You might wonder if your dog isn’t gaining weight or if it is losing weight, looks skinnier than other dogs. Perhaps you feel it burns off too much energy when exercising or you’ve been underfeeding your dog.

Some dogs eat a lot without them ever gaining weight, causing you to wonder if there is an underlying medical condition. It is good to have these worries and be curious about the weight of your dog. 

The quick answer is no; your dog shouldn’t look so skinny. Your dog shouldn’t be underweight. But there is a lot more to your dog being skinny like its breed, as large dog breeds are more likely to be skinny, taking up to 3 years to reach their full weight. 

Many people can’t tell the right weight for their dog, and because of the prevalence of obesity, they consider overweight dogs to be the normal weight, leaving them wondering if their normal-sized healthy dog is too skinny.

Is my dog too skinny?

Your dog’s weight is not the only factor that can determine if your dog is skinny or not. Like we humans can use body mass index to determine if we are too big or the right weight, your vet or your dog’s nutritionist can use a Body Condition Score (BCS) to determine if your dog is the right weight. The body condition score calculates the overall body fat and lean muscle in your dog and is a major indicator of your dog’s health

Body condition score makes use of four yardsticks to determine your dog’s weight. These yardsticks are:

  • how easy it is to feel your dog’s ribs
  • how visible are your dog’s waist and abdominal tuck
  • how much excess fat is underneath your dog’s skin 
  • how much muscle mass your dog has 

It combines these into a nine-point scale. An excellent body condition score for your dog usually falls between four or five, as lower numbers from one to three means your dog is skinny and underweight, while higher numbers between six and nine mean your dog is overweight.

How to tell if my dog is too skinny?

Asides from the body condition scale, it can be quite easy to tell if your dog is skinny. Skinny dogs usually have heavily pronounced ribs. Running your finger through your dog’s ribs and not feeling any soft tissue but mostly skin covering the bones is a sign that your dog is skinny.

The dog’s weight is also a good measurement to know if your dog is skinny. You could weigh your dog and compare its weight, age, breed and size to other dogs that fall within the same category. This would give you an understanding of the average weight for your dog’s breed based on its age and size, and help you determine if your dog is skinny or underweight.

Reasons for your dog being too skinny?

Your dog might be skinny because of the presence of a parasite. Some parasites live in your dog’s skin or intestines, sucking out nutrients and living off your dog. These parasites make your dog underweight and malnourished. It is important to visit the vet regularly to check for parasites in your dog.

Also, your dog might be underweight and skinny because of an underlying health condition. Some diseases may cause your dog to lose its appetite and affect its health. If your dog is displaying any unusual symptoms, you should have it checked by your vet.

If your dog is hyperactive or you exercise it a lot, it could be burning up too many calories, causing it to lose weight and appear skinny.

image of why is my dog so skinny

A major reason your dog may be skinny might be because there is a problem with its diet. You might not be giving your dog enough food or might be giving your dog the wrong food. You should note that not all dog foods are the same, as their calories and nutritional value differ according to the brand or maker.

You may think you measure the right amount of food for your dog, but due to brand differences, each measurement contains a different amount of calories and nutrients. A dog loses weight when what he takes is less than what the body uses.

How to help your dog gain weight?

Getting your dog treated if your dog has an underlying illness might go a long way in helping your dog gain healthy weight. Whatever underlying health condition your dog is suffering from would determine the treatment method your vet would use. Treatment might include switching your dog’s diet to a therapeutic formula.

If your vet tells you to switch to a diet with therapeutic formula, your vet will give you instructions on how much you should feed your dog to help them get better and gain healthy weight.

If your dog is extremely skinny, your vet might require you to switch your dog’s diet to one with a high calorie to help your dog gain weight more quickly.

While trying to get your dog to gain weight, it is important that you exercise your dog daily. Taking your dog on a walk or run or ensuring it gets a few minutes of exercise would help your dog’s body system (heart and lungs) function a lot better.

Regularly exercising your dog as you change and upgrade its diet would help it build muscle mass. Also, a lack of exercise may cause your dog to gain weight unevenly, causing health problems for your dog.


When it comes to what your dog eats, your dog’s diet goes a long way in determining how much your dog would weigh. High-quality dog foods contain a higher percentage of important nutrients and ingredients that ensure your dog gets the right amount of nutrition.

While foods containing fillers: low-quality foods require your dog’s digestive system to work harder to break these fillers, using up calories from your dog.

While your puppy is growing, especially if it is of a larger dog breed, it would have special dietary and exercise requirements you would need to take into consideration when feeding it. It is essential to take this into consideration as a large breed dog that grows too quickly has a high chance of suffering from orthopaedic issues later in its lifetime.

Also, for your dog’s diet, it is preferred to feed it dry foods instead of wet foods, as dry foods are rich in carbohydrates that help your dog gain weight.

How much should you feed your dog?

Your dog needs to consume more calories and nutrients than it burns in order for your dog to gain weight. Your dog feed comes with instructions on how much you could feed it; you could feed your dog more than the recommended amount in other for it to gain weight, but be careful not to go overboard and have your dog become obese. It is best to contact your vet on how much food your dog needs.

Also, do not go for a sudden increase in your dog’s meal; you could start by slowly increasing the amount of food you give your dog daily and paying close attention to the scale. Another option is to feed your dog at regular intervals with small batches; you should do this if you just rescued a dog as outrightly increasing its food could cause health issues.

If you notice your dog is still not gaining weight, you could double your dog’s food. It is also advisable to supplement your dog’s diet with healthy treats.

Are some dog breeds naturally skinny?

Yes, depending on your dog’s breed, your dog might be naturally skinny for a few months while growing up. Gigantic dog breeds like the Great Pyrenees, the Great Dane and Mastiffs can take any time between 18-24 months to finish growing and reach their full height. They often appear skinny for a while as they could take up to 3 years to gain their full weight.

Your dog being a gigantic breed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be bothered about it being skinny, especially when it is still growing. It would be best if you still had your dog’s body condition score checked, checked its weight, and compared it to other dogs in its breed. 

We’ve compiled a shortlist of naturally skinny dogs. You could check below to see if your dog is one of these.

  • Mastiffs
  • Saluki
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Whippet
  • Afghan Hound
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Azawakh
  • Great Dane
  • Greyhound
  • Kanni Dog
  • Sloughi
  • Ibizan Hound
  • The Great Pyrenees

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