Albuquerque Journal Article – Thin Active Young Dog

Rule out Birth Defects before relying on Diet to Add Weight


I have an eleven month old Malinois and a year old Pomeranian, both neutered males. I know that breeds are different, but 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:

If I were your Malinois’s person I’d be worried too. It’s possible that this puppy is just a really active, gangly teenager. Maybe he just needs more groceries. On the other hand, there could be an internal problem that’s causing him to be “unthrifty”.

You have already done the right thing by getting this boy examined and having his stool checked for parasites. But your veterinarian may need to look deeper. As any young dog grows, especially a large breed puppy, his increasing body mass puts a greater demand on his system. Congenital disorders of the liver or kidneys can gradually create serious trouble with poor body condition as its early manifestation. I recommend a fasting blood and urine profile.

If this boy’s lab report is completely normal it may be appropriate to give the youngster time to fill out. But if there are suspicious red flags with some of his tests it would be prudent to investigate further with abdominal x-rays and possibly an ultrasound exam.

After establishing a healthy baseline for 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 make a significant difference.

Your Belgian Malinois sounds like a dog who enjoys his athletic life with you and your Pomeranian. Like all of us, he needs a little healthy fat. If he ended up getting sick he’d have a better chance of a quick recovery if he had a decent reserve of stored calories. Now is your chance to set this big boy up for success. Take action; don’t play wait-and-see.


Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.