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Help Gain Weight

How to Help a Shih Tzu Puppy Gain Weight


There may be times when you wonder if you need to do something to help your Shih Tzu puppy gain weight. In many cases, a puppy may be having a normal stall. However,  there are indeed some instances when an owner should intervene.

Here, we'll go over:
  • The difference between not gaining fast enough and normal stalls
  • Reasons why a Shih Tzu puppy may not be gaining weight as fast as he should
  • Steps you can take to help your puppy or dog gain, even if your Shih Tzu is a picky eater

Not Gaining Weight Fast Enough Vs Stalls 

First, we must discern the difference between a Shih Tzu puppy not gaining weight fast enough and appearing to be undersized due to a stall. 

Growth rate:  Shih Tzu puppies will grow in both height and weight from birth to the 9 to 12 month mark. However, this is not a linear process at all. 

Newborns do indeed gain each day. But then, starting at about the 8 week mark, weight gain can be a roller coaster. 
Most Shih Tzu will end up being between 9-16 pounds (4.08-7.26 kg), but they will not all get there the same way. 

A Shih Tzu that is predetermined to be 9 lbs. and another that is destined to be 16 lbs. will both start off relatively the same size, but will gain weight on very different paths. 

If you looked at a weight gain chart for puppies, the line showing weight progression will almost never be perfect. 

Some will make gradual pushes on a seemingly balanced progression, but things will slow down in the final 2-3 months of growth and many Shih Tzu puppies will have lots of rapid gains, slow gains, and even some stalls. 

From 8 weeks on, it is suggested to track your Shih Tzu puppy's weight every 2 weeks. There should, of course, be a gain. No matter whether that number is small or large, when you check again after the following two weeks, more than likely the gains will be different from each other.

From the 2 month mark to the 4 month mark, a stall should not last longer than 2 weeks. If you see a weight loss, this is another matter entirely, and should be reported to the vet asap. 

Reasons Why a Shih Tzu Puppy May Need Help Gaining Weight

Keeping in mind that most Shih Tzu puppies are going to be plodding along on their own individual course and intervention won't be needed, there are several valid times that call out for some help in this department. 
#1 Reason - Appetite can't keep up with growth: Normally with pups, a growing body in need of fuel triggers the appetite, and those puppies eat enough to supply the body with what it needs. 

However, for Shih Tzu puppies that struggle to gain weight, this can be a matter of not being able to muster the appetite to eat enough food to supply the body with the needed calories.

Even though puppies are predetermined to be a specific size, they will not be able to reach that weight without taking in the required calories. 

Technically speaking, a puppy that is not thriving is under-nourished. 

Plenty of owners worry themselves sick, begging their Shih Tzu puppy to eat, working to get them to eat just a little bit more... and often to no avail. A pup's stomach is very tiny, and unless he has the inner drive to eat multiple times per day, and enough to fill his stomach, he may need some extra help. 

What to do: Read on for more reasons, or jump to How to Help a Shih Tzu Puppy Gain Weight
#2 Reason - Poor nutritional intake: It's not easy choosing the best food to feed a puppy or dog. 

There are so many brands on the market, that it can seem overwhelming. And many of the well-known brands are actually very low-rated foods.

If a puppy is being fed a kibble that is heavy in fillers, he may indeed be eating, but not taking in needed calories. 

This is because fillers are worthless ingredients that are added to food to bulk it up. They contain no nutritional value. And they pass right through the body. 

Be aware of any ingredients that end with 'hull' (rice, oat, peanut, soybean), as well as wheat mill run, corncobs, cereal by-products, and corn bran.
What to do: If you are not fully confident that your Shih Tzu is eating 1) a food without any artificial additives (can cause upset stomach) and 2) a food without any fillers, it will be time to reevaluate what you are giving to him. 

You may want to consider one of our most recently added recommended foods, Wellness Complete Health Dry - Small Breed Puppy.This contains optimal calorie levels for small pups, is made with only wholesome, real foods, had no soy, corn, wheat, or by-products, and no artificial coloring, flavors, or preservatives.

This formula is made with turkey (healthy wholesome protein), oatmeal (great for sensitive stomachs), and salmon (great for omega 3 for skin and coat health). And, it contains DHA for healthy brain and eye development.

