Why does not my dog ​​grow?

When the puppy arrives at our house, it is normal for us to ask ourselves about some basic issues, especially if it is our first dog. Issues such as how long it will take to learn to pee in the right place or how long it will take to reach your adult size are the most common in the veterinary clinic.

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Sometimes we notice some difference in the growth of our dog compared to the others and we ask “Why does not my dog ​​grow?” In this article by YourCatCareguide, we will explain some of the diseases that may be preventing your dog from developing normally.

You might also be interested in: How to know if the dog will grow big?

Feeding errors

In this field, we include all the diseases that we ourselves provoke unknowingly, which can lead to delays in the growth of the puppy.

If you want to offer a homemade diet to your puppy, you risk not calculating the needs of all the nutrients properly (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids …) and, at a critical stage, as the first months of life, this can lead to irrecoverable changes.

The most common is the delay in growth , along with the hypertrophic osteoarthritis that calcium supplements cause. Rickitis, commonly associated with a lack of calcium and phosphorus, can be thought of as a lack of vitamin D (without adequate calcium metabolism).

Regardless of our goodwill, we must realize that making food with love and affection is not enough. Some nutrients prevent the absorption of others and not always the foods with more proteins are beneficial (everything depends on the biological value of this protein and the kidney ends up paying the excesses). Sometimes the problem lies in the proper relationship of trace elements.

How to avoid nutritional deficiencies in puppies?

If we want to offer a home diet to our puppy, it is fundamental to seek the assistance of a veterinary nutritionist who will elaborate a specific diet and suitable for our dog, avoiding the risks to health of him previously mentioned. Nevertheless, the ideal is to offer dog specific ration that contains the information that it is nutritionally complete.

We must avoid offering nutritional supplements, since all rations of medium-high quality have a suitable calcium-phosphorus ratio, as well as digestible protein, percentage of lipids, unsaturated fatty acids, etc.

Are you wondering about a dog supplement you grow? The puppy will not grow bigger, nor better, by taking extra supplements. Obviously they will be needed if we choose home diets, but avoid using them at this critical time for many advantages they may offer in the future. If you would like to know if your dog will grow big , read our article on this topic.

At least for the first 12-18 months of life, depending on the type of dog breed, we should opt for a quality commercial diet , which includes detailed daily amount to eat and how to distribute.

Congenital hypothyroidism

If the puppy suffers from congenital hypothyroidism it means that it was born with an inability to produce sufficient thyroid hormones. This leads to obvious changes:

  • Delayed growth.
  • Apathy, loss of appetite, lethargy …
  • A little active and awkward dog.
  • By the little bright and sometimes alopecia (lack of hair in certain areas)
  • Problems of ossification in some parts of bones.

At first we think that his lack of coordination of movements and constant drowsiness is due to the fact of being a cub. Over time, it becomes more evident. If you know his siblings from the same litter, you may notice that after a few months they have a normal development while yours is still small and inactive.


complete analysis , which determines the production of thyroid hormones and the production of hormones such as TSH and TRH, guide the veterinarian to the pathology.


The best option is thyroid hormone (thyroxine) administration every 12 hours. Regular visits to the veterinarian are key to adjusting the dose, as well as to make complete analyzes to control for possible metabolic changes.

Nanismo hipofisário

Fortunately, it is rare, although almost all veterinarians with more than a decade of experience have had one of these cases on hand. It is a congenital growth hormone deficiency(somatotrophin), which is produced at the level of the pituitary gland. Hence its vulgar name “pituitary dwarfism”.

As indicated by its congenital condition, it is a hereditary alteration, characteristic of certain breeds and the German shepherd is undoubtedly the most affected. On a much smaller scale, cases of spitz and weimaraner have been described .

Clinical signs

From the two months we started to notice that our dog does not develop like the others. As time passes, we find certain characteristics of this disease :

  • Persistence of puppy coat and, later, alopecia.
  • Pyoderma, skin infections.
  • Body proportions remain (they are like an adult, but small).
  • The gonads atrophy (the testicles, in males, are poorly developed).
  • The fontanelles, that is, union between the bones of the skull, remain much more open time.
  • Puppy teething remains for a long time, there is a very evident delay in the change to the final denture.

