Understanding Dogs That Are Skinny: Causes, Concerns, and Care

icon July 14, 2023

Seeing a skinny dog can be concerning for pet owners, as it may indicate underlying health issues or inadequate nutrition. In this article, we will explore the various causes of skinny dogs and provide insights into the appropriate care and steps to ensure their well-being.

Why Is My Dog Getting Skinny?

1. Inadequate Nutrition

Poor diet or insufficient caloric intake can lead to weight loss in dogs. Dogs require a balanced diet with appropriate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Feeding a low-quality or improperly portioned diet can result in weight loss.

2. Health Issues

Being underweight can also signal an underlying illness, especially if the weight loss is sudden. A number of health issues can cause weight loss in dogs, these include gastrointestinal problems like gastroenteritis, parasites, infections, dental issues, metabolic disorders, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer. If your dog is consistently losing weight despite a healthy diet, it's crucial to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems. Your vet will conduct a thorough exam, along with bloodwork and a urinalysis, in order to discover or rule out what could be responsible for your dog's weight loss.

3. Dog Breeds

Some dogs are known for their long legs and long, slim bodies, in which case there's no need to worry about.

So what are the ten skinniest breeds of dogs?

  • American English Coonhound
  • Whippet
  • Kanni Breed
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Irish Setter
  • English Greyhound
  • Saluki
  • Sloughi
  • Ibizan Hound
  • Pharaoh Hound

4. Excessive Energy Expenditure

If your dog is highly active or engaging in strenuous activities without adequate calorie intake, they may struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

5. Stress or Anxiety

Dogs experiencing stress, anxiety, or fear may exhibit a decreased appetite, leading to weight loss. Stressors such as changes in environment, routine, or the addition of a new family member can affect a dog's eating habits.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Too Skinny?

Determining if your dog is too skinny can be subjective. However, there are some general indicators that can help you assess whether your dog may be underweight:

  • Visible Ribs and Spine
  • Visible Waist: When observing your dog from above, there should be a noticeable waistline between the ribs and the hips. If the area appears overly narrow or the sides are visibly concave, it might suggest that your dog is too skinny.
  • Lack of Muscle Mass
  • Loss of Appetite

How Can I Get My Dog to A Healthy Weight?

Getting your dog to a healthy weight involves a combination of proper nutrition, exercise, and monitoring. Here are some steps you can take:

If your dog has an underlying illness, proper treatment may help restore them to a healthy weight.

If your dog has an underlying illness, you should take your dog to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. Depending on the condition and your vet's treatment plan, this might include medicine treatment or even surgery, in case of cancer. Specific treatment measures are based on the dog's disease. During treatment, the veterinarian will work with food therapy to help the dog regain their health and may offer high-calorie options to help them gain weight faster.

If your dog is otherwise healthy, adjusting their daily meal plan and exercise are two effective measures.


  • Add afternoon tea for your dog, such as dog snacks and high-protein chicken breasts.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend high-calorie supplements or specific dietary supplements to boost your dog's calorie intake.
  • Avoid feeding your dog table scraps or high-calorie treats that can contribute to weight gain without providing necessary nutrients.

Exercise and Activity

  • Engage your dog in regular exercise and physical activity appropriate for their breed, age, and overall health. Exercise helps build muscle mass and promotes a healthy weight. 


Why Is My Dog So Skinny After Giving Birth?

During pregnancy and lactation, the mother's body may redirect nutrients and energy towards milk production, which can result in weight loss. It is normal for a mother dog to lose some weight during this period.

Do Dogs Get Skinny Before They Die?

In some cases, dogs may experience weight loss as they approach the end of their lives. However, it's important to note that weight loss alone is not necessarily an indicator of an impending death. Weight loss can occur due to various factors, including medical conditions, age-related changes, or a decrease in appetite.

Do Dogs Get Skinny When They Get Older?

Yes, weight loss or becoming skinny can occur in dogs as they age. Older dogs may develop dental issues, such as gum disease or missing teeth, which can make eating uncomfortable or difficult. This can lead to reduced food intake and subsequent weight loss.
Certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, thyroid problems, cancer, or gastrointestinal issues, can occur more frequently in older dogs and may contribute to weight loss.

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