Some rescue dogs are ‘’skin and bones’’ by the time they are rescued. These dogs are the ones found rummaging through dumpsters looking for food or staggering near death on sidewalks. Rescue dogs know how hunger feels, and recovering from a near-death situation is not an easy process. So if you have adopted a rescue dog, you should be ready to help him transition into a healthy pooch.
Remember, helping your rescue dog gain weight is more than just giving them a limitless supply of food. It is a demanding process that needs to be done correctly with a feeding schedule and the right food. So here are a few healthy methods to help your dog gain weight.
Healthy ways to help your rescue dog gain weight
1. Take him to a vet
Before you even introduce him to any diet, you should first consult a vet and get his/her opinion. Since your rescue dog has been alone in the street for a while, it’s good to have the vet examine him and determine if he has any underlying health issue. And if he has any illness, make sure he is treated before introducing him to a high-calorie diet.
Make sure the vet does a fecal test and confirm if there is any sign of intestinal parasites before deworming him. Once the vet has confirmed that he is healthy, you can sit down and prepare a feeding schedule to regain his weight and transition to eating high-quality dog food.
2. Figure out how much weight your dog needs to gain
Many people don’t know how much their dogs should weigh when healthy. So, when visiting the vet, try and find out how much your newly adopted dog should weigh. You can also find out the normal weight of that dog breed online.
Once you have the details, you can start tracking his growth, so create a chart showcasing his current weight and then make sure you record his weight once every week. The chart will help you determine if you are moving in the right direction or need to change his diet. Remember, you want him to regain his weight and not become obese.
3. Feed him high-calorie dog food
The quality of dog food you will feed him is more important than the quantity. So you should look for a food brand that has high protein and fat content. For dry food, look for a delicious meal with a fat content of about 18% and a protein of approximately 30%. Luckily, you can find the list of ingredients on the side of all food containers. Look for a product that has listed any whole meat such as beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb as its first ingredient.
Avoid any food with by-products. Remember, cheap fillers like corn syrup, meat meal, rendered fats, and white floor offer little nutritional benefit.
Supplement the new diet with human food; after all, a considerable percentage of the food he was eating in the dumpster was human food. Some of the best human foods that can help him gain weight include boiled chicken, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Since you will be transitioning him to a new diet, you should be patient with him and do it gradually.
4. Feed your dog the right amount
Even though stomachs don’t shrink when deprived of food, the stretch-receptor nerve impulses are usually affected. Therefore, your dog might feel fuller after consuming a small amount of food. Your emaciated pup will not be able to consume huge amounts of food, so don’t overfeed him too quickly. Over-feeding him can result in a condition known as Refeeding syndrome.
Refeeding syndrome is common among shelter dogs that are fed a considerable amount of food too quickly. This condition can deplete the dog’s supply of magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus resulting in muscle weakness, seizures, nausea, and cardiac abnormalities.
To determine the amount of food he should be eating, you should calculate your pup’s RER (Resting Energy Requirements). Take his weight and multiply by 30 and then add 70 to get his RER. There are numerous RER charts online that can help you determine the required amount of food. During the first few days, you can give him 25% of his RER and then increase it gradually with time.
5. Feed your dog at the right time
A healthy pooch is usually given one or two huge meals every day, but since your skinny dog cannot consume huge quantities of food, you should split his meals into several small portions. Spreading their meal throughout the day will help them eat more without feeling sick. You can split his daily recommended portion into 4 meals that are spread evenly throughout the day.
6. Continue to exercise your dog
Most dog parents exercise their dog to lose weight, but even skinny pups need to stand up and walk. Remember, a huge percentage of some dog’s weight is muscle mass. And since they haven’t had a healthy meal in a while, their muscle mass has reduced. Therefore, they will need to regain their muscles, and the only way to do that is by working out. You can start by taking him for a walk twice per day until it regains its strength.
7. Fill the dietary gaps with supplements
Since your pooch went without a balanced diet for several days or even weeks, he also lost some essential minerals and vitamins. Therefore, he must regain all the essential minerals and vitamins that he lost. So you should give him supplements between meals—one of the essential supplements that your dog needs are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Remember, dogs can’t produce these fatty acids naturally, so they get them from their meals.
All dogs need healthy meals and a warm doggie bed, especially the rescue dogs.
So if you have adopted a rescue dog, you should be ready to do everything humanly possible to make sure that he regains his normal weight. And now that your rescue dog has become a part of your family, you should give him the most nutritious meals and make sure that he exercises and feels at home.
Cynthia Garcia is the editor and content creator at Pet Fashion Week. She’s a passionate pet rescue supporter, and in her free time, she’s always looking for ways to help the community.
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