Skinny Labrador. How can my Lab pup gain weight?

You may have got to your wit’s end trying to get your pup to eat. Dealing with an underweight lab puppy is undoubtedly stressful. This is especially so because Labrador retrievers come from a breed of huge dogs. They are meant to gain muscle and, in most cases, highly prone to being overweight! So how come you are on the opposite side of the scale? Before you try out all things possible to improve the situation, read on to get the real information.

Aside from being skinny, you can notice your puppy is underweight through other red flags. A reduced energy level, poor coat condition, and poor feeding habits become visible. 

Causes of being underweight

Your pooch could be having lower weight for a variety of reasons. Some of the causes can be detected after your visit and consult with your vet or your observations. Be sure to check in with the veterinary before starting any weight-involving program.

 1. Late/No deworming

During its first year, a puppy goes through many vaccinations. In these visits, you are also given some dewormers to get rid of worm infestation. If your puppy is not dewormed, chances are it will experience a lack of appetite over time. You will start noticing the weight drop after a month. With an intestinal parasite infection, the parasite saps the nutrition out of the dog’s food before the dog processes it. 

You should know that puppy feeding is very sensitive. Their initial years demand a lot of muscle build-up, which should be driven by proper feeding.

2. Medical reasons/Illness

When your lab is sick, even feeding can come to a standstill. Inflammatory bowel disease, protein-losing enteropathy, and hypoglycemia are examples of diseases your vet may look for. It could also be cancer, hip dysplasia, or hypothyroidism. All these amidst others could make your dog’s appetite drop.

Diabetes can cause a dog to become underweight. When a dog has an insulin shortage, it doesn’t get any nourishment from its cells. Energy comes from fat and muscle, which eventually causes weight loss.

Your pooch could be teething and endure a lot of pain from it. Whereas this is no disease, if not checked, your puppy’s gums could be swelling. This makes feeding harder leading to skipping meals and dropping his muscle build.

 3. Separation anxiety

Do you go to work or leave your dog alone often? Or you picked them from a rescue center, and he is adjusting to the new environment. Puppies get attached to their owners, and it gets increased as they grow. When your dog is learning a new environment or is alone, they may be depressed for a while. This emotional process draws aback the dog’s desire to eat. 

You will notice your dog’s food bowl still full of kibble and wonder why they didn’t taste it. If this runs for days, recheck your schedule and connection your dog has with you.

4. Low calories in food

You could be giving your lab an unbalanced meal. This will translate to their underweight state. When you fail to have proper ratios of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins, you are unable to determine your puppy’s calorie intake.

5. Picky eater

Even if the word out here is that Labrador retrievers love eating, yours could be different. Your pooch could be picking on some foods you give it and may not have started to like any in particular. You will find yourself changing from one food type to another, only to face pure rejection.

 Tips to help your puppy gain weight

1. Deworm your dog

Say goodbye to ringworms and hookworms, ruining your lab’s appetite by deworming. You can get some from the vet or a pet store. This clears your dog’s gastrointestinal system and ensures they can eat better. 

2. Have a certain exercise routine

You may be attaching exercise to weight loss. But, exercise is actually important for muscle build-up. Once you visit your vet, they will guide you on a good exercise program to use. Swimming can be a great exercise choice as Labrador retrievers love water and will jump at any opportunity to get wet.

Remember that as a puppy, you should avoid straining your puppy through exercise. Labs are highly prone to bone diseases like elbow and hip dysplasia. This can only get worse with excess exercise. As a rule of thumb, do not exercise your lab immediately after eating. To avoid bloating, wait for half an hour before exercising.

3. Increase calories in their diet

A diet rich in protein will be better than one with carbohydrates. As you buy the dog food, ensure you go for foods that begin with a protein base than a carbohydrate base. Look out for beef, chicken, or lamb instead of corn or wheat as a higher ingredient.

Be sure to offer treats that are rich in protein and fats as well. Peanut butter is a great choice to offer your lab. For a vegan diet, pumpkin and sweet potatoes is a gem used in weight building. Introduce it to your lab’s diet and watch them grow and glow.

You can decide to offer homemade food to your dog as well. This way, you can be fully responsible for rationing the food components. When using this option, consult your vet as the many DIY home recipes for weight gain may not be rationed well.

4. Change some feeding habits

Do you offer your puppy meals twice? Increase it to three times a day. It gives your puppy more to explore.

Try giving your dog many smaller portions than a few big ones. Not only does this encourage your lab to eat, but it also reduces the amount of wastage you will incur.

Have a creative way of feeding the puppy. Aim to use kongs and some food dispensers which scream fun for your jumpy puppy. Be sure to offer these after the normal meals.

5. Enhance the taste of the food

Even dogs like yummy meals. If it does not appeal in taste, it may not matter how appetizing it looks to your dog. You can achieve this by adding some wet food toppings to the kibble. If you notice your pup is still becoming picky, try changing their food formula. Remember to introduce the new food gradually at all times. Immediate changes do not auger well with puppies, so transition it smoothly. You will reduce the chances of your pup starting to diarrhea, which can dehydrate and weaken it.

6. Moisten the Food.

Some dogs may not eat well and enough if the food is too hard. They could also be in the teething stage or could be having sensitive teeth. Try adding some moisture and softening up the food. Use water for the best results.

7. Track your dog’s weight 

Keep a journal and record any food changes you make. Include any supplements you begin administering. This helps you see whether you are making progress or not. Accompany this tracking with constantly weighing your puppy.

Top food picks for a skinny lab.

1. Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food

Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food is a golden high protein dog food. Though costly, you get a pick with no wheat, soy or corn that is suitable for puppies as young as four weeks old.

2. Elite K9 Maximum Bully All Stages Dog Food

Elite K9 Maximum Bully All Stages Dog Food is chicken-and-pork dog food. It offers more protein and fat per serving than most other foods. It is also on the higher side monetarily but worth every penny.

3. Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food

Featuring real chicken, Purina Pro Plan Sport Formula is pocket-friendly, high-calorie dog food. It has no added preservatives, making it an attractive for any diet-conscious doggy parent.

4. Crave Grain Free Dog Food

Grain-free, with salmon as its top ingredient, is the Crave Grain-Free Dog Food. It will help your pup pack on a few extra pounds without a doubt.

Consequences of your Lab remaining underweight


When your lab puppy is not getting enough nutrients, anemia starts beckoning. The lack of iron is primarily the cause of this. 

Inability to develop maturely

This often affects girl labs. They may become underdeveloped so much that they become unable to carry a pregnancy to term.


If not well reversed, your dog can grow weaker. It will become more prone to infections, leading the poor dog to an early ending.

Dealing with an underweight lab can be draining at first. As you move from one food choice to the next, all you wish for is for your pooch to respond. Even as you assist your canine in crossing over the positive side of the scale, be careful not to tip it over the overweight bar. It is possible to be overzealous and transform an underweight pup into an overweight one. Check out our blog to learn more about Labrador retrievers and their weight.

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