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I understand the challenges of keeping good weight on your raw-fed dog, especially when your dog is a senior. The last thing you want is for your dog to be overweight, followed closely by underweight.
If you’re wondering how to put weight on a dog on a raw diet? Here is what I’ve found: Rather than feeding MORE raw, it’s healthier and more cost-effective to add healthy, homemade treats that are filled with good fats, healthy vitamins and probiotics.
March 2022 Update: Frodo is now 15 Years Old and still eats Homemade Raw
My Raw Dog Food Experience
I can remember how amazed I was with the amount of weight my dog lost but I wasn’t sure how much. It wasn’t until an annual checkup when he got on the scale at the vet’s office that I was shocked to see that he had lost 30 pounds in a half year period. My dog went from weighing 118 to 80 by switching his diet from commercial food to homemade raw.
Now my dog didn’t always weigh 118, but a recent steroid treatment made his weight skyrocket. Before that, he weighed a consistent 110 and looked “stocky” to say the least. So to be fair, I use the 110 when calculating his 30 pound weight loss.
Addressing Weight Loss for Dog’s on a Raw Diet
While we were all amazed at the results of his new raw diet, and my dog looked extremely healthy, I have to admit, I felt more comfortable with him weighing between 85 and 90 pounds. He’s an extra large breed dog (in between a German Shepard and Great Dane) and I felt 80 pounds didn’t seem right for his build. That meant I needed to figure out a healthy way to add (and maintain) another 5 pounds or so.
The first thing I did was increase his normal meal size from 16oz to 18oz (twice per day). This extra 2 ounces a day started to make a difference, but as you know, a homemade raw diet takes a lot of time to make and if you don’t get the food on sale, it can be expensive. I was going through raw dog food at lightening speed.
Managing Weight of Dogs on Raw Diets Without Feeding More Raw Food
So how was I going to add weight to my dog that’s on a raw dog diet, without turning to commercially prepared products or burning through all of his raw dog food? Homemade, healthy, fatty treats was the answer.
To adjust my dog’s weight, my dog’s homemade raw diet is supplemented with homemade treats that are loaded with healthy fats and beneficial ingredients that his raw diet is not delivering (such as probiotics). This does a few things:
- It delivers healthy, calorie dense fats.
- It delivers probiotics to his gut
- It keeps him satisfied between meals
- I can use the mixture to wrap medications
- I can give him more or less to manage his weight
- It saves money by not having to use more raw food
In addition to all of these benefits, this simple recipe accommodates any add-in ingredients imaginable. For instance, if you want to get your dog some extra vitamin E, you can coat these treats in sunflower seeds or top them with raw almonds. Or you can press berries into the treats for an immune system boost during dog flu season or before traveling.
Bottom line: you’re in control of what’s going into your dog’s body and you can add or subtract as necessary.
Homemade Healthy Dog Treat That Adds Weight to a Dog on a Raw Diet
So here is the recipe and I’ll also post the video of me making the dog treats so you can get a visual of what they are supposed to look like.
These are the 3 main ingredients which you will combine in Equal Parts, for this homemade dog treat and a brief description of what you’re looking for as it pertains to the quality:
#1 – Virgin, Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil – do not cheap out on this. As a raw feeder, you understand the difference in quality ingredients and you’ll want to give your dog virgin, organic, unrefined coconut oil. I get mine on amazon because it’s in a nice big jar and it’s more affordable that what my supermarket carries. This huge jar lasts me all year and it’s everything i’m looking for in coconut oil (product link) virgin, organic and unrefined coconut oil.
#2 – 100% Peanut Butter – again, this dog treat recipe requires just pure peanut butter or if your dog is okay with salt, you can use a peanut butter that has peanuts & salt as ingredients. That is it. No other ingredients should be in the peanut butter. I am lucky enough to live near a co-op where they have a peanut grinder on site for freshly ground peanut butter. If you have this option, definitely take advantage.
If not, Smuckers organic is found on most store shelves and contains just peanuts and salt. Or, if you like to shop amazon’s prime pantry, this 365 peanut butter (link) is perfect for dogs. It’s just organic dry roasted peanuts…period and it’s usually cheaper than most pure peanut butters found in stores.
Whatever you do, don’t give your dog peanut butter with hydrogenated oils such as palm, canola, cottonseed, rapeseed etc., and definitely do not use a peanut butter with sugar. Finally: The latest peanut butter sweetener for humans is called Xylitol. Never use a peanut butter with Xylitol as Xylitol kills dogs and it does it rather quickly. For more reading about xylitol in peanut butter you can read this article: safe peanut butter for dogs-27 Brands Revealed.
#3 – Plain Yogurt – this is just plain yogurt. No sugars, sweeteners or fruits. As plain as plain can be. This is the ingredient list on my yogurt from aldi;
Someone asked if they could forego the peanut butter because their dog can’t tolerate peanuts. While I haven’t tried it personally, I do think it would work as long as you choose a greek-style yogurt which is a lot thicker than regular yogurt. If you only have thin yogurt, you can let it drain by lining a strainer/sieve with a coffee filter or paper towel. Add the yogurt and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
How Many Treats to Give Dog for Weight Gain
I give my dog at least one of these treats per day, sometimes 2 per day. Using this recipe, I try to get 24 treats which means each treat is loaded with 150 calories of good fat and beneficial nutrients. This amounts to an extra 150-300 calories per day for my dog on a raw diet.
If your dog is small, you might want to make them into 100 calorie treats. Just add up the total calories and divide by 100 to know how many to make.
Here is the video of dog treats I make and how to put weight on a dog on a raw diet.