How to Fatten Up a Rat Terrier Dog

How to Fatten Up a Rat Terrier Dog

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Rat Terriers are very high spirited and upbeat dogs, so it's not surprising that many of them end up underweight. Learn how to get your Rat Terrier feeling healthy here.

Rat Terriers are typically active, energetic dogs. This can mean that even well-fed dogs burn so many calories each day they still look thin and undernourished. For these Rat Terriers, there are several ways you can approach helping them to gain weight. Choose the method that works best for you and your dog, and give it time to take effect before you try to determine whether you are on the right track or not. If it doesnโ€™t seem to be working, you can always switch to a different method or try using two or more strategies at the same time.

Weight Checks

Rat Terriers are generally lean dogs with slender bodies, so even if they seem a bit thin, they might actually be fine. A good way to check is to look down on them from above, while they are in a standing position. You should be able to see their shape, with a definite narrowing from the ribs to the hips. Their ribs and hip bones should not be obvious or sticking out. Run your hands down the sides of your Rat Terrier. If you can feel the ribs just slightly, but they are not pronounced, your dog is at a good weight. If you can easily feel each rib, the dog is too thin, and if you have trouble finding the ribs, the dog is overweight.


To help underweight Rat Terriers gain weight, the easiest strategy to try is to increase the amount of food you give them each day. One way to do this is to add an additional meal to the normal routine, so that you are feeding them three times per day instead of two. Alternatively, you can feed Rat Terriers the same number of meals but increase the amount given at each regular feeding. Adding between-meal treats such as cubes of boiled liver or chicken is another way to increase how much food your Rat Terrier gets.

Free Feeding

Place a dish of good-quality dry dog food where your Rat Terrier can reach it at any time of the day or night. This isnโ€™t a good strategy for puppies, since they need to relieve themselves soon after eating, but it works well for adult dogs that are able to wait to go outside. Allowing dogs to choose when and how much to eat may result in them taking in extra calories, helping thin dogs to gain weight. Only use dry kibble for free feeding, since moist foods of any kind may spoil and possibly make your dog ill.


Since Rat Terriers are small, they do best when fed a concentrated food that is rich in protein and other nutrients. Check the ingredients, and if a grain such as corn is listed as the first ingredient, try switching to a food that has a specific type of meat, such as chicken or beef, listed first. Ingredients are listed based on how much is used in the food, so the first ingredient is the largest single component of the food. Grain-based dog foods can be hard for small dogs to digest, whereas protein-based dog foods are highly digestible, so your dog gets the full benefit of the food. If your Rat Terrier still doesnโ€™t fatten up, have your veterinarian check for worms or other health problems.

Rat Terrier Information: Health

The Rat Terrier is a small American dog, bred as a companion family and farm dog. As with many small dogs, the Rat Terrier is prone to dental problems and luxating patella, along with a few other common ailments. Generally speaking, however, the Rat Terrier is healthy and hardy, and may live as long as 18 years.

Primary Health Conditions of the Rat Terrier

Allergies, both inhalants as well as food, are common among this breed. Rat Terriers may be allergic to anything, from grass to food. Symptoms of food allergies include loose stool and vomiting; elements of the dogโ€™s diet should be changed with veterinary intervention. Some environmental allergies are seasonal, and may be treated like human allergies, but always with veterinary oversight. Misaligned jaws, or Malocclusion, may be common with the Rat Terrier, but this issue will not typically affect their health. In few extreme cases, the dog may irritate the roof of its mouth, or its tongue, because its teeth are misaligned. In this case, some teeth may need to be pulled. Generally speaking, the only result of malocclusion is a funny under or overbite. Patellar luxation - slippage of the kneecap - is common with many small dogs, and can often be corrected with surgery. A luxating patella can cause pain and limping in the dog, leading to decreased activity. Weight control is a good way to avoid the issue. Regular home dental care is recommended, as the Rat Terrier can suffer from diseases of both the teeth and gums, which can lead to infections of the bloodstream and other problems. The Rat Terrier may also be prone to Legg-Perthes syndrome, a degeneration of the head of the femur that causes walking difficulties and pain. Surgery can treat this condition as well.

Rat Terrier Exercise and Walking Needs

The Rat Terrier is an active and intelligent breed that requires a few moderately paced walks a day to remain content. Active and creative play inside, with new tricks taught, and new games played, will keep the Rat Terrierโ€™s mind nimble and engaged.

Rat Terrier Nutritional Needs

Aside from the possibility of allergy issues, the Rat Terrier has no overt dietary needs. Portions should match the dogโ€™s age and activity levels. The Rat Terrier will lead a longer, healthier life with good weight management and proper nutrition.

References & Resources

Dogtime: Rat Terrier
Rat Terrier: FAQs: Food and Treats
ASPCA: My Dog Canโ€™t Gain Weight

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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