There might be cases when a dog needs to put on weight for health reasons. These dogs are usually rescued, sick or elderly dogs.
Ensure is a nutrition supplement designed for humans and is known for its rich nutrient content.
But is it suitable, or even beneficial, for our canine companions?
Feeding your dog Ensure might not be the best to help it gain weight. This liquid supplement contains a lot of sugar and dairy which can have a negative effect on your dog’s health. There are better ways to help your dog gain weight without using Ensure.
In this article, we will take a closer look at what Ensure is and what other safer ways you can use to help your pooch put on some pounds.
What Is Ensure?
Ensure is a meal supplement that is formulated for humans that require extra nourishment.
It is meant to help people who need to maintain their current weight or bring up their weight to a healthy level.
It can work well for the elderly or people who are recovering from surgery or have trouble eating solid foods.
Nutritional Value Of Ensure
Ensure is basically a high protein/calorie nutritional supplement milkshake. The protein comes from milk and soy protein isolate and provides up to 9 essential amino acids.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown per serving:
Calories: 250 kcal
There are also vitamins and minerals in ensure that help to boost the immune system and support normal bodily functions.
These vitamins and minerals are:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
How Safe Is Ensure For Dogs?
Generally speaking, the majority of dogs will be able to take some amount of Ensure without too much trouble.
What we are more concerned about is the long-term effects of using Ensure as dog food or a meal supplement for your dog.
Here are some reasons why ensure can cause some issues.
Dogs Are Lactose Intolerant
The majority of the Ensure product range contains some form of dairy in them.
Most dog owners think that feeding dairy products to their dogs is fine but that’s not true.
The only time that dogs are fine consuming milk products is when they are puppies. Growing puppies require their mother’s milk or specially formulated drinks.
Once they are weaned off their mother’s milk or reach a certain age, their bodies start to lose the ability to break down lactose.
When dogs drink Ensure that is very high in dairy, it can lead to the following issues:
It ain’t fun and games when your dog has a bad bout of diarrhea and starts pooping all over the house.
There are some dogs that have it lucky and can still tolerate dairy products after their puppy stage.
Unfortunately, the only way for us to ascertain if our dogs are lactose intolerant is to actually feed them dairy products.
Do note that some dogs can have severe dairy allergies that can cause severe side effects when fed anything that contains dairy,
Dogs Do Not Require Sugar
Every serving of Ensure contains about 13g of sugar. It contains corn syrup and corn maltodextrin which are both very high in sugar content.
Dogs are carnivores in nature and do not need any carbohydrates or sugar in their diet.
A large portion of their diet should come from animal protein, preferably from canned or raw food.
Feeding your dog dry food is bad for health as it contains a large amount of carbs, fillers and by-products.
When dogs drink Ensure they are taking in sugar that their body does not require.
It won’t be toxic to them but too much sugar consumption can cause health problems in the long run.
Excessive sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to these health issues:
- Canine Obesity
- Internal Inflammation
- Dental issues
Do you know that more than 50% of dogs in the United States are overweight?
Too many dog owners are feeding their dogs foods that are high in sugar like pop tarts.
Just as how we teach our children to watch their sugar intake, we need to be even more diligent with our dog’s consumption.
Some of the Ensure products like Ensure Max Protein contain artificial sweeteners to help lower the sugar content for the consumer.
It might seem more healthy on paper but artificial sweeteners contain a compound called xylitol which is extremely toxic to both dogs and cats.
It can be found in your everyday products like toothpaste.
Xylitol can cause a rapid drop in your dog’s sugar levels and even liver failure.
Please keep your pets away from anything that contains xylitol.
While not all types of artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs, too much can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach.
What Can I Give My Dog To Gain Weight?
During these times, it is important that we do what we can to help our underweight dogs maintain or put on body weight via high-calorie dog food.
Here are some ways that you can get your dog to eat more.
Regardless of whatever diet your dog is on, feeding your dog some shredded chicken can help to perk up its appetite.
I prefer to use chicken thigh as it is tastier as compared to chicken breast.
You can also explore other meat options such as beef, venison, lamb, duck or rabbit.
Boil the entire piece of chicken thigh till it’s cooked and shred it to pieces once it has cooled down.
