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Weight gain dilemma


Hello again. Here’s a bit of background on my Doberman. I have struggled with keeping weight on him since he was a puppy. He is active in dog daycare 5x a week (comes to work with me, too much separation anxiety to leave at home). I have tested him for everything and tested him again. He is 5 years old now and is like 60-65lbs. I have tried pro plan sport, diamond extreme athlete, Victor high energy. He was just at the vet two weeks ago to do another $400 GI Panel. Every test has come back normal. I just put him on Dr. Tim’s momentum. The vet wants to see how he does on it but ultimately wants to try him on a royal canin gastric food. I’m okay with that but honestly am not convinced he will gain weight on it. He’s eating 4 cups a day, because anytime I give him more than 4.5 cups he ends up with very loose stool-diarrhea. I have tried satin balls and he did gain weight on it. This time around it doesn’t seem to be working as well but it’s also not practical long term. It seems that anytime I stop adding satin balls he drops the weight. Has anyone had luck with putting on weight and maintaining it? I’ve tried raw with him as well. I’m at a complete loss and I’m feeling defeated. He needs to be at 70-75lbs as that’s when he looks his best and healthy. Open to suggestions, while I work with the vet. I have also gone to 4 different vets about this. One thought it was anxiety related and another thinks it’s nutrition based. You can see his ribs, hips, he looks horrible and I feel like a horrible owner because I can’t figure it out and help him. He is a great eater, not picky. Please help with nutrition suggestions, maybe tests my vet hasn’t thought of, anything.


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Oh Little Oji

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Good looking boy there! I like his coloration. He looks to have Euro influence.

I am dealing with something at least similar.

My boy, summed up in my layman's terms, does not absorb from his food the nutrition he needs.

He also has (in my own assessment) a pelvic angle that causes his spine and top of hip bones to stick up. So, that first pic looks familiar. I'll give you this, though, my boy didn't look quite that bad except for after 4 or 5 days of a hellish boarding experience that stripped him of 11 lbs. Mine has actually been looking in pretty good condition for some time now, but still is a lightweight.

What is your boy's height? Mine is 28" at the withers, and he is probably 70 lbs. at almost 7 years old. My vet's scale has always had him in the 60s, which pisses me off.

Here's the key factor with mine: He is narrow in the chest. He also has small hips and a fairly smallish, or at least narrow, head and unsubstantial snout.

The anxiety factor is interesting to me. Would you say yours is anxious? Mine is, overall. He at least has separation anxiety and thunderstorm anxiety. But he is "high strung" as well, to use a simplistic term.

Like yours, mine is a chow hound – gets so excited to eat and goes after it.

Is yours neutered? If so, at what age? Mine is not.

I guess you specifically asked for nutrition suggestions, which I cannot give you. My assessment of my boy is that, for all intents and purposes, he will be a lightweight no matter what I feed him.

Would you say he is stressed out being at daycare around the other dogs? Mine would be. But then he can't be in that situation. He'd be physically dominating all the dogs, or maybe getting his butt kicked when he tried the wrong dog.

But I do wonder: Is the 5x per week daycare giving yours a level of physical and mental stimulation that is contributing to his being too lean? Would he be better off in a safe, sturdy, crate when you are at work? Frankly, I have had my boy accustomed to a level of exercise and a routine that is at the low end of the spectrum of what he can tolerate.


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Every test has come back normal.
I would quit worrying about re-testing and re-testing then!

I would hazard the guess, same as @Oh Little Oji that your dog burns more calories than he can consume. My old rule of thumb is that if they're too thin feed them more, if they're too fat feed them less. Hard keepers can burn calories with angst as well as activity - your dog seems to have a lot of both from your description. You say your dog will eat more calories but too much will give him the loose stools. Have you tried raw? It's wonderful for making smaller dryer poop. Kibble is known for making loose stools. Many advise against mixing the two, but I feed kibble in the morning and raw in the evening with no problem. I add a fresh egg, shell & all, 4 - 5 days a week and a can of sardines (packed in water) once a week. Kibble is always soaked, never dry. You can add more calories & nutrition by adding no-salt bone broth. Raw diet is expensive but you could try it for a couple of months "just to see". And just think what you could save in vet bills!


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Lots of great ideas to consider above.

Seeing the spine is a bit concerning. Is he on any probiotic? Sometimes that can help with absorption issues. I’d go back to the raw and try again. Surprisingly, we noticed trout would make him gain weight faster so we end up feeding less of it.

With the kibble related loose stool, I’m surprised satin balls worked for him - we found that store bought ground beef doesn’t work well for Kaiser. Each dog is individual that way, so maybe some experimentation is required.


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Have to agree with all the comments above, it must be difficult and expensive to keep having vet's carry out tests, maybe he does need more food as @Ravenbird said more food to increase weight, we feed our boy a cooked diet off chicken, liver, heart, kidney, lamb, beef, different fish like sardines, mackerel and tuna, he has lots off vegetables and the base for meals is brown rice, we tend to cook up different broths which he really enjoys, we do feed him five times a day but that is due to him having DCM so his meal sizes are smaller, we don't use and store bought dog food we also add boiled eggs to his diet as part of his treats, we have found apart from time preparing food its cheaper than pet food and we know exactly what he is eating. Hope you find a good balance off food and exercise he is a fine looking boy.


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Seeing the spine is a bit concerning. Is he on any probiotic? Sometimes that can help with absorption issues.
I was assuming the spine-showing photo was before & the next picture with a little more weight was now. Please clarify this @Inkedpaws. If the very thin photo is now, I can certainly see your concern. I also think he is genetically "roach-backed", seen in some Dobermans, since he appears in this stance at two different instances. It is a conformation fault, but I don't think it matters for weight or g.i. issues. Yes, I'd for sure add some probiotics, glad you mentioned that!


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Instead of feeding those high fat kibbles aimed for high energy dogs, have you tried feeding a good high quality dense kibble? I find those high energy kibbles are fatty and can run right through them, no absorption allowed to take place. Check on dog food advisor for 4-5 star foods.

I second trying raw and adding probiotics. I use Nature's Farmacy complete for my puppy and she has to eat very little compared to what I hear some have to feed! They all have different metabolic needs but I feel largely it is due to the probiotics helping with absorption letting her use every bit of nutrition from the kibble for energy.

I sympathize with you; my lab had a very high metabolism and I had issues much like you, where I couldn't increase her food anymore or she would get diarrhea. I gave up on the "high energy/sport" foods and started buying higher quality food, even switched to raw for years. Costs more but in the end the results are way worth it.



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Have you used Fromm Adult? Black and gold bag.

I have fed TOTW, Victor, 4Health, Diamond, etc....

I have to really cut back on Fromm because Ragnar will put on weight.