My Puppy Is Not Growing Anymore
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When we adopt a purebred puppy, we can have some idea of what they will look like as an adult. With mixed-breed dogs, their fully developed form can be a little trickier to determine. Part of the joy of adopting a young dog is experiencing what type of animal they will grow up to be. Regardless if they are purebred, cross or a dog of unknown genetic origin, if there are any problems in their development, we should be worried.
For this reasons, AnimalWised looks at the reasons why my puppy is not growing anymore. We discuss whether there is any concern to begin with, as well as possible diseases which could be stunting their growth.
Has my dog stopped growing?
The first reason why a dog stops growing is that they have reached their full development size. We might have some expectations of what our dog will look like when they are older, but our expectations are not always met. For purebred dogs, we might think they should reach a certain size because we have seen other dogs of this breed. However, within a given breed standard, there is often some variability in size.
We might also have a certain breed of dog, but have not realized there are different types of said breed. For example, the different types of Poodle dog breed share many similarities, but are differentiated by size, among other factors. For example, we might expect the size of a medium-sized Poodle, but actually we have adopted a toy Poodle.
Mixed-breed dogs can be more difficult to determine their adult size. Many might appear to grow a lot early in their development, but then slow down as they become adult. For this reason, it is important to know when a is dog fully grown to determine whether they have stopped growing naturally or there is a problem which needs to be addressed.
Proper diet and nutrition are essential for any dog to remain healthy. However, during growth and development, they are particularly important. This is because good nutrition when a puppy will help influence their health status as an adult. An improper diet when young can slow down their growth significantly.
If a puppy does not receive the correct nutrients, they can suffer a retardation of their growth and development. Similarly, they can suffer from diseases if they have either too much or too little of a given nutrient. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy has been linked to having too much calcium in the dog's diet (especially with giant-sized dogs) and rickets in dogs is caused by a lack of vitamin D.
Nutritional deficiencies can stem from various mismanagement of the puppy's diet. Puppies will require feed designed specifically for young dogs, so feeding them the wrong kind can be problematic. Similarly, some guardians wish to provide a puppy a homemade diet, but may provide incorrect ingredients for their needs. For example, providing vegetarian diets for dogs can result in protein insufficiency.
Similarly, not every puppy has the same dietary requirements. If our dog has a food allergy or vitamin deficiency, they will need a tailored diet. The same will be the case if they have a medical condition such as kidney disease. This is why it is essential we take the puppy to a veterinarian for assessment as soon as possible. If we don't, the care we provide might not only stunt their growth, it could make them very ill.
How to avoid nutritional deficiencies in puppies
If we want to offer our puppy homemade recipes, we will need to take them to the veterinarian for information on their specific dietary needs. In general, we would advise against preparing homemade meals for dogs until they are fully matured, at least. You can purchase commercial feed which is specifically designed to meet all of the dog's nutritional needs.
We also need to avoid providing nutritional supplements, especially home remedies we think might be good for them. In many cases, we might be causing them more harm than good. If the puppy needs any dietary supplements, the veterinarian will determine what they are.
If your puppy is receiving the right food and has good nutrition, we need to look at some other reasons they are not growing anymore. Genetic problems often cannot be determined with newborn puppies. It is only when they start to develop we see issues arise, especially if they are not growing as fast as their littermates. Congenital hypothyroidism is one such genetic issue which can result in the following:
- Stunted growth
- Lack of appetite
- Poor coat condition
- Improper bone development
At first we might see poor coordination or lethargy as traits common to all puppies. However, as they develop, we should notice these symptoms are more pronounced than with other dogs. Our article on why your dog cannot stand up or walk properly will help explain other possible reasons for poor coordination.
A complete analysis will be carried out to determine the production of thyroid hormones and those that force the thyroid to produce hormones (TSH and TRH). Blood counts, urinalysis and other tests will confirm the diagnosis with our veterinarian.
The only treatment is the administration of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) every 12 hours. This will need to continue for the duration of the dog's life. Periodic reviews are essential, in order to adjust the dosage, as well as complete analytics to control possible metabolic alterations
As with all types of dwarfism, pituitary dwarfism prevents the dog from growing to their full size. Although experienced veterinarians should be aware of the condition, it is fortunately relatively rare. It is a congenital disease which causes a deficiency in the growth hormone somatotropin which is produced in the pituitary glands.
