5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

Have you noticed that your Boston’s ribs are sticking out excessively? If so, your Boston may be too skinny.

This article will explore how to tell if your Boston is too skinny and what to do if your Boston is underweight.

5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

Underweight Boston Terrier: Signs, Causes, and Treatment

The majority of pets are either ideal weight or overweight. Occasionally, a pet can be underweight.

An underweight pet may have protruding ribs, hip bones, and very little muscle or fat.

If you think your pet is underweight, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine if your pet is in fact underweight and rule out any underlying medical conditions.

5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

How Do You Know If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny?

There are several steps that you can take to determine if your Boston is too skinny. You can start by asking your veterinarian if your Boston is too skinny and looking for the signs that your Boston is too thin.

1. Ask A Veterinarian

The best way to determine if your Boston Terrier is too skinny is by asking your veterinarian.

Many times owners believe their pet to be too skinny when in fact they are a healthy weight. Because many pets are overweight or obese, it can be easy to develop a distorted view of what is considered a healthy weight.

Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is indeed too skinny and what should be done about it. 9 out of 10 times when a pet owner asks me if their pet is too skinny, they are actually a perfect weight.

2. Protruding Rib Bones

The first thing you may notice in a pet that is too skinny is protruding rib bones. It is normal to be able to see your Boston’s ribs bones slightly, but if they are excessively protruding, this may be a sign that your dog is underweight.

When you run your hands over the ribs of a healthy weight Boston Terrier, you should be able to feel the rib bones without pushing too hard. If your Boston is too skinny, when you run your fingers along their side, your fingers will fall into large dips between the ribs.

3. Protruding Hip Bones

Normally, the hip bones should be slightly visible on your Boston. If your Boston Terrier is too skinny, the hip bones will become very prominent and you will be able to see them when standing several feet away.

4. No Discernable Body Fat

Boston Terriers at an ideal weight should have a very small amount of fat on their body. If you are unable to find any fat, this may be a sign that your Boston Terrier is underweight.

5. Loss Of Muscle Mass

If the body has run out of fat to burn, it will often turn to the muscles next. Bostons that are too skinny may begin to lose muscle mass. 

Pay attention to the definition in your Boston’s muscles. If you start to notice that the muscles in the legs or arms are becoming smaller, this might be a sign that your Boston Terrier is too skinny.

5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

Should You Be Able To See Your Dog’s Ribs?

If your dog’s ribs are only slightly showing, this can be normal. Some dogs that are very athletic and fit may have ribs that show slightly on their sides. If the ribs appear very prominent, then your dog is likely underweight.

Causes For Underweight Boston Terriers

There are many different reasons why a Boston Terrier may be too skinny. Some Bostons are just picky eaters while other Bostons that are too skinny may have a major medical problem.

1. Poor Nutrition

If your Boston is not getting enough calories in their diet, this may be causing them to be too thin. Ask your veterinarian how many calories your dog should be eating and check your pet food to determine how many calories are in each cup or can of dog food.

If your pet is not receiving proper nutrition, they may be prone to becoming too thin. Many homemade diets may not be complete and balanced and can lead to weight loss and muscle loss.

Read This Boston Terrier Society ArticleChoosing The Right Food For Your Boston (A Vet’s Perspective)

2. Dental Disease

Dental disease can result in painful teeth and gums which may make it uncomfortable for your Boston to eat. When eating becomes painful, pets may not want to eat as much and start to lose weight.

Signs that your Boston may have dental disease include:

  • Foul Breath
  • Loose Teeth
  • Red and Inflamed Gums
  • Heavy Tartar
  • Dropping Food While Eating
  • Reluctance to Chew

3. Health Conditions

Many different health conditions can cause a Boston Terrier to be too skinny. Your veterinarian must rule out medical conditions if your Boston continues to lose weight or remains skinny.

Certain health conditions that cause weight loss may be easily treatable while others may not be. Here are a few examples of health conditions in Boston Terriers that can cause your pet to be too skinny:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Read This Boston Terrier Society Article10 Common Boston Terrier Health Issues

5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

4. Age

As Bostons age, it is not uncommon for them to lose a little bit of fat and muscle mass. Senior dogs may not have as large of an appetite which can lead to weight loss.

Because health problems are more common in older Boston Terriers, anytime you notice weight loss in an older pet, you should contact your veterinarian right away to ensure there is not an underlying health condition causing an issue.

Read This Boston Terrier Society Article – How Old Is Your Boston Terrier In Human Years

Watch This Video – Caring For Senior Boston Terriers

In the YouTube video below veterinarian Dr. Tarantino talks about how to properly care for a senior (older) Boston Terrier. If your Boston is 7 years or older you should watch this interview.

Interview With Veterinarian – Caring For Older Boston Terriers

What Does It Mean When Your Boston Terrier Is Really Skinny?

If your dog is extremely skinny, it could mean they are not getting proper nutrition or there is an underlying health condition.

Many extremely skinny dogs have some underlying medical illness that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian. Certain medical conditions like intestinal parasites may have a very easy fix.

Why Is My Boston Terrier So Skinny, But He Eats?

There are a few reasons why your Boston Terrier could be extremely skinny but still eating. Improper nutrition including incorrect food or not enough calories can cause a Boston to be skinny but still have a good appetite

Also, certain medical conditions may cause a ravenous appetite in combination with weight loss like,

  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Intestinal Parasites
  • And Other Intestinal Diseases 

The medical conditions above may result in improper absorption of nutrients in the body.

The only way to truly determine the underlying cause of your Boston being skinny is to consult with your veterinarian. They may recommend running a few tests to look for some of these common medical conditions.

What Can I Do To Help My Boston Terrier Gain Weight?

If it has been determined that your Boston Terrier is truly underweight, a good place to start is by consulting with your veterinarian.

1. Consult With a Veterinarian

As stated previously, many Bostons that are thought to be underweight are actually a very healthy weight. There may not be any need to try and fatten up your Boston.

Your veterinarian will help you determine if your Boston is truly underweight or if they are just athletic and fit.

If your veterinarian determines that your Boston is too skinny, they can also help you determine if there are any underlying medical conditions.

2. Treat Underlying Medical Conditions

Underlying medical conditions like intestinal parasites and dental disease should first be addressed by your veterinarian.

Many of these medical conditions have an easy fix that may help your Boston quickly regain the weight.

3. Increase Calorie Consumption

If your veterinarian has determined that your Boston is truly underweight with no underlying medical conditions, you should then try and increase your pet’s calorie consumption.

The first step would be to increase the amount of food that you are feeding your Boston every day. Weigh them weekly to track your progress.

5 Things To Do If Your Boston Terrier Is Too Skinny

4. Try A New Dog Food

Make sure you are feeding high-quality pet food from a reputable company such as Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Iams, or Purina Pro Plan.

You may consider opting for a performance food that has a higher calorie count per cup. Here are a few examples of high-calorie dog food that may help your Boston gain weight, click on each one to see them on Amazon.

5. Exercise

As you are trying to fatten up your skinny Boston Terrier, don’t forget that it is important to maintain a regular exercise schedule.

Taking your Boston for a daily walk and playing fetch outside in the yard can be a great way to keep your Boston active.


Many times dogs that are thought to be underweight are actually a perfect and healthy weight.

If you suspect your Boston is underweight or too skinny, I highly recommend speaking with a veterinarian.

If your veterinarian determines that your Boston is truly underweight, they may recommend screening for underlying health conditions.

To help your Boston gain weight, try increasing the amount of food you feed them or switch to higher-calorie dog food.


Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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