We have a "princess type" shih tzu (the small type, but not teacup type, which are the smallest), and she's about 4+ months old by now.

To cut the story short, we think we've gotten ill advice on how to feed our puppy and we think we've been giving her way too little food since we got her. (Something like 2 tablespoons of kibbles per meal 2 x day)

We do give her multi vitamins 2x / day as well, and treats every now and then.

Only this week (at 4 months) did we start to increase it to about a small cup /meal x2 day since she seems bigger now (thinking that the bigger she is the more food she'll be needing).

We are receiving feedback from friends that our puppy seems skinny (underneath that fluffy hair of hers) and they could feel her ribs.

I researched on Google and I was horrified to read that growing puppies need a lot of food to "properly develop", up to about 4 months, and even some articles saying to let puppy eat till she is full!! (watching out for those overfeeding of course.)

So this has got me worried.

Should I be worried? She seems healthy and happy and playful and has a strong appetite.

So now I'm thinking about increasing her food a bit more than required to kind of make up for it.

She's about 5 lbs now.

Should we be feeding her more? Are there other things we should be doing?

  • What are the feeding recommendations your vet gave you? Dec 8, 2014 at 11:02
  • Just saw the vet for the first time today, she says my puppy was of normal weight. that's a relief. but i'm still concerned about "development" issues since i guess she was (if ever) malnutrition for 2 months??/ :( Vet told me just follow the instructions on the packaging (on this pet food my pup's in now = Vitality) .. i don't remember anymore the first pet food i used (1st two months with her) and i certainly didnt read the label on that one, i just went w/ a suggestion from the pet shop's staff (2tbsp x 2/day)
    – BrownChiLD
    Dec 8, 2014 at 13:06
  • 1
    Pictures might help people tell what kind of weight she's at right now, especially in relation to her height. It's normal to feel ribs on many mammals (You should be able to feel ribs on humans), The issue is how defined the ribs are. Here's a pretty decent chart for dog weights.
    – Spidercat
    Dec 8, 2014 at 22:44
  • In general, don't worry about "underfeeding". It's less about the "puppy doesn't get enough food". The more important aspect is getting the right mix of nutrients. That's what malnutrition actually means. If the puppy isn't hungry, there shouldn't be any problem regarding the amount of food (especially if your vet confirms that). It might grow a bit slower, but that's still better than overfeeding (which might cause a too fast growth which could actually damage joints due to overweight - even if you don't see it).
    – Mario
    Dec 20, 2014 at 8:25
  • Is your dog food actually "puppy food" for puppies or is it just normal "dog food" for dogs ?
    – rlb.usa
    Jul 14, 2015 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


The problem with serving the food based on the weight of the dog is that logically, it will be wrong if the dog is skinny and weights less than it should.(1)

For puppies up to 9-12 months, you should always leave them water available at all time and feed them at least feed 3 times a day (2); if the puppy is underweight, try leaving the food available at all time and use real puppy food that has higher content of proteins. It's a bit harder to train them to be clean but once this is done, your dog should simply be able to eat when hungry.

It's hard to know if a dog is hungry, they don't talk and might not show obvious signs of hunger! But if you see the dog is too skinny, you should try giving more food; her refusal to eat will give you clues about other health issues that might be the real problem and that need to be taken care of.(2)

Personally, I let food available at all time even for my adult dogs and they don't get obese with good exercise; but they also have no reasons to develop eating disorders. I've never seen an obese puppy in my entire life, and as for humans, I simply don't agree with the strict "2-3 times a day" feeding schedule; even for humans that kind of diet schedule is controversial.

To my knowledge and from dog psychology I've read, over-eating habits with dogs are similar to humans eating disorders; this is controversial since there's still debates about animals having "emotions" but no one can deny there are behaviors that can easily be observed and analyzed. In fact I think underfeeding a puppy might create these bad habits; I suspect when food is easily available, there's less risk they develop that kind of fixation. Studies have been done showing this happens to humans who grew up in very poor households or the ones little access to basic resources (eg. strict control of food.) (3)

Supporting references as requested:

(1) Logic

(2) http://www.petmd.com/dog/puppycenter/nutrition/evr_dg_the_importance_of_proper_nutrition_for_puppies

(3) "Evidence exists that malnutrition leads to mood disturbances and that binge eating is frequently followed by intense negative emotion. On the other hand, depressive and anxious moods affect the awareness of hunger and fullness, and can interfere with eating. [...]Interestingly, many families of eating-disordered patients appear preoccupied with food and gourmet cooking, weight and dieting, thus drawing attention to food as representing more than nutrition. [...]

  • 1
    These suggested quantities are a bit dangerous for very small breeds if there's a mistake in measurements; not precise with the small variations. Malnutrition and the stress it causes can also start a domino effect of issues because the immune system becomes too weak. For example, small hair loss ends up being a full blown demodectic mange problem. Then vets often blame kennels or genetic, prescribe more med... add more stress. Very hard to reverse when the dog can't fight it back and then this can lead to euthanasia. It's sad because it's so easy to avoid all this and fix at early stage!
    – go-junta
    Aug 13, 2015 at 9:41

Be sure to go with healthy brands. Don't use supermarket brands. And yes as the other person said be sure to leave food at all times.

  • One thing to remember is that dogs are scavengers by nature
    – Maximin
    Jun 13, 2015 at 3:46
  • Not sure that a supermarket brand is necessarily better or worse then a brand that claims to be "healthy" brand example Sep 30, 2015 at 10:20

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