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My Puppy Isn’t Growing

My Puppy Isn’t Growing

With so many different dog breeds in the world, it’s not surprising that puppies grow at different rates. In general, small-breed dogs mature more quickly than larger breeds.

For example, a Chihuahua may reach adult size at 9 months of age and typically finish maturing at 12 months of age. A Great Dane, on the other hand, may not reach adult size until 12 to 18 months of age.

At each veterinary visit, your puppy will have its weight recorded and the doctor will determine if the growth rate is normal or occurring at a slower-than-average rate. If you think your puppy’s rate of growth rate has slowed down, read on to learn what might be the cause.


Nutrition is a relatively uncommon cause for a decrease in your puppy’s growth if you’re feeding a high quality diet. However, if you have concerns, please visit our Nutrition section and follow the key tips below:

  • Be sure to choose a puppy formulation that is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). To obtain this certification, the diet must have passed rigorous testing and be deemed suitable for the advertised stage of growth. For more information on what to look for when reading labels, please read our article on common pet food ingredients and what they mean to your pet’s diet. 
  • It’s important to feed a complete and balanced diet that is appropriate for your puppy. It should be based on your puppy’s age, sex, size and breed. An adult diet may contain excessive or deficient quantities of vitamins and minerals, resulting in long-term health problems for your puppy.

Portosytemic/liver shunt(s)

This occurs when a blood vessel carries blood around the liver instead of carrying blood through the liver. The blood is carried to other parts of the body before it can be filtered by the liver, whose job is to cleanse the blood of toxins and bacteria. If the blood never goes through the liver because of the shunt, this could cause some serious health problems for your dog. If a puppy has a shunt, chances are the shunt has been present since birth.

  • There are many other symptoms associated with this condition but one frequent finding is the failure to grow or gain weight.
  • This is common in small breed dogs such as the Yorkshire Terrier but can also occur in large-breed dogs.

Endoparasites (internal)

Worms such as roundworms can use up nutrients from your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and result in decreased growth (in addition to many other things). It's very important to consult your veterinarian regarding the best type of deworming product and deworming schedule for your dog. Learn more in our Parasite Control section.

Understanding the different stages of your puppy's development can also be help you gauge your dog's progress. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about these distinct phases.

Did you know?

All Banfield Optimum Wellness Plans come with unlimited office visits, so you never have to hesitate when it comes to a question about your puppy’s health. Learn more about other plan benefits and find the right wellness plan for your puppy today.