How to put weight on a skinny Australian Cattle Dog

Why is my Blue Heeler so skinny?

There are several reasons why your Blue Heeler is too skinny or even a little underweight. This can include poor nutrition or not consuming enough calories, too much exercise, stress or anxiety, or a dental issue discouraging them from eating. If your Blue Heeler has experienced a sudden dramatic weight loss there could be a serious medical reason. Consult your vet immediately.

We will look further into the various causes of why a Blue Heeler is too skinny or has sudden weight loss below.

Is my Adult Blue Heeler underweight?

The easiest way to tell if your Blue Heeler needs to gain a little bit of weight or is simply too skinny is to do a simple hands-on test.

Firstly, run your hands along the side of your Heeler’s torso. You should be able to feel the individual contour of your Blue Heeler’s ribs but there should be a light layer of fat. If there is no fat covering the ribs at all your dog is probably underweight.

Secondly,  look at your Blue Heeler from above. There should be a visually discernable waistline and you should be able to see an hourglass shape. There should also be visible muscle definition on a Blue Heeler. If the waistline is far slimmer than the rib cage they are too skinny. You should not be able to see the bones of the spine protruding through. This means they are extremely underweight.

Finally, Look at your Blue Heeler from the side. The rib cage should be lower than the belly but not by an extreme amount. If you can visibly see the ribs they are too skinny.

What is a healthy weight for a Blue Heeler?

For a healthy adult Blue Heeler, their weight would be in these ranges.

Female14 – 16kg (30 – 35lbs)
Male15 – 16kg(33 – 35lbs)

Blue Heeler Weight Range

However, a number on a scale is not always a good indication of their health and condition. A lean well-muscled Blue Heeler may weigh the same as an overweight Blue Heeler with less muscle mass (muscle weighs more than fat).

Knowing your Blue Heeler’s weight is a good start but may not tell the whole story.

Reasons why your Blue Heeler is too skinny

The reason your Blue Heeler is underweight or is losing weight may include –

Medical and Health issues

A sudden weight loss or the inability to put on weight regardless of how much your Blue Heelereats may be the result of a medical issue. If you have any concerns in regards to this, consult your vet.

Possible health issues that often cause weight loss include

  • Internal Parasites (often referred to as worms) Ensure your Blue Heeler’s worming is up to date.
  • Malabsorption of nutrients from food
  • Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Dental issues. If your Blue Heeler has pain in their mouth they may not be keen to eat.

Often, in addition, to weight loss, there will be other symptoms if your blue Heeler has a medical issue. This can include vomiting, diarrhea, or you may even see a change in their temperament and behavior.

Diet Related

This may be due to a poor quality diet that doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients, vitamins, or balance of protein and fats. Alternatively, their diet may be good but you are not feeding enough. The feeding quantities on dog food packages are only a guideline. Your particular Blue Heeler may require more than what is listed.

Some dogs may be fussy eaters and are simply not eating enough. Sometimes this is the result of them getting too many special treats. When it comes to eating their food they may be holding out for the good stuff.

To much exercise or activity

If your Blue Heeler is extremely active and gets a lot of exercise they may be burning calories faster than they can consume them. Exercise is crucial for a Blue Heeler to maintain good health but there is such a thing as too much, even for a Blue Heeler. For a guide to Blue Heeler exercise see here.

Old Age

As a dog gets into their senior years they begin to lose muscle mass and do not store fat as well. It is a good idea for them to have regular vet checkups and to be fed a senior diet formula.

How to get my Blue Heeler to gain weight

Once you have consulted your vet to make sure your Blue Heeler’s low weight is not a medical issue, there are a few ways you can go about putting weight on your dog.

Increase daily calorie intake

Add more calories to your Blue Heelers diet by increasing the volume of food or switching to a high-calorie diet. If changing your Blue Heelers food be sure to do it gradually to avoid an upset stomach or diarrhea. Give 10% of the new food on day one, and increase a little each day until a full transition is made. 

Feed higher levels of protein and fats. Foods that have a high carbohydrate content will fill your dog up with empty calories.

