Is My Pug Skinny? How To Tell If Your Pug Is Too Thin

Sid was small when he was a puppy. At that time, I was wondering, is my Pug skinny?

He loves to eat, the piggy way. But he is very thin, I can even see his ribs when he’s a puppy. I quickly understood Sid was underweight and did a lot of research.

Finally, Sid is at a healthy weight now. 

Of course, you need to visit a vet first, but here’s a guide to help you better understand your Skinny Pugs beforehand. I am going to share:

  • Why is my Pug so skinny
  • How to help a Pug gain weight
  • What’s the ideal Pug size and weight

Let’s go!

Is My Pug Too Skinny?

According to American Kennel Club, the ideal adult Pug should weigh between 14 to 18  pounds with a 10-13 inches body, and of a muscular and rectangular shape. 

Of course, every Pug is different. Just because your Pug is slightly below or above the breed standard weight does not necessarily mean that your pet is unwell or in need of intervention. 

Just like us humans, Pugs range in size, shape, and weight. 

How Do You Know If Your Pug is Underweight?

As a general rule, it’s better to assess your Pug’s weight by appearance rather than the number on the scales. 

Feel your Pug’s ribs

If you can see your Pug’s ribs protruding through their coat when standing in a normal gait, then your Pug is underweight. 

Sometimes Pug parents worry that they can feel their Pug’s ribs when petting or snuggling up with them. Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily mean that your Pug is underweight. It is normal to be able to feel your Pug’s ribs when up close. The problem is when you can see them too! 

You can assess your Pug’s physical condition by running your hands over their sides. If you cannot feel their ribs at all then they are probably overweight. If you can feel too much rib then your Pug is likely underweight. 

This chart offers an easy-to-follow guide for assessing your Pug. 

Image from Pinterest

Look at Pugs’ waist line

Another top tip that can help you determine whether your Pug is at a healthy weight is to look at their waistline. 

In general, Pugs should not have a very obvious waistline like, say, a greyhound. 

Your Pug may have a slight indent at the waist (and that is completely normal) but anything more than that and it’s a clear sign that your Pug needs to put on some pounds. 

Feel your Pug’s spine

Once you’ve assessed your Pug’s ribs, check their spine. You can do this in much the same way by running your hands gently along the back, over the spine. You should be able to feel the spinal bone but it should not protrude dramatically. 

There should be some flesh between the spinal cord and the skin. If you cannot feel the spinal cord at all then your Pug is probably overweight. If it protrudes too much (with little to no cushioning) then your Pug is likely underweight. 

Why is My Pug So Skinny? 

There are many reasons that your Pug might become too skinny. Malnourished or suffering from neglect, health problems can lead to skinny Pugs and underweight Pugs. 

You should book an appointment with a trusted veterinarian right away. They will be able to assess your precious Pug and determine what is causing their weight loss.

Here are some common causes of Pug weight loss. 

1. Dental problems

It’s not uncommon for canine dental problems to result in weight loss. If your Pug is experiencing pain in their teeth, mouth, or gums (eg. from an abscess) then eating will become uncomfortable for them. 

Naturally, to avoid this pain and discomfort your Pug might abstain from food more than usual or entirely. If your Pug stops eating it’s really important to visit your vet to get to the bottom of the matter. 

2. Dietary insufficiencies

Sometimes Pugs and other dog breeds lose weight not because they stop eating, but because they aren’t getting enough food. Skinny Pugs might be malnourished. 

Now, the obvious question is are they eating enough? Clearly, if your Pug isn’t getting their required calories each day, they are going to lose weight quickly. 

A healthy adult Pug requires about 40 calories per pound of their body weight each day with meal times at regular intervals (free feeding is not recommended for Pugs). 

It’s important to note that malnutrition can also occur if your Pug is not getting sufficient nutrients. 

You might think that you are feeding your pet enough food, but if that food is not nutrient dense, or of very poor quality, then your pet could still become malnourished and lose weight. 

Sometimes all it takes to help your Pug get the energy they need is to switch out your dog food brand or switch to home prepared meals for your Pug. 

3. Medications

If your Pug is taking medications for an ailment or illness then this can impact their weight. Just like us humans, medications can play havoc with our bodies and present various side effects. 

If your Pug has been prescribed a new medication it’s wise to monitor their weight and eating habits for a while to ensure that they are getting the nutrients that they need. 

Some medications may cause a loss of appetite, others may cause a seemingly unexplained weight loss. 

If you notice your Pug losing weight on new medications, get back in touch with your vet for advice. They will be able to make suggestions as to how you can help your pooch put on some weight. 

