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Small puppy. Rnt?

Species: Dog
Breed: Purebred BullMastiff
Age: Less than 3 mon
Hi, I just purchased a purebred BullMastiff puppy. He is very happy and seems to be doing great. My concern however is that he is so small for his age. He is 8 weeks old and only weighs 4.2kgs. My vet says he is underweight. He otherwise in good health. He was dewormed. He eats and drinks well. The breeder said that he and some others from the litter werent eating as well as they should be(this was a couple weeks ago) So when I got him, I was very surprised to see how tiny he is. So is this the reason for his lack of weight gain. How can I correct it. I would greatly appreciate what insight and suggestions you have for me so I can get him to catch up in his weight and develop normally. The breeder did not say he was the runt, so I am unsure why he is so small. Please, what can I do.
Hope to hear from you soon.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Brandi and thanks so much for your question.

There are a few reasons for a puppy to be underweight. However, it is really good that he is eating well as most of the things that would make me concerned would cause a small appetite.

One thing that can cause a dog to be really small is a condition called a portosystemic shunt (or liver shunt). However, this is much more common in little breeds, and usually we will see a poor appetite and other signs of "just not doing well."

Have you had him checked for parasites? Even if he doesn't have diarrhea it is a good idea to have your vet look at a stool sample to be sure that there are no parasites affecting him. There are some parasites that are not killed by regular dewormers so it is still a good idea to do this even if he has been dewormed.

Do you have a way to weigh him every few days? As long as he is gaining weight from this point on then I am not too concerned. Some pups do get off to a slow start. Sometimes one pup can have a hard time nursing because the other pups are more aggressive and hogging the mammary glands, so this could be why he is smaller than the others.

How is his thirst? If you think he drinks a large amount of water then I would highly advise having your vet do some tests to make sure he hasn't been born with a congenital kidney disease. But again, this is quite uncommon.

As far as what to do now, it's all about good nutrition. But, I don't think you need to be adding supplements or anything to his food. He simply needs to be on a good quality puppy food. I like Royal Canin, Science Diet and Iams, but there are several good ones out there.

It sounds like you are doing the right things. So, keep checking his weight. My guess is that he will catch up in no time!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you so much for your insight. I do agree about the lack of eating from when he was first born. Grunt seems to have quite a laid back and easygoing personality so maybe he wasn't aggressive enough to feed like the others. I did bring in a sample of his stool when I had a check up yesterday. They said it was fine. They did deworm(he was also dewormed by the breeder) him yesterday and then I am suppose to deworm in two weeks. My Vet figured he did have worms because of his "pot bellied appearance. So having worms, is a factor in lack of weight gain? When he does eat, he eats thru out a period of time, not all in one sitting. I'm new to the puppy thing but I would have thought he would gobble it up all at once. Is there a certain amount of weight per week we should be aiming for? Is it okay to mix a little wet food in his kibble to entice him to eat more?? Thank you sooooo much for the info. I look forward to hearing back from you:)

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome!

It sounds like you are doing all of the right things.

Parasites can cause some failure to gain weight but really it is not usually dramatic. I really think this is more a case of him not nursing as well as the other pups when he was little.

Eating several small meals is actually better for him than eating a massive meal all at once.

Most foods will have a guide on the side of the bag that tells you how much to feed according to his weight. Usually this guide is a little on the high side. So, if he is eating close to this amount then I think all is well. If he is eating quite a bit less then I would suggest adding a canned food like you mentioned.

It's hard to say how much weight we should expect him to gain each week. Really, as long as the weight keeps going up then there is not likely to be a problem.

Hope that helps!

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.