You can also add additional foods to their kibble. Try feeding 20% wet food in with their dry food. Wet food is often higher in calories and has high levels of protein and fat. You can even add an egg to their food which also is high in protein and fat.

This table shows an estimate of how many calories a Blue Heeler needs to maintain their current weight based on their daily activity. If you want them to gain weight you need to feed more than this.

Sedentary Rottweiler (little exercise daily)500 – 550 calories
Moderately Active 1 to 2 hours daily640 – 680 calories
Highly Active (2 or more hours intense) 770 – 850 calories

Maintenance Calories Daily

Increase the number of meals

If you are currently only feeding them once a day, try giving them three or four smaller servings throughout the day. Also, give them their last meal of the day one or two hours before bedtime. This will cause the body to store fat while they sleep.

Adjust their exercise schedule

If your Blue Heeler is getting excessive exercise they will be burning excessive calories. However, it is still crucial they are getting the right amount of exercise.  Cutting out too much exercise will cause them to lose muscle mass. Instead, reduce aerobic exercise and increase strengthening and muscle-building exercise. See here for details.

Muscles building exercise will help maintain or build muscle which will also increase their appetite.

Best food and supplements for Blue Heeler weight gain

To be able to put weight on your Blue Heeler you need to feed a high-quality and calorie food. These are my recommendations to achieve this goal.

Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food

Bully Max is the top pick of dog owners wanting to build muscle mass on their dogs. Each cup contains 535 calories and is high in both protein and fat.

View Bully Max on Amazon

Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food

This formula is created for dog athletes and contains 475 calories per cup. Also has high levels of protein (30%) and fat (20%). Proplan is my preferred brand and the one I use myself.

View Proplan Sport Dog on Amazon.

Dyne High-Calorie Animal Supplement

This supplement is an excellent way to add calories to your dog’s meals.  An ounce of this supplement will provide an extra 150 calories. Has a delicious vanilla flavor that dogs love. Great for fussy eaters.

View Dyne High-Calorie Supplement on Amazon.

Is my Blue Heeler puppy too skinny?

Puppies need plenty of energy to grow and develop their bodies. If you are concerned your Blue Heeler puppy is too skinny you can use the same visual and touch test you would use for an adult Blue Heeler (see the top of page). Place your hand on their rib cage.

You should be able to feel the ribs but there should be a layer of fat covering them. If the ribs are obvious to the eye they are probably underweight. In addition, if their spine or hip bones are visible and procuring they are probably underweight.

Puppies do go through a phase around 4 to 6 months old when they may look skinny and gangly. They have long legs that they need to grow into. As long as they are not boney as described above, this is normal.

The reason your blue Heeler puppy may be underweight is similar to the reasons for an adult Blue Heeler. The first thing to consider is any health issues. Consult your vet to eliminate any concerns.

Worms or internal parasites are common in puppies and they require regular worming. It is important to feed a quality puppy food that contains the protein and nutrients a puppy requires for growth.

How much weight should a Blue Heeler puppy gain per week?

From the age you take your Blue Heeler puppy home (around 8 to 12 weeks old), you should see a weight gain of 1kg (2.2 lbs). A gain of around 1kg (2.2lbs) on average should be fairly consistent up until around 8 to 9 months old.

At three or four-month-old, a Blue Heeler puppy will weigh around 30% of its expected adult weight. Blue Heelers will continue to grow up to between 12 to 18 months old but growth will have slowed down.

In conclusion

If you feel your Blue Heeler is too skinny or underweight, the first thing to do is consult your vet. They will do a full examination to determine if the cause is a medical issue. This is especially important if they are a puppy. It is crucial for a Blue Heeler puppy to get the right quality and volume of nutrients when they are growing. Poor nutrition at this stage of their lives can affect them as adults.

Once your vet has eliminated any medical reason for your Blue Heeler being underweight there are several ways you can help them gain weight. This can include increasing calorie intake, increasing the number of meals a day, and modifying their exercise routine. This can be achieved by reducing aerobic exercise and increasing muscle and strength-building exercise.