Discover the Best Homemade Weight Gainers for Dogs 

Written by Gerald Dlubala
Updated: October 27, 2023
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How can you discover the best homemade weight gainers for your dog? It depends on how far you want to delve into your pet, its breed, and its nutritional needs. Large breeds like American bulldogs have different needs than Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers. The best solution for your dog can be determined by your veterinarian or by a trusted dog nutritionist.

Your dog’s lifestyle, including age, wellness, and activity levels, determines the proper amount of calories needed on a daily basis to either maintain or gain weight. These levels change with changes in your dog’s age, health concerns (including pregnancy), and activity levels.

Professional veterinarians examining dog in clinic, closeup

Veterinarians and dog nutritionists can tell you the optimal weight for your dog.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Reduced Appetites Lead to Underweight Dogs

Dogs experience reduced appetites and weight loss for numerous reasons, but how do you know if your dog is underweight? Underweight dogs have visible and prominent ribs, a tucked-up stomach area, and an overall lack of muscle mass. They may act lethargic with little or no interest in taking walks or participating in playful exercise. The decision to start giving your dog a homemade weight gainer should be a joint decision with your veterinarian to rule out possible sources of weight loss. Some common reasons that dogs experience noticeable weight loss and reduced appetites include:

  • Medical issues. A variety of medical issues can cause weight loss in dogs. Blood tests and routine veterinarian checkups determine if the issues are minor and temporary, like a parasite or infection, or more serious, such as diabetes or cancer.
  • Common parasitic infections. Worms or parasites can cause weight loss in your dog. Your veterinarian can confirm or rule out parasites and worms with simple tests. If parasites or worms are found, medication will help eliminate them and return your dog to a normal eating schedule and healthy weight.
  • Social and environmental issues. As it does in humans, stress and anxiety can upset your dog’s normal routine, including their nutrition intake. Any changes in the home can upset a dog’s eating routine. New people, a new pet, or, specifically, a new puppy can alter a dog’s eating routine. When multiple dogs are present, a food-aggressive dog can easily reduce the amount of food intake of a less aggressive eater.
  • Changes in dog food types or brands. Sometimes, it takes your dog a while to become accustomed to a new or altered food or brand. Additionally, some manufacturers may change their recipe in a current food choice that is causing hesitation from your pet in eating it as normal.
Sick or sad Rhodesian ridgeback dog lying on the floor next to bowl full of dry food and refuse to eat, no appetite

There are many reasons that dogs lose their appetite. Your veterinarian can perform tests to determine the cause.

©Zontica/Shutterstock.com

Homemade Weight Gainers For Dogs

Homemade weight gainer treats should include higher-calorie ingredients with a combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Examples include beef, pork, high-fat fish and oils, and carbs like rice, oats, or sweet potato. Eggs and peanut butter make excellent binders.

One common homemade weight gainer recipe for dogs uses 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef, and 1 cup of ground kibble. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl to create a dough-like consistency.

Shape the mixture into a loaf, wrap it in wax paper, and you have a great homemade weight gainer treat that will last up to five days in the refrigerator. Give the treat to your dog with their normal feeding schedule or as a separate treat, giving them one slice of homemade weight gainer for every 20 pounds of your dog’s current weight.

Peanut butter and a dog

Peanut butter makes an excellent binder for weight gainer treats for your dog.

©Halie West/Shutterstock.com

Additional Weight Gainer Ideas for Your Dog

Plain peanut butter is a great treat for dogs. It’s easily stuffed into food toys like Kongs or spread over lick mats. Choose natural peanut butter without added salt or xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

Marrow bones are very high in calories and provide the dog with natural chewing and gnawing exercise. They are a favorite among most dogs. However, you have to be aware of potential problems and remove the marrow bones should they become small or start chipping.

Quality jerky, although pricey, is an excellent source of protein that you can share with your dog. For emaciated dogs or those that need a fast, weight gain boost on their road to recovery, satin balls are a popular, no-cook, homemade weight gainer for dogs.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is high in protein, making it an excellent addition to a dog’s diet when needing to gain weight.

©HandmadePictures/Shutterstock.com

Satin Balls for Dogs Recipe

While there are many variations of the Satin Balls recipe, most are based on the following recipe. It is intended for adult canines, and should not be used for puppies, pregnant, or lactating dogs.

  • 1 pound uncooked ground beef, 75-80% lean.
  • 1 1/3 cups Total cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal
  • One egg (with or without shell added)
  • 6 Tbsp wheat germ
  • One package of unflavored gelatin
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • A pinch of salt

Satin balls are meant to be served raw, so proper food handling precautions are recommended. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and form to create a large meatloaf or ball. Tear off or scoop out enough of the mixture to form a meatball by rolling it in the palms of your hand. Place the meatball on a sheet of parchment paper. Repeat the process until you have used all of the meat and oatmeal mixture. That’s it!

These satin weight gainer balls will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in an airtight container stored in the freezer. Give your dog 1 satin ball for every 20 pounds of body weight per day. You should start to see a change within 5-7 days. If there is no change in that time frame, increase the portion and continue to monitor your dog’s weight.

Beef cubed steaks

Raw ground beef is the main protein source in the Satin Balls recipe for dogs.

©BWFolsom/iStock via Getty Images

Homemade Weight Gainers to Avoid

All high-calorie snacks are not equal. Some should be avoided due to their controversial, possibly dangerous qualities. Animal hooves contain keratin, which is not easily digestible by dogs. Additionally, animal hooves are prone to splintering, putting dangerous shards in the dog’s mouth and throat areas.

Pig’s ears are also popular, but their extremely high-fat content will likely upset the dog’s stomach after consumption. The popularity of rawhide chews has declined due to an increased chance of choking and gut obstruction.

Rawhide becomes soft and pliable after excess chewing, allowing the dog to swallow large chunks of the treat and become a hazard. There are better, healthier options that are less dangerous and problematic for your canine friend. Always turn to your veterinarian for quality healthcare information and recommendations for your specific pet.

is rawhide bad for dogs

Large chunks of slippery, pliable rawhide can be swallowed, causing potential choking and gut obstruction in dogs.

©MaxShutter/Shutterstock.com

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Josfor/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Gerald Dlubala is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on animals, plants, and places. Gerald has been writing for over 25 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Gerald has shared his home with numerous pets, including dogs, cats, a variety of fish and newts, turtles, hermit crabs, rabbits, and a flock of birds. Gerald enjoys all animal and plant life and looks at every day as an opportunity to learn something new about the world around us.

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