It’s not uncommon for standard poodles to struggle with their weight. I receive many messages from owners explaining how their poodle is underweight and what they should do.
Over the years, I’ve had to tackle this same issue with my pooches, so I know how any owner feels in this situation.
I’ll explain the main causes of underweight poodles, their eating habits in general, how much they should weight, and how to help your poodle gain weight slowly and safely.
Table of Contents
What Are Poodles Supposed to Weigh?
Before trying any of the following tips, it’s important to know how much your poodle should weigh in the first place. Let’s explain the average weights below.
The average weight of adult Standard Poodles:
- Male Poodle: 45-70 pounds (20-31kg)
- Female Poodle: 45-60 pounds (20-27kg)
Some poodles could be 2 years old before completely filling out and reaching physical maturity. It’s important to keep this in mind when weighing her. If your poodle is under 24 months, this could very well be the reason.
One time-proven method for assessing whether your pooch is underweight or overweight is to simply look and touch!
You should be able to feel her ribs a little amount with light pressure. If you can feel them too easily without pressure then it’s likely she’s underweight. Conversely, if you have a hard time feeling them even with heavy pressure, she could be overweight.
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5 Reasons Your Poodle Is Underweight
Let’s run through the five most common reasons why poodles become skinny and underweight.
In most cases, the cause of a skinny poodle is down to insufficient calories. Other reasons include food refusal (lacking calories), too much exercise, their age, or health issues.
1. Diet / Lack of Calories
The first area to look at is her diet. Your poodle may not be getting along well with her current food. All dogs are different and so too is their food, dog food that works well for one poodle, may not work well for yours.
Opting for a high-quality, premium brand is always recommended. It’s more expensive, but there’s a good reason for a higher price tag. Premium ingredients cost more for the manufacturer and therefore have a higher price for you too.
Inferior brands that fill their dog foods with fillers, additives, and preservatives are able to charge less because those ingredients cost less. All of which can make your poodle ill.
Your poodle could be extra sensitive to common allergens. Chicken, despite being so popular is actually an allergen; so too is beef, pork, and lamb. It’s completely possible that your poodle doesn’t get along well with chicken.
If you want to change foods, I recommend opting for dog food made for sensitive stomachs that avoid chicken. Salmon, duck, or turkey are better alternatives.
2. Fussy Eating
There may not be anything wrong with the food or diet that your poodle has. If she starts getting bored of it, she may begin to refuse it.
For dog owners, this can be very frustrating as we think we need to change foods when actually there’s nothing wrong with it.
One way to know if your poodle is just darn fussy is if the food you are using was once appealing. Food will either work well from the beginning or not. If there’s a genuine issue with the food, this would have been seen instantly from day one. Whereas fussiness usually occurs after having successfully consumed one food brand for a sustained period of time.
3. Too Much Exercise
Poodles have a medium to high exercise requirement. The AKC recommends 1 hour of moderate to intensive exercise per day.
If your current exercise routine looks like a 3 hour run with your poodle, this may be the reason.
Assuming there are no health issues at play, weight gain or weight loss is a simple calculation, it’s all about calories consumed, vs calories burned. If your poodle is burning more calories than she consumes, weight loss will be the result.
Think about your current routine and ensure it stays around the 1-hour mark.
4. Weight Loss In Senior Poodles
If you have a senior poodle (above 7 years) then weight loss may happen as a result of an underlying health condition, or at least what seems like no reason at all.
If you have a senior poodle that’s losing weight please contact your veterinarian as they will need to perform a health check to discover the cause of the weight loss.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag.
5. Health issues
Weight loss is also a symptom of various health issues, although in most cases health issues come with many additional symptoms.
Ruling out health issues is always important, so unless there’s a clear reason why your Poodle is underweight or skinny, then a check-up with your veterinarian is recommended.
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Assuming there are no underlying health issues at play, you can try the following tips to encourage your poodle to finish her meals and increase her calories.
- Use wet food with dry kibble
- Add unsalted chicken broth to her food
- Add peanut butter to her kibble
- Time-restricted eating
- Increase portion
1. Use Wet Food With Dry Kibble
This should be basic practice anyway, but there are still many people unaware of this split. It’s frequently recommended by veterinarians that you follow a 20% wet dog food / 80% dry kibble split.
There are many positive benefits from doing this, let’s take a look at them:
● Wet food is far more nutritionally dense than dry kibble
● Wet food is much higher in protein and real meat
● Wet food adds an appealing texture to the dry kibble (wet gravy!)
● It will make their food SO much tastier and more palatable
Adding in 20% wet food to 80% dry kibble will not only have your poodle instantly finishing her meals, but it will add a boost of quality nutrition to her diet. It’s definitely worth trying.
