Puppies need to eat well and eat often. Food is the fuel that their bodies need to grow and to develop, so it makes sense that they need different nutrition than adult dogs. Sometimes puppies need help gaining the weight they need to be happy and healthy. Once it has been determined why your puppy is losing weigh -- or simply is not gaining weight at her optimal rate -- you can take the proper steps to help her get back on track again. There are a number of online weight calculators that can help you estimate what your puppy should weigh at various stages of her life, but taking time for some healthy puppy exams while she is young can help you determine if she is getting the nutrition she needs.
Determine the Cause
Determine what is keeping your puppy from being her ideal weight before starting any new feeding program. It is possible, even if your puppy appears to be healthy, that she has an illness or condition that prevents her from gaining weight. Internal parasites may be preventing her from receiving all of the nutrients from her food. It is also possible that she is fine and is just going through the gangly growth spurt that many puppies seem to go through.
Only a visit to your veterinarian can determine what the underlying cause might be, should your puppy fail to gain sufficient weight. If your puppy has lost more than 10 percent of her body weight in a short time, visit to the veterinarian is in order.
Any dog can be infested by internal parasites, even with excellent care. Dogs who swallow water that's come in contact with feces may develop giardia, and with it, diarrhea that causes weight loss. Hookworms and tapeworms, which attach to the intestinal wall can prevent your puppy from absorbing the nutrients in her food. Your veterinarian can examine your puppy's stool to determine if she has any of these (or other) parasites. Most parasites can be eliminated by keeping your dog's environment clean and with the administration of safe, easily accessed medications when parasites are present.
More Food, More Often
The simplest way to ensure that an otherwise healthy puppy will gain weight is by giving her more food. If she is a tiny puppy, with a small stomach, that might mean adding a feeding to her schedule every day, rather than simply putting more food in her bowl. If your puppy is very active or if she is going through a growth spurt, she might need more than recommended on the food label.
Gradually increase the amount your puppy eats, until she approaches a normal weight for her size and age. Continue to monitor the amount she eats and adjust it as needed.
If your puppy is reluctant to increase the amount of food that she is eating, then consider adding fat to her diet. Fats are calorie dense foods, so even small amounts can help her gain the weight she needs; however, adding a lot of fat to any one meal might make her feel full too quickly. Some healthy foods that contain fat might be olive oil, animal fats, yogurt and cheese, as well as some canned fishes. Satin balls are a tried and true formulation for getting picky eaters to gain weight.
Be careful adding fat to your puppy's diet. Consuming too much fat can lead to pancreatitis.