The kibble is sized perfectly and this is made in the USA.
For those on a budget, Whole Earth Farms for Puppies is another good choice. This is a Made in the USA, quality food. It contains chicken and salmon, oatmeal and probiotics for good digestive health. There are no artificial additives, and no corn, wheat, soy, or by-products. 
#3 Reason - Health issues: There are quite a few health conditions and diseases that can prevent a puppy from gaining weight as he normally should. For this reason, you will want to be sure that the veterinarian performs a full and complete examination if the pup shows any signs of illness or any of these are suspected.  

Possible causes include:

Parasites - Even puppies that have been de-wormed can catch worms by eating the infected feces of other dogs, or even from small wildlife like mice. Tapeworms can be carried by fleas.

Roundworms and tapeworms, in particular, can cause weight loss. 
You may wonder how a puppy could catch worms if he's been de-wormed and is on a de-worming schedule. There are lots of variables. 

Some de-wormers do not work well for certain pups. Some kill most types of worms, but not all. And since these are given in intervals in order to kill worms at all life cycle stages, the timing may have left open a small window of vulnerability. 

Aside from affecting proper weight gain, other signs of worms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dull coat, and decreased appetite.

Depending on the type of infestation, there may also be itching and skin irritations, visible worms if you look closely at the stools, the puppy may scoot his bum across the ground (also a sign of engorged anal glands), and/or have a potbellied appearance. 

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu puppy has worms, alert the vet, and he will ask you to bring in a stool sample to be analyzed. 
Gastrointestinal upset - Any illness or condition that causes upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea will often interfere with a puppy's ability to gain weight. 

There are many causes including ingestion of an inferior food. If the kibble contains chemical additives such as artificial coloring, flavoring and/or preservatives this can trigger very bad reactions including upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyes, and/or poor skin and coat health. 

Other possible issues include the aforementioned worms, a quick change in diet, viral infection, and reaction to medications. Less common but possible is tumors, kidney disease, and liver disease.

If your Shih Tzu puppy is not gaining weight quickly enough, but is suffering from any sort of gastrointestinal upset, that should be resolved fast and first. 
To Summarize: For puppies that are struggling to gain weight, first be sure that this is not a normal stall or phase of slower growth.  All health issues should be ruled out and food should re reevaluated. 

Then, if you then know that what your Shih Tzu puppy needs is a bit of a boost in the right direction, we'll cover that next. 

How to Help a Shih Tzu Puppy Gain Weight

It must be mentioned again that before you take steps to help your puppy gain some weight, you will want to be sure that all possible health issues have been ruled out. In addition, you'll want to be sure that your Shih Tzu's main diet offers the foundation that he requires for proper nutrition and healthy growth.

This said, one of the most effective, and easy methods to help a puppy gain weight is to offer a nutritional supplement. This is because one of the main problems is that a little puppy cannot be expected to eat a large amount of food. 

So, how do you get him to take in more calories? It can be accomplished with a tasty nutritional gel. Quality ones are formulated to tempt a pup with yummy flavor, and the gel will not make his tummy feel full. 

An effective high-calorie supplement like the Tomlyn's we recommend can offer up to 28 calories per serving. Is this enough? Yes. 

Small puppies only need about 55 calories per pound of body weight. So, in looking at a 4 lb. Shih Tzu pup, he would need about 220 calories per day. A boost of 28 calories means a 12% increase. Double the dose, giving a teaspoon twice per day, and his intake goes up 24%. 

Recommended Food and High Calorie Supplements

As we touched on earlier, you'll want your Shih Tzu to be eating a quality, highly nutritious food that does not contain ingredients that can interfere with his health or growth. 

And, if he needs some help to take in more calories, a quality high-calorie supplement can work very well. 

These are our recommendations below (if images do not show try a refresh, and if you are on mobile, you may need to switch to a horizontal view to see all recommendations) 

Having the right supplies can make a world of difference. It can improve everything from how your Shih Tzu does when home alone, to his success with housebreaking, and can even help prevent a common health issue seen with this breed. 

See what is needed and why, for optimal health, comfort, safety, and happiness. 

The products that you use on the coat (the shampoo, but also the conditioner and the leave-in spritz) will either be beneficial to the coat or detrimental. 

And this has a big effect on not just how your Shih Tzu looks, but also his skin and coat health. Be sure to have the right products for baths and touch-ups when brushing.
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