Recommended Wet Food Option: Purina ONE Natural Gravy
2. Add Unsalted Chicken Broth
This will work well if you suspect your poodle is simply being fussy. Try adding a little (unsalted) chicken broth over her dinners. This usually works well, but it’s important to use a healthy kind of chicken broth. Avoid using stock cubes that contain a high amount of salt, flavoring, or additives.
Please note: This shouldn’t be done in conjunction with the wet food / dry kibble split explained above. If you don’t have access to wet food, then try the chicken broth method, but avoid doing both together.
3. Try Adding Peanut Butter To Her Kibble
Peanut butter has been deemed safe for dogs to consume as long as it doesn’t contain Xylitol or high salt. It’s loved by most dogs and it’s a clever way to get them finishing their meals and adding extra calories to their diet.
Peanut butter is high in healthy fats and therefore contains a high amount of calories. Be sure to go easy with the serving, you only need to add in 1 tablespoon per day, or half a tablespoon for each meal. This will add enough flavor for her to be excited to eat her meals.
4. Time-Restricted Eating
If you don’t want to adjust, change, or add anything into her food then time-restricted eating is worth trying.
As the name implies, you limit the amount of time your poodle has to start eating her food. After putting her bowl down, give her 10 minutes. If she hasn’t touched her food, remove it. The initial 10 minutes is enough time for her to at least start.
This very quickly teaches your poodle that she needs to eat her food when you put it down, otherwise it will be gone. Usually, it only takes one or two times, before she starts eating straight away.
The first couple of times you try this, it will be a battle of will. You will feel very guilty for taking her food away, but you only need to do it once, maybe twice. Many owners have success with this trick and it usually prevents fussy eaters for a long time.
Please note: Don’t take her food if she’s already made a start, this is designed for fussy eaters that don’t even touch their food.
5. Increase Portion
So far everything has been based upon your poodle not eating her food. But what if she is?
Well, in these situations it suggests that she isn’t eating enough and that the calories per cup are not sufficient for her to maintain a normal weight.
The guidance given on food packaging labels is what we all know to follow but they don’t take into consideration breed type and daily routine. Poodles are very energetic and they love playing. Energetic dogs can easily burn a lot of calories just running around the house, let alone their dedicated exercise routine.
If your poodle seems to be healthy and enjoying her meals but she’s still underweight, try adding half a cup more to each meal and measure her weight in another 1-2 weeks.
I want to make it super simple to understand the different approaches available depending on your situation.
Your poodle is underweight but eating all of her meals
In this situation, it’s likely that she’s not consuming enough calories or she’s exercising too much, OR a little bit of both.
It’s best to first consider if she is receiving too much exercise. If that’s the case, try lowering it and see if her weight increases gradually (but always maintain 1 hour of dedicated exercise per day).
If you don’t think she’s receiving too much exercise then her food may just not have calories, try upping her meals by half a cup and check her weight in 1-2 weeks.
In some cases, this situation could be caused by an underlying health issue, but that would usually be coupled with some visible symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, worms, or lethargy. If you suspect anything is wrong, you must contact your veterinarian.
Your poodle is underweight and refusing her meals
Most of the tips outlined above are tailored towards this situation as this is the most probable. When a dog is underweight it’s nearly always due to refusing food. And the reason they refuse food can change.
When your poodle refuses to eat:
● Rule out health issues
● Consider whether it’s her stomach not agreeing with the food.
● Try to identify if she’s just being fussy
As long as there are no health issues your best course of action is to either change foods or start making her current food more appealing. As explained in the 5 tips above.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag www.thepuppymag.com
When To See a Veterinarian
If your poodle has refused to eat completely for 1-2 days, you should call your veterinarian to get some immediate advice, and you can schedule an appointment to visit them at the same time.
If you have a poodle puppy that’s not eating her food, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible to get further advice. Puppies are more vulnerable than adults and require can’t go as long without nutrition.
Your veterinarian will be able to perform the necessary tests to check if underlying health problems are causing your poodle’s weight issue.
If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, you don’t need to wait to contact your veterinarian. They are there to help you and should you think something is wrong, contact them as soon as you can.
Why Is My Poodle Skinny?
The most common reasons include:
- Dietary issues or lack of calories
- Fussy eating
- Too much exercise
- Senior (age related)
- Health issues
How Much Should Standard Poodles Weigh
- Males – 45-70 pounds (20-31kg)
- Females – 45-60 pounds (20-27kg)
How To Help Poodle Gain Weight
- Rule out health issues
- Use wet food with dry kibble
- Add unsalted chicken broth to kibble
- Add dog friendly peanut butter to kibble
- Increase portion
- Try time restricted eating for fussy eaters
So there you have it! You now have good ideas as to why your poodle is underweight, what could be causing it, and how to best resolve the issue. If you’ve dealt with this situation in the past please message me and explain how you solved it!