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Anyone got any advise for putting weight on a setter?

I've booked an appointment at the vets tomorrow as I am sick to death of people commenting on how 'skinny' she is on our walks. I even had someone, the otherday, asking for my details to pass on to the RSPCA because 'clearly she's being neglected'!


I have been taking her to the vets every 8 weeks or so, just to set my mind at rest as she has always been a slender dog but I'm starting to get panicky because of the constant comments.


She'll be 1 on the 21st January and still only weighs 17.4kgs. She does put weight but very slowly. We've increased her food - introducing lunch aagin - but the problem is, whatever goes in just gets burnt off on her run.


I've tried not letting her run for as long but when I bring her home she just harrasses me to go out again because she hasn't got rid of the extra energy.


My vet said, back in October - she weighed 16.4kgs - that ideally she would like to see another kilo on her but said we'd struggle because she's such an athletic dog. Well we've slowly got that on her but she looks no different.


She's a very healthy, bouncy dog, with a lovely glossy coat and bright eyes, so otherwise I have no concerns but I think the constant barrage of comments is making me paranoid.


Our behaviourist - she is also the head nurse at our vetinary hospital - has suggested giving her a daily dose of 'Zylkene', apparently it's a natural product containing lactium, idea being it just settles her a little as she's constantly on the go, thus not burning as many calories.


They have no worries over her at all and have assured me that if anyone does report us, they have a full record showing regular check ups to prove she is far from neglected. They said the problem is with the society we live in and the fact that so many dogs now are actually overweight so when people see a dog that is as it should be people assume it's underweight...still, doesn't make me feel any better when people can't keep their opinions to themselves - normally people who are standing there with their Labradors who are struggling to walk under the huge body!!:D


Any advise will be greatfully received, she's on the BARF diet so I like to keep things as natural as poosible.


Many thanks in advance :)


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I just had to reply, I know exactly how you must feel.  We have a 17 month old girl who unfortunately has had a lot of problems and is currently being investigated for Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  She is thin too thin and the looks and comments I get are awful.  I worry myself sick about her and people really dont help.  All I can say is try not to take it to heart, they dont know how much you love your baby and care for them and try not to worry they are a lean breed anyway.  I used to worry about our dog Bobby male Irish when he was young too as he was really sleek.  As long as the vet isnt too concerned try not to worry.


The only thing I can suggest for weight gain is Tripe and Tree Barks Powder (Dorwest) which slows down the rate of digestion and therefore they get more nutrients.  Just a thought it has helped bulk out my little girl.  But please try not to worry.




I'll certainly give the dorwest powder ago, I need to get somemore salmon oil so i'll order some at the same time :)
My Ruby who is now 10 years was so thin and would not eat as a puppy - eventually I took advice and cooked breast of lamb in a pressure cooker - removed the bones and that was that. I also cooked sprates in oil and Ruby filled out to a gorgeous girl

I must be the only one who enjoys the "your dog is so skinny" comments!  Has anyone had an overweight dog before?  It is hell.  The looks people give you and the poor dog who can't run and romp with the others because he has enough trouble just walking.  Our Brittany was wider than he was long.  Poor Jax was the last boy puppy left, had a hernia, so I guess no one picked him.  He had an odd shape with his belly touching the floor because his legs were too short at 8 weeks.  Even our vet said he is an "odd bod" isn't he.  I fell in love with the rejected boy.  He was a wonderful dog, but okay he was a tub o lard.  He stayed rotund through is life no matter what we did.  Neutering him only made him even heavier.  Brittany's are prone to gain weight. 

I worked in dog food and they liked us to take our dogs with us to work....I declined thinking that poor boy won't sell dog food!  Buy this and your dog can look like this too!  I guess that is why when I came back to Irish Setters, hearing the thin, lanky comments was delightful.  I know that a thinner dog has less health problems in the long haul and gives them room to expand a bit in their senior years without problems. 

Do you know lynn, I think I actually chatted on the phone to you last year before I got Darcey. We had a long chat and you answered all my questions. I'd called you but all of your litter had gone but you recommended the breeder I got her from!


Could be completely wrong though and you'll just think I'm a fruitcake!! Lol!

Yes that's right! Thought I recognised the name :)


Well, thank you for recommending her and helping me make up my mind to definitely get a setter, I love her to bits and the children think it's great that we have a dog that has exactly the same colour hair as their mummy's!

Hi Emma, I've just read through all the posts with interest and I have to admit a chuckle too.  It's clear from your posting that people's reaction when you're walking your dog are upsetting you, I hope you get enough from the 'responsible' comments here to put your mind at rest.  As for the other rude and frankly quite aggresive comment, my advice would be to smirk, shake your head and ignore.  I'm very new to this site but took the time to read through many of the old blogs and it appears to be something of a nasty habit for that one person.  I was on the receiving end of a rather acerbic comment myself when I made a post on another blog.....wouldn't it be lovely if we could all be so confident in our own opinions?  :)   I hope the visit to the vet is uneventful.  Leisa x
Having read this AND Ossian's Forum discussion (being mentioned by name) can I just put my tuppenceworth in.......
If your bitch has had a clean bill of health from your vet. If she doesn't "shit through the eye of a needle" (pardon the phrase, but you know what I mean) or pass everything she eats then it might be her metabolism. Some dogs, like some people can put on weight just by looking at a bowl of food, others can eat mountains and it will make absolutely no difference.....I wish I was the latter!!!!! Again, young dogs, like young people can live off nervous energy. The thinner they are the more nervous energy they seem to generate. Hence the heightened activity......it becomes a self-perpetuating problem!!! It could very much be nervous energy that is preventing her from putting on weight. Over- excercising to burn off all this excess energy will undo all the hard work you put in trying to fatten her up.
Hormones change metabolism, age changes metabolism, which is why most dogs who were thin as youngsters body up as they mature.
If she is about to have her first season, heightened hormonal activity could improve the situation.
I don't think vast quantities of food will help her. I do think the quality, fat content and greater calorific value per gram weight would be more benificial. Other members have already suggested foods that they have found worked for them and you could start from that. You will also find that as she gains weight her level of nervous energy will reduce in proportion. It will not be an overnight fix it will take time, years perhaps, but she will improve so take heart.
Thanks Eva!
Hope that never happens Sue...........
I have always had the opposite with my dogs (and myself).........slow metabolism, cheap to feed!!!!!! Louis (Concept) is now on a permanent diet as is Vita.......maybe it runs in families. Or maybe everything in my house puts weight on easily..........I wistfully look back on photos of myself when I was a size 10......oh happy days!!!!
I have a friend with a Pointer who went through all of this so my comments are based on watching him. He was a bag of bones, full of nervous energy, couldn't sit still for two minutes. His system wasn't able to cope with food in bulk only small quantities, little and often, or he would just bring it all up. Putting weight on him took nearly 3 years but now that he is fully bodied he is very much calmer and not so manic......life is a lot easier.
Thanks for everyone's helpful tips with Darcey. I feel a lot happier now as it seems that they all go through the 'skinny' stage. I'm going to keep up the monthly weight checks at the vets just in case some delightful person does report us to the RSPCA!



I had that with ruby, when out,(same age) people would say she skinny. but there such active dogs anyways, ruby filled out alot more now 2, when her coat and feathers started coming in and looks great! As setters are rare these days people are so used to seeing big barrelled dogs like labs etc.


Dnt feel paranoid we as setter owners know that there nature is to run, run, run! so there going to burn it straight off!


Have you tried feeding tripe, i giv that to rubez gud for putting weight on. giv raw or lightly boil


Kate and ruby




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