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5 Ways To Help Skinny Australian Shepherd Gain Weight

If your Australian Shepherd is looking a bit thin or underweight, it’s important to understand why and to figure out how to help them regain a healthy weight.

This article covers everything Australian Shepherd owners need to know about their dog’s weight and offers ways to help a skinny Aussie put on some pounds!

First, let’s discuss the three main reasons why an Australian Shepherd might be underweight. Understanding these causes is key before trying any weight-gain strategies.

5 Tips to help your Aussie gain weight.

  1. Add unsalted chicken broth
  2. Incorporate wet dog food with their dry food
  3. Add organic unsalted peanut butter
  4. Adding protein
  5. Increasing portion size

While food bowls brimming with food can help your Aussie gain weight, there are other factors to consider. So let’s delve deeper into this subject.

5 ways to help skinny australian shepherd gain weight

Normal Weight For Australian Shepherds

Are Australian Shepherds naturally slim?

Let’s look at the normal weight ranges for Australian Shepherds. You might be worried about your dog’s weight when there’s no cause for concern. While Australian Shepherds are usually athletic and lean, they should not appear overly thin.

Being able to feel your Aussie’s ribs a little bit is normal as long as it’s not excessive. As a general rule, for dogs, it’s healthier to be a bit underweight than overweight.

And remember, this is for adults! Aussies don’t stop gaining weight and growing until around 2 years old in some cases!

According to the American Kennel Club:
The normal weight for an adult male Australian Shepherd is 50-65lbs
The normal weight for an adult female Australian Shepherd is 40-55lbs

Your Aussie should ideally fit within these weight ranges.

Related Article: Why Is My Australian Shepherd So Small?

3 Main Causes of Underweight Australian Shepherds

The first thing I urge owners to try and do is rule out health issues.

It’s essential to rule out health problems first. Your vet should be your first stop if:

  1. Your Aussie hasn’t eaten for more than two days
  2. Your Aussie is eating more than usual but is still noticeably underweight

If your Australian Shepherd refuses to eat for around two days, take them to your local veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet can provide necessary nutrients and determine the issue.

An Aussie that eats a lot but remains skinny might have worms. These parasites consume your dog’s nutrients and can lead to weight loss.

➡️ Insufficient diet & nutrition

Maybe your Aussie isn’t getting what they need from their current diet. Make sure you’re using a reputable, high-quality dog food brand.

Your Australian Shepherd should only eat quality ingredients from trusted sources to avoid digestive issues. If the food causes any discomfort, your Aussie might refuse to eat it.

A raw food diet has been discussed in the context of Australian Shepherds. While it may have benefits, it’s a complex diet to manage correctly. If you’ve tried changing to a raw food diet and your Aussie is struggling, consider returning to commercial dog food.

➡️ Picky eating

While this overlaps with diet issues, Aussies can be finicky, deserving its own discussion!

Your Aussie’s diet or food might be fine, but if they grow bored with their food, they might just stop eating it.

Giving too many treats can also lead to picky eating. An Aussie will quickly learn that refusing their food might earn them something tastier!

Spicing up their meals can help rekindle their interest in food, but remember, the right kind of “spice” is crucial!

Related Article: Why I Love Human-Grade Pet Food

➡️ Too much exercise

Even active breeds like the Australian Shepherd can get too much exercise!

If your Aussie is very active, getting around 3 hours of exercise per day, they’ll need a different caloric intake to cope.

A typical diet might not suffice for an extremely active Aussie. You might need to either reduce their exercise or increase their calories.

Highly active adult Aussies could consume 2200-2500 calories per day, depending on their exercise levels. If your Aussie is highly active, try raising their calorie intake to 2000 per day and monitor their weight over 2-3 weeks. (Most Aussies consume between 1200-1700 anyway, so testing out 2000 shouldn’t be a huge leap.)

5 Best Ways To Help an Australian Shepherd Gain Weight

Alright, let’s get down to business and explain the best (and safest) ways to help your Aussie gain some weight.

1. Add unsalted chicken broth

💡 This is for combating fussy eating.

Adding chicken broth to your Aussie’s kibble can make their meal more appealing.

Make sure to use plain chicken broth without added salt or other ingredients that might upset your dog’s stomach. You can even make healthy chicken broth biscuits as a treat.

This won’t typically increase the calories, but more so encourage your Aussie to consume their entire meal. This should be the first goal for anyone with an Aussie that just isn’t eating their regular food.

2. Mix in wet dog food to their kibble

💡 This is for adding calories and combating fussy eating.

Mixing it a bit of wet dog food to your Aussie’s kibble will tranform their mealtimes instantly.

Wet dog food is highly nutritious and packed with protein and calories, both of which will help your Aussie gain some extra weight.

While this is pretty much a garaunteed winner, be sure you are not mixing in too much wet dog food. It really is nutritionally dense, and it’s easy to go overboard with it. You only want to be adding around 100 extra calories worth (which won’t equate to much).

Preferably use the same brand for the wet food as you already use for the dry food. Always follow the correct portion sizes.

3. Add organic unsalted peanut butter

💡 This is for adding calories.

Most dogs love peanut butter, including Aussies. Mixing in a little peanut butter with their food can make it more enticing.

Use organic, unsalted peanut butter without Xylitol.

Peanut butter is safe for dogs, but it must be one without Xylitol or extra sugar/salt. Finding one that is 100% pure peanuts what to go for. And these are readily available nowadays.

If you opt to do this, don’t add in extra wet dog food or kibble. Peanut butter is high in calories, so combining techniques will likely lead to excessive weight gain.

4. Higher protein

💡 This is for adding calories.

It could be that a change in kibble is required, if the one you have just doesn’t contain enough protein.

Protein not only helps a young aussie grow properly, but it also keeps adult aussies strong, fit and able to recover after intense exercise.

One thing I see time and time again is dogs that are underweight are often on the wrong kind of kibble for their breed.

Australian shepherds are highly active working dogs at heart, they have super quick metabolisms and need a formula (with high protein) to suit.

Brands like Orijen and Acana are my favorite, and have the perfect kind of protein/fat/carb and calorie levels.

5. Adjust portion sizes

💡 This is for adding calories.

At the end of the day you might not need to try fancy tricks with wet dog food, bone broth or peanut butter.

If you Aussie loves their food, and it’s a high quality formula tailored for working dogs like Aussies, you might just need to increase their portion size.

Perhaps the cup you are using isn’t quite a full cup… I know many friends of mine have had this issue.

They’ve found an old cup in the kitchen they sacrifice as being the “dog food cup” when in reality, it’s not actually quite a full size standard cup.

Exercise Requirements

Australian Shepherds, like huskies, require ample exercise. These dogs have a working heritage and crave physical activity.

Without enough exercise, your Aussie may conserve too much energy, inhibiting a healthy appetite.

At the same time, you don’t want to OVER do it with your Aussie either.

For a healthy adult 90 minutes per day is just right. 45 minutes in the morning and another 45 minutes in the evening is perfect.

If your Aussie is out running around for 3 or 4 hours then this could be the thing that’s causing the weight loss! Worth considering.


Awareness of your Aussie’s overall health is crucial. If something seems off, consult your vet immediately.

Knowing specific information about your breed can help you identify potential issues.

I hope this article has been informative and provided helpful ideas for your Aussie’s diet and weight management!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.