Media – Scary Low Weight and Rapid Growth


I have an eleven month old Malinois and a year old Pomeranian, both neutered males. My pom seems to be a healthy body size and weight, and my Malinois is very, very skinny. I can see his hips and his ribs. He eats all his food and doesn’t throw it up. His stools are normal, and he doesn’t have worms. Is there any way to get some weight on him? Or is he just a late filler since he is so active?

Dr. Nichol:
I share your concern. It’s possible that your Malinois puppy is just an energetic, gangly teenager. He may just need more groceries. On the other hand, there could be nagging problem that’s causing him to be “unthrifty”.

You’ve already done the right thing by having this boy’s stool checked for parasites. But his doctor may need to look deeper. During rapid growth, especially in a large breed puppy, there is a strong demand for efficient organ function. If those systems aren’t keeping pace because of congenital disorders of the liver or kidneys, for example, poor body condition would be an early sign. I recommend a fasting blood and urine profile.

If this awkward teenager’s lab report is completely normal, the kid may just need an extra meal each day. Suspicious red flags, on the other hand, would warrant further investigation with abdominal x-rays and possibly an ultrasound exam.

After ruling out internal disease in an underweight and actively growing dog I’ve prescribed a higher energy diet with a greater protein content. While not appropriate for sedentary or elderly dogs Hill’s Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness or Royal Canin Gastrointestinal High Energy dry dog food can help satisfy the caloric needs of a burgeoning canine athlete. Avoid chips, cake, pastries, soda pop, turkey bones, and of course chocolate.

Like all of us, your Belgian Malinois needs a bit of healthy body fat – a reserve tank, just in case he gets sick. Without it he’d be on the ropes if he suffered an acute medical crisis. Besides, this is New Mexico. You don’t want this pupster getting picked up by a stiff breeze.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.