Sprinkle a generous amount over your dog’s food to try to get it to eat more.
Do not add any oil, seasoning or sodium to the chicken as it can further worsen your dog’s appetite.
It is easier to cook more in advance and just freeze the remainder in separate containers. When it is time to feed your dog, just bring one serving out to thaw.
Pumpkin has a number of health benefits for both pets and humans. It is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
The best way to feed your dog pumpkin is to steam a slice of fresh pumpkin. You can even blend it in a blender to make pumpkin puree.
Some supermarkets sell canned pumpkin puree which you can also use. Just make sure that there aren’t any additional seasonings or ingredients added to it.
A small serving of pumpkin can help give your dog a nutritional boost and activate its digestive system.
Another popular use of pumpkin among pet owners is to treat constipation. Pumpkin is rich in fiber and can help to regulate your dog’s bowel movements.
Bone broth is my go-to secret recipe when my dog isn’t having much of an appetite. It is simple to make at home and it is very nutritious for your dog.
Fill a pot of water and throw in a bunch of beef bones, chicken bones or turkey bones.
This might not sound appetizing to most but try using chicken feet to make a yummy ‘feet’ broth for your dog.
Chicken feet broth is rich in collagen, calcium and other nutrients.
Let the broth cool in the fridge and skim off the fat that has solidified on the surface.
Heat up a small amount till it is slightly warm before adding some broth to your dog’s food.
Whichever bones you use to make the bone broth for your dog, please do not feed the cook bones to your dog or cat.
Cook bones can splinter and cause injury to your dog’s throat and mouth.
High-Calorie Dog Treats
If your dog has always been food motivated, making some homemade dog treats that are high in calories yet safe for dogs can help to boost its caloric intake.
When making such treats, do be mindful of the sugar and dairy used as too much of such ingredients can be unhealthy.
As a dog owner myself, I do find that dogs can handle carbs much better than cats.
Adding some low GI carbs such as sweet potato, banana, oats or beans can help boost your dog’s calorie intake.
Why Isn’t My Dog Eating?
An animal’s appetite is a strong barometer of its current health. If your pet isn’t eating, you might have a sick dog on your hands.
Here are some possible reasons that could be affecting your dog’s appetite.
Dogs that do not have good dental hygiene are at high risk of developing dental issues as they get older.
This can affect their teeth and gums, making it painful for them to eat.
If there’s bleeding in your dog’s mouth or your dog’s breath smells really bad, there’s a high possibility of dental disease.
The best way to prevent this is regular teeth brushing and a diet low in sugar.
When dogs are stressed, they won’t really be in the mood for food. Stress can be brought about when there’s a change in the environment or a new pet at home.
Most dogs with stress-related issues tend to get better over time.
This title usually goes to a cat but there are some dogs that can be really fussy eaters as well.
If you have recently changed your dog’s diet or brand of food, it can cause your dog to eat less or not eat at all.
I remembered those days when I first transitioned my dog from dry food to a raw meat diet.
He just refused to eat unless I mixed in some kibbles with his raw food.
Thankfully, he grew out of this need after a month.
You can expect your dog’s appetite to get smaller as it gets older. Older dogs tend to eat less as they aren’t as energetic as below.
Their energy metabolism is also a lot slower than an older dog.
Even though it is normal, you should not let your dog’s weight drop too much as it still needs to maintain its body weight for a healthy immune system.
Underlying Medical Issue
A sick dog wouldn’t have much of an appetite as well. If your dog has a sudden loss of appetite, it could mean that it might not be feeling well.
Look out for signs like diarrhea, a fever, lack of energy or a change in its usual habits.
What Should I Do If My Dog Doesn’t Want To Eat?
As dog owners, we need to always be mindful when we notice a change in our dog’s appetite.
Most dogs are food motivated and when they start to show disinterest in food, something must be troubling them.
Take a day or two to try and rekindle your furry friend’s appetite for its standard dog food.
In the event that it doesn’t work, please take your dog to the vet for a medical check-up.
Ensure is mostly safe for humans but giving your old or sick dog Ensure might not be the best way to get more calories into your dog.
Try the above methods first to see if they can get your dog to eat more again.
If you have any doubts about your dog’s well-being, please consult your vet sooner than later.