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Pet puppy not thriving

“My puppy’s not thriving!”

My 12-week-old Cocker Spaniel puppy is not doing as well as I’d anticipated. She is growing, but I can really feel her ribs and backbone, so I think she is underweight. She was wormed regularly by her breeder, and I have continued with the programme suggested by my vet. She is very bright and happy, her motions are solid, she is never sick, but she is always asking for food. I am feeding a dried complete puppy food. I weigh out the amount it says on the feeding guide according to the table for her bodyweight at 12 weeks of age. Do you have any suggestions?

Alison Logan advises...

There may be an underlying reason for your puppy not thriving, but before you do anything, I would suggest you re-check the feeding guide on the bag of food. You say you are feeding the amount recommended for her current bodyweight at this age, but I wonder whether it is actually suggesting the amount of food for a 12-week-old puppy whose adult weight will be this value? I encountered this only last week. It meant the puppy in question was being fed 90g of food per day instead of 190g! I therefore suggested a very gradual increase in the size of the meals, or else an upset stomach may have resulted. I’m looking forward to re-weighing this little fellow after two weeks of the correct amount of food, and hopefully his condition score will have gone from three out of nine, to four or even five out of nine.

This would be a very simple solution to your worries, and you would just need to monitor your puppy’s weight and her body condition to ensure she is improving. However, if this is not the case, or if she is still not starting to thrive after you have corrected the amount you are feeding, I would look at the quality of her food. If you are satisfied that you are feeding a well-balanced puppy diet, then make an appointment for your vet to examine your puppy, and take along a fresh sample of her faeces.