mix (like liver and kidney), farmer's market "yard" eggs (with shells ground up and added), *organic* rolled oats, molasses, and sometimes wheat germ. The gelatin is optional. The eggs and oats will hold them together. I bake them in a roasting pan at 400 until medium-rare because most of my fosters are immune-compromised and can't do raw.

I really want to stress that good quality ingredients matter. If you haven't been following the Environmental Working Group's testing of oats, read up on it -- they found Roundup in common, conventional brands of oats like Quaker. Roundup appears to be harmful to good gut bacteria, so you really don't want to feed it to a dog that's emaciated as they need to be replenishing their gut flora instead. I think farmer's market "yard eggs" from free-foraging chickens make a difference too, as they're full of lots of good stuff when the chickens are allowed to forage naturally for bugs, worms, and sprouts vs. getting industrial feed.

I would also have any dog recovering from starvation on a probiotic and and a bovine colostrum supplement certified as "6 hour" colostrum. There's some early research in dogs showing the two together are better than one or the other by itself. This is the colostrum that I use:

Premium Member
4,821 Posts
Hi SocialGSD and WELCOME!:greet:

CometDog gave you good advice on the testing, "shut down" and "slow weight gain"

Keep the dog on the same food she is eating now, for a couple of weeks, before beginning a change in kibble.

IF you change kibble: Always transition with small amounts of new food mixed with old, taking a week or two to change eventually transitioning out the old food.
If stool gets loose, go back to previous amount fed (where stool was solid) and hold at that amount for a few days until his gut gets use to it. Then increase again. This is called "bowel tolerance".

If you decide to use the Satin Balls (or Fat Balls as some call them) recipes, use them in small amounts until you are sure your dogs gut can handle them. Magwart is right......These are high in fat and could throw a dogs gut into whirlwind or worse!

Fat Balls Recipe #1
1 lb ground beef (use ground chuck - "hamburger" may be to fatty if dog has stomach issues)
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 jar all natural peanut butter (make SURE that it does NOT contain a sugar substitute, especially Xylitol)
1 jar (smaller of the sizes) wheat germ (you may want to use an organic product: )
2 packets Knox Gelatin
1 doz egg yolks
1 cup or so of Quaker Oats soaked in Raw Goat’s Milk
Mix up, form balls, freeze.

Fat Ball Recipe #2 - NON Grain
(you may want to cut this recipe in half)
10 pounds of Fatty Ground Meat (Hamburger, Pork (pork should be frozen for two weeks before use), or a mixture! Anything 20% fat or more)
1 pound of grated Cheddar Cheese
4 cans of Tuna Fish - drained
1 (18 oz) jar of peanut butter (make SURE that it does NOT contain a sugar substitute, especially Xylitol)
1 (12-16 oz) bottle of Unsulphered Molasses Here is an organic product:
1 block of Cream Cheese
1 box of Plain Knox Gelatin (found by the Jello)
1 can of Pumpkin (No spices, just plain)
1 (24 oz) tub of full fat Cottage Cheese
8 oz of Dehydrated Potato Flakes - If you can't find these, try PLAIN Instant Mashed Potatoes will work BUT……. READ Labels! Beware of Preservatives and other things that may be added such as BHA, citric acid and sodium bisulfate. The potatoes may include sodium acid pyrophosphate and dipotassium phosphate. Silicon dioxide may be added to prevent the potato flakes from forming clumps during storage. Instant mashed potatoes may include spices, salt and natural and artificial flavors. Here is an organic product:

Mix all of your ingredients together in a LARGE bowl, dish pan or pot. It's best to mix 2-3 ingredients at a time as it blends a little easier. After mixing together well, put into the fridge and chill for 30-40 minutes. Then take out of frig and roll into small balls, place on cookie sheet and freeze. After frozen remove from pan and place balls in a freezer zip lock bag and return to freezer. Thaw before feeding or mixing into kibble.

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