If we do not act in time, at the end of some variable time, the effects of growth hormone deficiency and lack of other pituitary hormones (hypothyroidism) will appear , something that often happens after one or two years. Thus, virtually all who suffer from pituitary dwarfism develop hypothyroidism at the end of this time.

  • Hypothyroidism: inactivity, loss of appetite, lethargy …
  • Renal changes: damage caused due to the thyroid hormone thyroxine.


The clinical evolution of our dog’s periodic visits will lead to the suspicion of the veterinarian, who will perform a blood test for IGF-I ( Insulin-like Growth Factor ), ie something that the liver synthesizes by direct order of growth hormone or somatotrophin. It is easier to detect this factor than the hormone itself and thus determine its absence. However, other changes, such as metabolic or poorly controlled, should be discarded prior to treatment.


There is no exclusive option and the life expectancy of these dogs is lower than that of a normal dog, but they can still live a few years with a good quality of life if they are properly treated.

  • Growth hormone (human or bovine). It is expensive and complicated to acquire but applied 3 times a week for a few months can yield good results.
  • Medroxyprogesterone or proligestone: Analogues of the hormone progesterone. Before you start dealing with any sex hormone, it is necessary to castrate both males and females. They are widely used, especially the first.
  • Thyroxine: As everyone develops hypothyroidism after a couple of years, it is customary to measure thyroid function frequently and, when noticing decreases in the analyzes, medicate for life.

Heart problems

Sometimes inadequate blood flow can cause growth delays. It is common to see in numerous litters some individual who grows less than others and detect a heart murmur during auscultation.

It can be a valve stenosis (it does not open properly), which means that the blood ejected from the heart to the organs is not the same. Clinical signs are an inactive, slow-growing dog. It is a congenital disease, which is why the parents of this puppy should stop reproducing, as well as the siblings of that litter.

Other times, we have a persistent ductus arteriosus , a conduit that is present in the fetus before birth, through which venous and arterial blood (oxygenated and non-oxygenated) is mixed. In the fetus nothing happens, since the mother is responsible for supplying oxygen to it, but if it does not atrophy before birth as it should, the consequences will be:

  • A puppy that does not grow, with lack of appetite.
  • Weakness, tachypnea.
  • Head position extended to try to breathe better.
  • Collapse, total intolerance to exercise.

Diagnosis of ductus arteriosus

To listen to a continuous murmur at the base of the heart (upper area) in a puppy that does not grow along with weakness and intolerance to exercise usually indicates this pathology. If, moreover, it is a susceptible breed ( Maltese , Pomeranian , German Shepherd , etc. ), they are strong indications of this disease. It would be necessary to perform x – ray, electrocardiogram and possibly ultrasound.


The duct is easy to resolve through relatively simple surgery , but involves opening the chest. Once the duct is connected, the heart will begin working normally. The postoperative is painful but the puppy can continue its development normally and grow like any adult of its breed. It all depends on the state he is in when the disease is detected and the previous damage that the heart has suffered before the intervention.

A valve stenosis (aortic, pulmonary, etc.) is much more complicated and heart valve surgery is not as well developed as in humans.

Other pathologies

There are a lot of metabolic or structural problems with which our puppy can be born and that can lead to a delay in its growth. We summarize some of them:

  • Liver disorders: The liver is the purifier of the organism and its malfunction due to congenital or acquired problems can give rise to an abnormal growth.
  • Intestinal problems : Calcium is absorbed at the intestinal level and its metabolism is directly related to vitamin D levels. Any failure of enterocytes (intestinal cells) can alter the absorption of calcium.
  • Kidney problems : All homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus depends on correct kidney function.
  • Diabetes mellitus : Insufficient production and insulin at birth can cause abnormal growth.

This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read the similar articles in Why does not my dog ​​grow? , we recommend that you enter our section on Other health problems .

Emily Harris

Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-p I am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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