Since it is a hereditary condition, pituitary dwarfism is more prevalent in certain breeds. The German Shepherd is the breed most affected than any other and is a disease common to the breed. The Weimaraner and Spitz-type dog breeds can also be affected, but to a lesser extent.
After two months we will begin to notice that our dog does not develop like other puppies. As time passes, we find certain characteristics of this disease:
- Puppy fur reamains
- Pyodermas (skin infections)
- Smaller, but proportioned body
- Testicles atrophy
- Fontanelle remains open for longer
- Teething lasts for a long time
If we can not remedy the growth hormone deficiency and the lack of other pituitary hormones will appear (hypothyroidism). This will occur after one or two years of age. Most puppies with pituitary dwarfism develop hypothyroidism after this period of time. Hypothyroidism results in inactivity, loss of appetite, lethargy and other symptoms. They are also at greater risk of obesity.
Initial suspicion should occur when the puppy receives their regular veterinary checkups. A blood test will be carried out to determine the IGF-I (it is the Insulin-like Growth Factor). This is something the liver synthesizes by direct order of the hormone growth or somatotropin. It is easier to detect this than the hormone itself.
There is no curative treatment and the life expectancy of these dogs is less than healthy dogs. They can have a good quality of life for some time if they are treated. Pituitary dwarfism can be managed with:
- Growth hormone (human or bovine): it is difficult to acquire and expensive, but applied 3 times a week for a few months can achieve good results.
- Medroxyprogesterone or proligestone: progesterone hormone analogs. Before starting to deal with any sex hormone, it is necessary to castrate both males and females. Quite used, especially the first one.
- Thyroxine: as dogs can develop hypothyroidism after a couple of years, thyroid function is usually measured every few months. When its decreases in laboratory tests, they will be medicated for life.
Congenital heart defects
Sometimes inadequate blood flow can cause growth problems in puppies. It is common to observe in large litters that an individual grows less than the rest and has a heart murmur during auscultation. This can be due to many different heart problems, including a valve stenosis. This is when the heart valve does not open correctly so the heart cannot pump as much blood to the rest of the body.
Other problems include patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a persistent opening of two major blood vessels in the heart. This is present in the fetus before birth. Because of this venous and arterial blood (oxygenated and non-oxygenated) mixes. Nothing happens to the fetus, since the mother is responsible for providing oxygen. However, if they do not atrophy before birth, it can result in:
- Lack of growth
- Lack of appetite
- Head extension to breather easier
- Total exercise intolerance
Our article on the 5 symptoms of congestive heart failure in dogs can also reveal more about canine heart disease.
Diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in puppies
Auscultation (listening to the heart) should reveal the presence of this problem, especially when listening to the upper part. The veterinarian will also monitor the other symptoms such as exercise intolerance and weakness. Certain breeds are more susceptible to this type of canine heart disease, including the Maltese, Pomeranian, German shepherd and others. An ultrasound will likely be necessary to confirm the suspicion.
The PDA is easy to resolve through a relatively simple surgery, although it does involve opening the thorax. The tube is ligated and the heart will begin to work normally. It requires a somewhat painful postoperative period, but the dog can complete their normal development once recovered. Prognosis will depend on the degree to which it is detected and on the previous damage that the heart has suffered before being operated on.
A valve stenosis (Aortic, Pulmonary, etc.), is something much more complicated. Veterinary heart valve surgery is not as developed as in humans.
There are a large number of metabolic or structural problems that can lead our puppy to stop growing. here we provide a brief summary of some of them:
- Hepatic disorders: the liver is the organism's purifier and its malfunction due to congenital or acquired problems can lead to abnormal growth.
- Intestinal problems: calcium is absorbed at the intestinal level. Its metabolism is directly related to vitamin D levels. Any failure in the enterocytes (cells of the intestine) can alter the absorption of calcium.
- Kidney problems: all calcium and phosphorus homeostasis depends on proper kidney function.
- Diabetes mellitus: Insufficient insulin production from birth can cause abnormal growth.
Since poor diet is also related to improper growth, we need to ensure the dog has appropriate food from as early as possible. This is one reason why removing them from their mother too early can be detrimental to their development. Check out our article on diet for a prematurely weaned puppy to learn more.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Puppy Is Not Growing Anymore, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.