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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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Hi Kate,


Darcey is on the BARF diet so regularly has 'green' tripe. She normally has it a few times a week. I've started adding some Hill Nature's Best to her meat etc, just to give her a bit of a boost.


I think the thing is, even if you know they're fine, when you constantly get bombarded with 'skinny' comments, you do begin to wonder. Like you say, they're rare and so many dogs nowadays are extremely stocky.


have you said how often you feed Darcey?


I know you BARF but what are you using?


You might like to think about feeding a little more and more often. If you feed twice, feed three times and try making "supper" something quite stodgy. Weetabix or porridge? That will get a chance tolie n her tummy while she sleeps.

I feed her 3 times a day:


Brekkie : 1.5lb of meat (normally chicken for am), just stared adding 100g of Hills

Lunch:  150g hills + chicken wing (only gets if she eats all of the Hills)

Dinner: 1.5lb of meat (lamb, tripe, venison etc) + 100g of Hills + veg + salmon oil

Supper: 2 chicken wings


3 x a week probiotic yoghurt with pureed friut.

3 x a week fresh sardines / tuna in oil

2 x raw egg


She also gets 1/2 chicken carcass or lambs neck a couple of times a week. And for 'regular' treats she has sea jerky twists.


I think that's it! Lol!


I just want to use the Hills short term though, maybe until she stops growing?


I might try the porridge though, are they okay with oats and wheat, I was advised to avoid wheat?

As far as I know we don't have Whipworm here in the UK, yet, although there are a few 'new' kinds of worms here now...as for the BARF diat.........I agree Viv, we all feed differently, but.... and again personally, I disagree with the BARF diet....(I know of too many dogs that have had perforated gut and torn gullets and intestines with chicken bones), and strange as it may seem, (as vet recommend chicken for sick dogs) there are far more dogs with allergies to Chicken than you would expect..

I know that I don't have to say about changing your dogs diet, but I am going to never-the-less, please do it very very slowly, and add something new a little at a time, or you will cause more problems than you want to cure...

Apparently Beef is one of the things that is less likely to cause any allergies, dogs find gluten highly difficult to metabolise, and Trip is very good for weight gain, although it doesn't have much nutritional value, I don't think. although we used to feel it and terrier biscuits with a few vitamins in the 'old days.' There is a feed that mine love, 'Taste of the Wild' it is good for weight gain. I said before I use Royal Canin with just a few 'bits and pieces' added, when necessary, All three of mine are of good weight NOW.....

One thing I do know, this discussion gives people that are 'new' to the thin dog a great amount of different advise, we all may be rite or wrong, but try a little bit of what you think may work, and keep the rest in mind, just in case it doesn't. Most of us have been 'in' this breed for a long time, (personally I have owned these dogs for nearly 40 years). And in that time things have changed re feeding, and we have all adapted to the different regimes, so experiment, but give each thing a good bit of time to work, or not.... 

Well done Tracy, with the 'new addition' I think that heart worm restricts the activity of the heard, (blocked with the actual worm) and Microfilaria????? (the immature form of the worm...can't spell to save my life) affect the blood stream, and this affects the breathing, a badly affected dog, finds it difficult to breath....and consequently looses weight. and if untreated will ultimately die. I also think that this is passed by Mosquito's, and so far here in the UK we don't have it...global worming and all that, it probably won't be long before we do..Please let me know if I am wrong about this.....just learning about all the other types of Worms etc, yuk!!!!

That aside there are tests that can be done to find out allergies and other problems...re Gluten intolerances etc..And yes we can't compare our 'pet' dogs with wolves, their life styles are totally different, they probably have a 'few' fasting days, something that I did years ago...and don't do now...

The acid contents of a dogs stomach is much higher than that of us humans. and there are some that will get stomach ulcers, if they have a time that their stomach is empty for any length of time...(I have one of those)

Our dogs mean the word to us, or we wouldn't be here talking about problems that they have, but like us they are all different. And it is 'trial and error' as to finding the correct feed for them...just give each  'tryout' a chance. it needs time to 'kick in'



Thanks for the info...and the spelling, never been good at it, if my life depended on spelling I would have been dead many years ago...

I too have seen the 'congested heart' horrible....but very informative..

As for the diarrhoea thing, I have one here, and it has taken me 5 years to 'get to the bottom of it' still haven't got there totally. but very nearly...

You are lucky to have a 'tame' vet, even if he is snoring....haha...

it is difficult trying to tell people that they may be in for the long hall re getting to the bottom of any problem...but we are in it for that, or we would just 'get rid' of anything that doesn't come up to standered...some do...me.....never, If I keep anything for more than a couple of months then it is here for the rest of its life, well apart from a couple of exceptions, my horses and Llamas, for instant. I had to move into a 'house' so they went to a sanctuary, and that is for the rest of their days...

But the dogs are my 'kids' so will do anything within reason to keep them happy and healthy... 

I too couldn't get the reply in the correct place no 'reply' ...thing

Hi Emma

She gets a lot and thats a lot of protein even for a pup of one.


If I was presented with a young setter zooming around high energy I would ask the owner what they feed and if the dog was eating an "all in one" I would check the protein level and ask them to drop it down to around 22 %


With Barf its more of a suck it and see with levels but I would be adding more bulk  a good old fashoined whole meal mixer and step back the lamb and beef and go to the tripe. Take out the wings for a while and use lamb ribs.


Most birds in the food chain are very very young at their demise (slaughter) so the "wing" is not a difficult bone to digest.  A small sharp object like a wing bone enters the digestive system and immediately the very acid juices (the gall) attack that and the sharpedge diosapears very quickly to allow it to be passed through safely. It would only be a sharp piece of splinter (perhaps from those roasted or bleached bones you buy) that would cause real harm


Porridge is an oat product and should be ok

Do you think I should drop down the amount of Hills she's getting, thus lowering her protein? I was thinking of lowering the weight I give her anyway because she picks half of it out! Lol! Maybe stop her lunch? It would give me a lot more flexability for walking times as well.

I think for now, I'll just keep her as she is, I've just introduced the Hills but I think I'm going to cut out the luchtime meal as she's started to leave her food, she is obviously getting too full.


I'll try her like this until her next weigh in otherwise I'm not going to know what's working and what's not!


I've actually noticed a difference in her over the past week, since she came into season, her ribs are much less noticable :)

Well done Emma - you sound calmer!
Yes, I definitely am Ossian. It's great to know that everyone has been in the same boat and had to deal with the ignorance of 'non-setter' members of the public! :D

Yes I too have had an underweight and fussy lady to feed. As a baby puppy I had to remove Nuela from the show ring due to her light frame. I then began to feed her, her dried formula as normal, but started to add chicken mince and would add gravy to every meal that I fed her. While the others would devour their checken necks I would find hers hidden in various places. After several weeks of adding gravy, scrambled egg etc to every meal I again began to give her chicken necks after her meal as an extra. Thankfully she has never looked back. She is now a good eater and once a week I add a natural yoghurt to their meal to help with the digestive system.

As youngsters I always restrict their exercise to a short run twice a day and all other exercise of the lead. As I found with my guys sometimes expensive foods such as Eukanuba etc is not always popular with the dog and vets do have a tendancy to recommend these expensive brands. I am sure with a little variety of food and restricted exercise your girl will begin to put some weight on.




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