4. Diabetes

Diabetic dogs often lose weight. This is because they cannot metabolize the sugars they get from their food due to a lack of insulin in the body. 

That means that even if your Pug is eating enough, they may not be metabolizing enough calories and will start to lose weight as a result. 

Luckily, with professional treatment from a veterinarian, diabetes can be treated with medications and your Pug should return to a healthy weight fairly quickly. 

5. Parasites

Parasites are nasty little blighters and a major cause of weight loss. If your Pug has ‘worms’ then they are likely to become underweight. 

It’s a horrible thought, but one that many pet owners have to deal with at some point. Animals can pick up parasites from contaminated food, water, faeces, or even soil. 

Parasites rob nutrients from your Pug’s food causing your pet to become underweight. 

If you suspect that your Pug has a parasite (or if your Pug is losing weight without obvious cause) it’s important to visit your vet who can prescribe an appropriate antiparasitic treatment plan. 

6. Underlying diseases 

Weight loss is a common symptom for many, many diseases including cancer. As such, any sign of persistent weight loss is cause for concern and should be checked out by a veterinarian. 

Other diseases that typically cause weight loss in dogs, include:

  • Behavioral issues (anorexia)
  • Pseudo Anorexia 
  • Malabsorptive disorders
  • Maldigestion disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Organ disease
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Excessive physical exercise 
  • Central nervous system disease 

7. Advanced age

Finally, it’s important to note that age also plays a part in a Pug’s weight. As dogs get older their dietary needs change. 

Oftentimes senior Pugs start to lose their appetite. If you notice this starting to happen, you may need to switch out their food to a mix that is specially formulated for senior Pugs. 

Should I be Worried if My Pug is Too Thin?

It’s natural to be concerned if your Pug looks underweight. But there’s no need to panic immediately. 

Consult your vet to make sure your Pugs are with no health issues.

There are a wide range of reasons why your pet might be a bit skinnier than usual and most of the time, the issue can be controlled with appropriate intervention. 

How Can I Help My Pug Gain Weight?

First thing’s first, it’s important to consult your vet about any weight-loss issue. But once you’ve got the all clear from the pros then it’s time to get a bit creative. 

1. Switch to Higher Protein Food

If your Pug is simply a bit underweight and in need of feeding up, then there are plenty of things you can do at home to try and increase their weight in a healthy way. 

We recommend starting with your Pug’s food. Switch out their food to a higher quality dog food or kibble. 

Select a diet that has higher calories or protein. Underweight Pugs need more calories to maintain their weight. Feeding Pugs a diet higher in fat and protein, you will see them gain weight steadily.

Higher quality dog food could bring more nutrients which also might help, so check the ingredients on the back of the packet when choosing dog food for your Pugs. 

2. New Feeding Routine

Another top tip is to change up your Pug’s eating routine. Here are some ideas to get your started. 

Switch larger meals for small meals throughout the day  

Sometimes Pugs lose weight because they don’t enjoy eating larger meals. 

In these cases, it’s often better to give your Pug smaller meals, more often throughout the day along with some healthy snacks.

Another option is free feeding. 

Free feeding is the practice of leaving an unlimited amount of food in a bowl for your Pug to feed on as they please throughout the day. 

This gives your pet the opportunity to consume more calories. 

Ramp up the snacks

Another way to increase your Pug’s caloric intake is to supplement their diet with additional snacks. 

Try to include healthy, protein and fat-rich snacks. Choose snacks that are specifically designed for supplementary feeding and include them in addition to your Pug’s regular, balanced diet. 

If your Pug takes to this new routine but is still losing weight then your attention should turn towards their exercise regime. 


Alongside increased caloric intake, a regular but moderated exercise regime will help your Pug build muscle. 

Exercise too much, however, and your Pug might start to burn more calories than they are ingesting. It’s important to strike the perfect balance when it comes to diet and exercise. 

For Pugs, a short morning and evening walk of about 20 minutes total should suffice.

Switch out kibble for wet or fresh foods

If your Pug isn’t a big fan of their regular dried food then they might not be getting all the calories or nutrients that they need. 

Try switching their regular kibble out for a more appetizing wet food (but remember that these will usually need to be refrigerated). 

Another option is to make healthy meals from fresh food for your Pug.

My Pugs is Skinny: Final Words

If your Pug is too skinny, it’s important to visit your vet to get to the route cause.

Meanwhile, You can also help a thin Pug gain some weight at home. Most of the time, your Pugs are very healthy even though they are underweight.

Start implementing a plan to get your Pug back to a healthy weight.