Paw's Corner: Helping a dog gain weight

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Q: Recently, an elderly relative was moved to a full-time care facility because she was unable to care for herself or her two dogs. We gladly took in Sadie and Tasha, both small, mixed-breed adult dogs. I think they're very underweight, though – their skin just hangs off them. What is the best way to help them gain weight quickly?

-- Jerry S.

A: First, take them to the veterinarian for a complete checkup. While they may very well be underweight, make sure this is the case, as some dog breeds have somewhat loose skin. The vet also can determine their approximate age, check for any underlying medical conditions and test for specific nutritional deficiencies.

From there, work with the vet to put together the best diet for the dogs. It likely will include a mix of dry and wet dog foods, in specific amounts, for a certain number of feedings each day. I would not be surprised if they need to be given a nutritional supplement. The vet may be able to sell these to you or recommend where to buy them.

If needed, the dogs may be prescribed medication. It's very important that they take any medicines as directed.

If Sadie and Tasha do not have up-to-date vaccination records, the vet will give them the vaccinations they need.

While healthy dogs generally need to return to the vet just once per year, Sadie and Tasha likely will need to be seen more frequently so the vet can monitor their weight gain and health, and adjust their diet if needed.

I commend you for becoming Sadie and Tasha's new family – it sounds like they will be well cared for.

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c. 2014 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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