Why Is My Great Dane So Skinny
Dog Care Tips · Dog Health

Why Is My Great Dane So Skinny? 6 Unavoidable Reasons

Last Updated/Info Checked on October 16, 2023 by Scott

Great Danes become lanky and lean as they grow. That’s how the breed is. But that may worry the owners thinking that they may not be feeding them well enough. 

However, your dog may not be skinny at all! Read on to know how you could tell that.

Besides, there are some reasons why a Great Dane may be skinny such as Malnutrition, overexercising, gastrointestinal problems, parasites, diabetes, and dental issues. 

Why Is My Great Dane So Skinny - Infographic

6 Reasons That Make Your Great Dane Skinny

Let’s discuss the reasons for your Great Dane weight loss that may have been making your dog’s ribs and spine visible. The answer to your question, “Is my Great Dane too skinny?”.

1. Malnutrition

Adult dogs are supposed to eat at least two times a day, according to AKC. That food has to be nutritious. Vets recommend kibble because it has all the required nutrition and you can top it up with safe human foods for dogs such as bananas, apples, cucumbers, or pumpkins.

Your dog may be malnourished if it isn’t eating enough. Some self-proclaimed experts recommend that you should feed a dog once a day, which is absurd and may lead to malnutrition. 

It’s well established that you should take into account the activities, routine, and health conditions before deciding whether to feed the pet once or twice. The latter is the standard, by the way.

Not complying with that may have led to a reduction in the weight of your pooch. Dig deeper into the routine and understand what you’ve been feeding the dog and for how many times a day.

Not sure what to feed your dog? Watch this to learn:

2. Overexercising

Great Danes are high-energy dogs. They do everything with unbound intensity. That may prompt you to over-exercise them because they don’t say no to any physical activity. 

However, experts recommend that you should only exercise a dog for about 1 to 2 hours, including a 30 to 45-minute walk.

Anything more than that will lead to your Great Dane losing weight which will ultimately make your Great Dane skinny, lethargic, and prone to many physical and mental diseases.

3. Gastrointestinal Issues

Vomiting, diarrhea, inconsistent bowel movements, IBS, and allergies to some foods are some of the GI tract issues that may be depriving your dog of all the necessary nutrients even if it eats the right food.

How to know that? Monitor your dog’s routine to rule out any reasons for not eating well. Does it leave food in the bowl? Is some food lying around on the floor? Understand the eating behaviors, monitor the poop’s consistency and frequency, and then go to your vet if things aren’t encouraging.

4. Parasites

VCA Hospitals have listed some dog parasites that may be present in your Great Dane. Their presence is a clear indication that the food eaten is going somewhere else. Heartworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and all their varieties feed on the food the dog eats.

But these are internal parasites. According to AKC, external parasites such as fleas, mites, and ticks feed on the blood of canines. While they may not be the chief reason for weight loss, they can cause some diseases that may disrupt the dog’s eating habits. 

For example, fleas carrying tapeworms could find themselves in the stomach of the Great Dane, thus, infecting them. Ticks cause diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme, and other conditions that make a dog seriously sick. Lice and mites may cause hair loss and in the worst condition, skin infections. The dog will be more busy scratching itself than eating.

Look for the signs of incessant scratching to get an idea if the dogs have any external parasites or not. It’s best to bathe them with anti-parasites to rule out this reason for skinny Great Danes. 

5. Diabetes

One of the chief side effects of diabetes in dogs is weight loss. As AKC says, dogs aren’t able to convert nutrients from the food they eat when they are suffering from diabetes. That inadvertently makes them lose more weight than they gain.

In turn, not getting enough nutrition makes them hungrier. They will eat more and want more food. It’s like a vicious cycle with no end in sight until you intervene.

Have your pooch checked for diabetes at the earliest if you’re experiencing a change in its eating habits such as eating more and drinking more, urination, appetite, and weight loss.

6. Poor Dental Health

PetMD says that loss of weight and appetite is one of the consequences of rotting teeth. Examine the teeth of your pooch. If they are rotten, then the dog may find chewing and eating food hard. It may throw up food from its mouth and in some instances may not even open its mouth to eat some.

According to the same publication, poor dental health and weight loss combined may show that the dog is suffering from serious diseases in the liver, kidneys, and heart.

How do I know if my Great Dane is underweight?

How do I know if my Great Dane is underweight

One way to know if your dog is underweight is to keep an eye on its weight. The Great Danes should be 100 to 200 pounds, depending on the age.

However, it’s the dog’s body condition score that lets you know properly if it’s underweight or not.

Purina has established some visual aspects for that matter. You can rely on your vet to give your dog its body condition score. It’s a score from 1 to 9 with 4 to 5 being the ideal one.

Severely Underweight Great Danes

Comfort the dog and make it stand right in front of you. Your viewpoint should be exactly parallel to the dog’s body. 

Run fingers along the hips, backbone, and ribs. In underweight dogs, you’ll feel all of them without a proper layer of fat on them. 

The waistline will be visible. In fact, you’ll be able to see the hip bone protruding and the waist exaggerated.

Because of immense weight loss, the tummy will be shrunk inside.

Slightly Underweight Great Dane

You’ll be able to feel the rib cage, spine, and backbone quite easily but with a layer of fat. 

The waistline will be obvious but not too prominent. At least some muscle and fat will cover it.

As they call it tummy tuck, in Great Danes slightly underweight, it’s pushed inside a little but not severe enough to shock you.

Are Great Danes Supposed To be Skinny?

Great Danes are supposed to be lean but not skinny. They may look skinny because of their bodily features.

The ideal features of a healthy Great Dane are easily-felt ribs, spine, and hip bones but not protruding ones with at least some layer of fat, a considerable tummy, and a traceable waistline. Your dog will have a body condition score of 4 or 5 if it has these features.

How can I fatten up my Great Dane?

Considering that your Great Dane is skinny because it has a body condition score below 4, you can fatten it up by increasing the meal portions or sizes or increasing the number of times you feed it. 

Increase Meal Times and Portions

Ideally, as I said, a healthy dog should be fed twice a day but seeing your dog’s skinny condition, you can increase it up to three times until it’s fattened up. 

But do not overdo anything. If you’ve not decided on the cups or grams of food you should include per meal, then ask your vet. 

Normally, every dog food company gives its recommended portion sizes and meal times on the back of its pack.

Include Safe Human Foods

Malnutrition dogs require more than dog food. They don’t require them because they don’t need them in their routine, especially when they’re on a kibble diet. But that’s for a healthy dog.

Skinny Great Danes should have treats in between meals that will not only give them the necessary minerals and elements called phytonutrients but also keep them satisfied.

Some of the foods to consider are bananas, apples, cucumbers, carrots, pumpkins, fish, plain meat, chicken, turkey, cooked potatoes, ripe tomatoes, and so on.

Also, keep in mind that you cannot just feed anything to the dog from your table. Great Danes like all dog breeds are intolerant to salt, excess sugar, and foods containing solanine, tomatine, calcium oxalates, and more.

Why Is My Great Dane Adult or Puppy So Skinny? Conclusion

Your Great Dane is skinny if you can feel its ribcage, hip bones, and spine. It should have an exaggerated waistline with a sucked-in tummy.

There should be some behavioral changes such as lethargy, inconsistent urine, and reduction in activity. However, not finding these in the dog may mean that it’s okay. You may be worried because the breed is intrinsically lean.

Related: Are Great Danes good with other dogs?

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