Underweight Diabetic Dogs And How To Battle This Condition

Underweight Diabetic Dogs And How To Battle This Condition

Most diabetic dogs tend to be overweight.

This is the result of too much food, too little exercise and an over-reliance on complex carbs in the diet.

However, there are other diabetic dogs that are underweight.

Even though they have an excess of blood sugar in their system, they are not putting on the extra calories in the form of body fat that you would expect.

In this article, we look at what you can do to help your diabetic dog to gain healthy body weight.

Why Some Diabetic Dogs Lose Weight

A sudden loss of weight is actually quite common among dogs when they first get diabetes.

This happens, ironically, alongside an increase in hunger. Without insulin, the muscle cells are not receiving the nutrients that they need.

This will lead to a loss of muscle mass and body fat. Sometimes a diabetic dog will continue to lose weight once insulin is introduced through injections.

If this loss of weight is not reversed the dog could be dehydrated or get the condition known as ketoacidosis.

How to Treat an Underweight Diabetic Dog

sad skinny dog

The only treatment that is known for underweight diabetic dogs is insulin injections.

That means daily injection. So far, no oral drugs for diabetes have been developed for dogs. It will take some experimentation to find the type of insulin that best fits a dog’s needs.

This is mainly because the degree of failure of the pancreas to produce insulin differs with every case.

Insulin is available in short, intermediate and long-acting forms. Often it is necessary to use a mixture of insulins to get the best results.

Both recombinant human insulin and porcine (which is derived from pigs) insulin are the most similar to the type of insulin that dogs produce naturally.

As a result, these are the forms of insulin that are recommended for dogs.

Insulin is usually given twice daily. It is best to give it immediately after the dog has eaten.

If you give your dog insulin before he eats and then he refuses the food, the effects of the insulin could be dangerous.

Your vet will explain how to give insulin injections to your dog and how to monitor urine glucose levels using proper test strips.

How to Tell If Your Dog Is Underweight

Your vet will make a professional evaluation as to whether your dog is underweight.

However, prior to that taking place, you need to make a determination yourself. Here are the things to look out for:

View From the Side

A healthy weight dog will have a tummy that tucks up from his chest rather than being level with or hanging below the chest.

You should be able to easily see the dog’s ribs. However here are some exceptions.

Breeds such as Greyhounds, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds all have visible ribs at a healthy weight.

If your dog has a heavy coat of fur, you won’t get much of an indication as to its weight with a side view.

View From Above

From a bird’s eye view, your dog needs to have a visibly tucked-in waist.

However, the hip bones should not noticeably protrude. An underweight dog will be noticeable by way of his sharply protruding hips.

Feeling the Ribs

dog with visible ribs

Feel the sides of your dog from the ribs. If you cannot even detect the ribcage this is a sure sign that your pooch is overweight.

However, if the ribs are very easy to feel and it seems as if they are covered in nothing but a thin layer of skin, then the dog is almost certainly underweight.

The ideal for a healthy weight will be indicated by ribs that are covered with a slight layer of padding.

If you think that your dog is underweight, you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian straight away.

The vet will undertake a complete physical check-up of the dog. He will also ask you a number of questions about the diet of your pooch.

He’ll want to know what sort of food he eats and how much, as well as his energy levels throughout the day. The vet will also want to know how much exercise the dog is getting.

In addition, he will check what, if any, medications the dog is currently on, as the side effects of these may be loss of weight.

If the vet determines that you are not giving the dog enough food, he will probably give you an increased caloric menu to fool for a period of about a month, to see if there is any increase in the dog’s weight.

If there is no improvement, the doctor will conduct further tests, which may include blood work.

He may also undertake the following tests on your dog:

  • Biochemistry profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopy

In addition, the vet will examine the dog’s mouth, throat, and teeth, especilly looking out for any gum abnormalities. 

These tests will help the vet to determine if there are any other medical conditions that may be preventing your dog from gaining weight.

What is the Ideal Weight for My Dog?

happy retriever

The following chart provides the ideal weight for a dozen common dog breeds to help you to get an idea of how much your dog should weigh.

Dog BreedIdeal Weight
American BulldogMale: 75-125 lb / Female 60-100 lb.
Australian Cattle DogMale: 45 lb / Female 35 lb.
Australian TerrierMale: 12 lb / Female 14 lb.
Bassett HoundMale: 60 lb / Female 40 lb.
Bichon FriseMale: 11-16 lb / Female 10-15 lb.
Border CollieMale: 15.5 lb / Female 11.5 lb.
ChihuahuaMale: 6 lb / Female 4 lb.
Dachsund (Standard)Male: 16-32 lb / Female 12-25 lb.
Dachsund (Miniature)Male: 7-11 lb / Female 5-9 lb.
Fox Terrier (Smooth)Male: 17-19 lb / Female 15-17 lb.
German ShepherdMale: 75 lb / Female 95 lb.
KeeshondMale: 45 lb / Female 35 lb.

Tips to Help Your Dog Gain Weight

  • Increase the amount of calories that you are feeding to the dog each day.
  • Add more muscle meat to provide the lean protein needed for the dog to rebuild his muscle mass.
  • Add an extra half a cup of kibble to the dog’s midday snack meal.
  • Increase the number of low glycemic carbs and proteins.
  • Always dish out the meal yourself.
  • Increase the number of meals to four per day, making each meal slightly smaller to what the dog will have been used to.
  • Space meals six hours apart.
  • Add one whole raw egg to the dog’s food bowl to provide a high-quality source of lean protein. However, limit this to one per day, as too many raw eggs in dogs can lead to a biotin deficiency.
  • Add fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, green beans, and apples to the dog’s food bowl.
  • Make sure that the dog has plenty of access to water.
  • Provide plenty of healthy treats and snacks in the form of chopped up carrots, celery, and nuts.

3 Supplements to Help Your Underweight Diabetic Dog

box of garlic
  • Fenugreek – Numerous canine studies have shown that fenugreek seeds or components added to the diet of dogs with diabetes lowers cholesterol and reduces high blood glucose. Fenugreek is available in supplements specifically for dogs. A typical dose for diabetes is 5 to 30 grams with each meal, depending on the size of the dog. If you use a tincture, 3 to 4 ml taken up to three times per day is suggested.
  • Garlic – In human studies, garlic has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. Animal studies have revealed that it can increase levels of insulin. However, it is not known if these benefits apply to dogs. Yet, the addition of a small amount of garlic (half a clove to two gloves minced daily, depending on the size of your dog) could be beneficial.
  • Vitamin E – Use of Vitamin E may reduce your dog’s need for insulin, control blood sugar levels, and improve insulin activity. A suggested dose is 25Iu to 200IU per day, depending on the dog’s size.


When your diabetic dog is underweight you have two closely related conditions to deal with.

The inability to produce insulin prevents the dogs from being able to transport glucose into the muscle cell for energy.

As a result, it must use up muscle mass and stored body fat to fuel all of its daily activities.

You can combat this condition by providing external insulin in the form of twice-daily injections.

You should also implement the many tips that we have provided here to help your body to attain to a healthy weight.

Rate this post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *