This Updated Guide lists all of the Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain.
Canine obesity is a hot topic in dog circles. But today, I want to talk about a problem that may not be as common but is equally as alarming.
We are going to talk about underweight dogs and how you can nurture them back to their normal weight through a healthy diet.
It isn’t just rescued dogs or adopted dogs that can be underweight. It can be any dog living in a perfectly comfortable home, eating typical dog food. There can be many reasons why your dog isn’t gaining weight and are maybe even losing it.
Maybe your dog is too picky or doesn’t have a good appetite. Perhaps there is an underlying health issue that isn’t allowing your dog to get the most out of its meal.
While your dog needs medical attention to diagnose the exact reason, a premium dog food with the right balance of protein and fat can make a huge difference.
However, not every product claiming to be high-calorie gets the balance right. It takes a bit of research to find that perfect balance that can ensure a healthy weight gain without risks.
Guess what! I have done that research, so you don’t have to. So, here is my list of the best high-calorie dog foods for weight gain.
The Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
1. Crave — Real Chicken Protein Grain-Free Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Split Peas, 5. Pork Meal
Crave with Proteins Chicken recipe brings plenty of animal-based proteins for your underweight pooch. You get proteins from real chicken, chicken meal, and pork meal. Not to mention, there are protein-rich vegetables such as peas and beet to add an extra boost of healthy proteins for your baby.
With nearly 34 percent protein and 17 percent fat, crave is quite close to the ancestral diet of your buddy. It smells great and tastes even better, which makes it a perfect choice for picky eaters. Also, it is a grain-free option, preferable for dogs with sensitive digestion. What I like the most about this particular dog food is that it works best for all breeds, big or small.
2. Purina—Pro Plan 30/20 Sport High Protein
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Corn Gluten Meal, 3. Brewer’s Rice, 4. Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, 5. Poultry By-Product Meal
A 30/20 formula is what vets would generally recommend for dogs that need to gain some weight quickly. Purina Pro Plan Sport is one of my personal favorites when it comes to high-energy high-calorie formulas. It has real chicken as the first ingredient, followed by corn gluten, brewer’s rice, and animal fat. There is no way any dog can’t gain a few good pounds within a few days on this diet.
Aside from weight, Pro Plan Sports is formulated to increase strength and endurance. That makes it an ideal formula for a dog recovering from sickness. It also has plenty of antioxidants to help your dog’s immune system recover and get stronger.
3. Earthborn — Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Herring Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Canola Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), 4. Pea Protein, 5. Tapioca
Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-free is a good option for underweight dogs that prefer seafood over poultry and red meat. This grain-free formula is high in protein and is made from herring meal, which makes it perfect for sensitive tummies.
Aside from fish protein, this formula is also rich in vegetable-based proteins from sources such as peas. Not to mention, this is indeed a holistic formula that contains compounds such as L-carnitine and glucosamine. So, with this one, you can rest assured that you’re feeding your pet a complete meal that will take care of its nose to tail health.
4. Nature’s Variety—Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Cage-Free Duck Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Duck, 2. Chicken, 3. Chicken Eggs, 4. Tapioca, 5. Ground Flaxseed
If you have a picky eater who loves poultry but doesn’t gain pounds easily, Instinct Ultimate Protein by Nature’s Variety is a godsend. This formula is made from cage-free duck and real chicken meat and contains around 47 percent protein and 17 percent fat, which is a very high protein-to-fat ratio.
This raw recipe promises to provide your pup with all the essential nutrients from premium ingredients. Aside from that, there are ingredients to aid in the absorption of those nutrients. This way, you know that your baby is getting the most out of every meal.
5. Bully Max — High Performance Super Premium Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken meal, 2. Brown rice, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 5. Ground Sorghum
There is a reason Bully Max High Performance is one of the Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain lists. It is not your usual dog food. This high-protein high-fat formula is specifically created for dogs who are hard gainers. Your baby gets protein from chicken meal that has nearly 300 more protein calories than chicken meat. Plus, there is brown rice and chicken fat combo to help your furry friend get a little fluffy in no time.
It is good for malnourished rescue dogs and also for dogs recovering from an illness. While it has grains, they are easy on the stomach and won’t cause any digestion issues.
6. Ziwi Peak — New Zealand Beef Recipe Canned Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Water, 3. Beef Lung, 4. Beef Kidney, 5. Beef Tripe
Canned food is an excellent option for picky eaters, and may I add, picky drinkers. Canned food smells and tastes closest to the real thing. It is why it can tempt the most selective of pooches.
This recipe is loaded with beef proteins. Added nutrition comes from delicious organ meat from beef lung, kidney, and tripe. Not to mention, it is a grain-free recipe, which is good for dogs who have food aversion due to digestive issues.
7. Merrick — Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Beef, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Salmon Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Potatoes
Another beef-based recipe loaded with proteins, Merrick Backcountry, is a raw option for your underweight buddy. I highly recommend it for dogs who aren’t just skinny but are also suffering from malnutrition.
Other than a healthy balance of good fats and protein, this recipe is also rich in carbohydrates. There are freeze-dried pieces of raw beef along with dried fruits and vegetables. The freeze-dried kibble smells and tastes great, so you don’t have to worry about your picky pal either.
These were my top picks, but there are more.
I am sure you have a lot of questions on your mind regarding your furbaby and its weight. So, before we proceed, I’ll try to answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding weight loss and malnutrition in dogs.
What can I feed my dog for weight gain?
Any dog food with more than 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat will help your dog maintain a healthy weight. However, if your dog is thinner than it should be, then you can introduce a high-calorie food with more meat proteins. Eggs can also help your baby gain weight.
How can I tell my dog is underweight?
American Animal Hospital Association has weight guidelines for different breeds of dogs. It varied from breed to breed. It is okay if you can feel your dog’s ribs when you touch the belly, but if your dog’s gut is constantly caved in even after a meal, that is a clear sign.
Can grains help my dog gain weight?
Grains are rich in carbs, and some grains like rice can help your dog gain weight. However, grains are also known allergens, and substandard foods use grain by-products as fillers. Alternative carbs such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are much better for healthy weight management.
Why is my dog losing weight?
There can be many reasons for a dog’s weight loss. See if your pet is eating as much as it should. If your dog is getting enough calories according to its breed and life stage, then the weight loss could be because of underlying disease causing malnutrition. You must visit a vet in that case.
Which meat can help my dog gain weight?
If you want your dog to gain weight, then red meat is your best option. While all forms of proteins are good, fish and seafood may not help to gain weight. You can also find a dog food with chicken and chicken fat to add some healthy calories for your dog.
Ideally, a grown dog should eat two to three times a day. It is a good idea to add another meal to encourage weight gain. Go for a high protein, high-fat dog food with a healthy amount of carbs in it. If your dog doesn’t eat that extra meal, you can opt for a healthier treat instead.
Can fat help my dog gain weight?
Fat is good for dogs, but most of it will convert into energy, especially for an active dog. Proteins and carbs can play a vital role in helping your dog gain a healthy weight without risking its health. However, a balance of proteins and fats is essential for overall well being.
How can I increase my dog’s appetite?
First of all, you need to find out why your dog doesn’t have a good appetite. Some dogs are picky by nature, but a sudden loss of appetite can be an indicator of an underlying disease. Indigestion, allergies, and stomach related issues are a common cause of appetite loss. Visit a vet to rule out medical reasons. Switch to a better-tasting premium dog food.
Is a raw food diet good for weight gain?
Raw dog food is generally high in protein, and it can help your dog gain healthy muscle mass. However, it can speed up their metabolic rate, and skinny dogs may not gain weight as fast as you want. You can add macronutrients such as fats and carbs to their diet to improve weight.
Do dogs lose weight with age?
Dogs often lose weight as they age primarily because of muscle loss, which is part of the aging process. However, if you feel your dog is losing more weight than expected or if you can see signs of weakness and malnutrition, you should see a vet and put your dog on a prescription diet.
Can weight affect a dog’s life span?
According to a study, there is a definite correlation between a dog’s weight and lifespan. While excessive weight is a sign of obesity, weight loss can be a sign of malnutrition. In both cases, your pet won’t be able to enjoy a long healthy life.
Can supplements help a dog gain weight?
Yes, if your dog is unable to gain weight with just food, weight gain supplements for dogs can help. However, those supplements should contain high-quality natural ingredients. It is best to see a vet and get a prescription supplement after proper checkup and diagnosis.
Can treats help my dog gain weight?
Treats can add a healthy amount of extra calories to your dog’s diet. If your dog is a picky eater, then you can try adding some treats to their daily routine. However, too many treats can make them even more selective.
The following buyers’ guide will answer some more questions before we continue with our list of best dog foods for weight increase.
Buyers’ Guide: Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
While there are effective supplements, the right food plays a vital role. However, every dog may have a different reason behind their weight loss, so you need to keep those factors in mind.
The first thing you need to know when buying dog food for weight gain is why your dog is skinny in the first place. Once again, keep in mind that not every skinny dog is malnourished.
So, let’s see what could be the possible reason.
When Should You Worry?
Your dog’s weight can fluctuate throughout its life. From age to activity level, everything matters. I have seen dogs lose weight whenever there is a new partner to play with. I have also seen dogs lose weight in summer and gain a few pounds in winter. Weight loss is often caused by dehydration or fluid loss as well.
Losing less than 10% of normal body weight is usually nothing to worry about. But if the weight loss is rapid and your pet loses more than 10% of its normal body weight, it could be more serious.
Common Reasons Behind Weight Loss in Dogs
Parasites – Intestinal Parasites can cause weight loss in dogs. While most pets are on medicines to prevents parasites, some worms like heartworms and whipworms can survive protective drugs. Look for other symptoms such as vomiting, soft stool, or change in stool smell and color.
Teeth and Gum Diseases – Sometimes, oral diseases are the sole reason behind loss of appetite and weight loss in dogs. If your dog can’t chew properly, it won’t be able to get the most out of its meal. Gum diseases can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.
Kidney and Heart Disease – A lot of dogs are susceptible to kidney diseases. If these diseases are left untreated, they can eventually lead to loss of appetite and weight loss. As for heart diseases, they are more common among older dogs.
Diabetes – Diabetes can cause excessive and rapid weight loss in dogs. It is also because many dog foods for diabetic dogs are often low in calories. It is best to consult a vet and get a prescription food with a healthy balance of calories and nutrients.
Anxiety and Stress – Separation anxiety or any form of mental stress can cause a dog to lose its appetite. It is important to keep your pet happy by spending valuable time with them. Take care of your furry friends by engaging them in social activities and exercise.
Several other diseases, such as thyroid problems and Addison’s disease, can also cause severe weight loss. Since there can be so many reasons, a visit to the vet should always be your first step.
What to Look for in Dog Food for Weight Gain?
While weight loss in dogs can be for different reasons, the solution is usually the same: Lots of proteins and lots of fats.
But it isn’t just that.
While you need a lot of calories, you also need to make sure the calories come from quality sources. So, always take a look at the ingredients. I generally recommend real meat as the first ingredient, but for weight gain meals are acceptable because they are richer in protein.
Fat should come from quality animal sources as well. Chicken fat is often added to dog food to promote weight gain. For dogs, fat also converts into energy, so you don’t have to worry about the unhealthy aspects of fat that we humans fear.
As I said before, 30/20 protein and fat ratio is what you should be looking for.
One more thing that you should look for in a high protein, high fat dog food is a good amount of fiber as it makes a heavy meal easily digestible for your baby.
What To Do About Picky Eaters?
If your dog is underweight because it is too picky about its meal, then you need to consider it’s a palate as well. Observe and notice which meat your dog enjoys and which ones it avoids.
If your dog doesn’t have a good appetite, try feeding smaller portions throughout the day. For instance, instead of two full bowls twice a day, give it four to five smaller portions a day, this also helps with digestion as there is less pressure on their tummy.
You can also add a bit of wet food to make it more tempting for your baby. Let’s discuss why wet food is often better.
Wet vs. Dry Food for Weight Gain
Wet food vs. dry food always makes for an interesting debate. While wet food is generally healthier because of moisture content, dry food tends to have more calories and is also easier to digest. Wet food can be more filing due to moisture, so your pet might not eat as much as it would eat dry food in one meal.
That said, picky dogs are usually more inclined towards wet food. It smells enticing and tastes closer to the real thing.
So, which one is better?
For picky dogs, you can always top dry kibble with a bit of premium wet dog food to make it more appealing for your friend. This way, your dog will consume more calories while still getting the taste and texture it wants.
Diet and Exercise
If you want your dog to gain weight the healthy way, then you cant focus just on diet. You need to make sure your baby is not only consuming calories but also utilizing them. Exercise is essential to ensure that the extra calories you are adding to your friend’s diet won’t cause any troubles down the lane.
Besides, a healthy weight gain isn’t just additional fat; it’s muscle as well. So, exercise should be an essential part of your dog’s weight management plan.
More Best Adult Dog Foods for Weight Gain
8. Nature’s Logic — Canine Chicken Meal Feast Dry Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Millet, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Pumpkin Seed, 5. Yeast Culture
Chicken meal can pack more proteins than chicken meat. That is why I recommend chicken meal based recipes like Nature Logic’s Chicken Meal Feast for dogs who are underweight for any reason. This protein-packed recipe is free of gluten and common allergens.
Your friend will get a healthy dose of probiotic bacteria to help with digestion. What’s More: Each kibble is coated with digestive enzymes to make it perfectly suitable for sensitive stomachs.
9. Nulo Freestyle — Limited+ Salmon Recipe Grain-Free
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3, Chickpeas, 4. Chickpea Flour, 5. Canola Oil
It is understandable that some dogs won’t or don’t like poultry or red meat. For such dogs, seafood can be a great option. This salmon recipe is one of my top picks for such picky eaters.
The best thing about the salmon-rich recipe is the healthy amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are good for joints as well as the coat and skin. Moreover, this high protein formula is low in carbs, which makes it perfect for dogs at risk of diabetes.
10. Solid Gold — Barking at the Moon High-Protein Grain-Free
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Pea Protein, 4. Potatoes, 5. Dried Eggs
With 41% protein and 18% fat, this grain-free recipe will give your pet the nutritious boost it needs to get back on its feet. Made from an extraordinary recipe based on beef and ocean fish meal.
An additional protein boost comes from peas and dried eggs. The formula supports muscle growth as well as a healthy metabolism. Around twenty superfoods add an antioxidant boost to your dog’s daily diet.
Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain
Did you know that a puppy needs more calories than an adult dog? Their bodies and minds are growing, which means they need a constant supply of nutrients. Also, little ones are more active than adults. A pup in need of a few pounds may require food more calorie-dense than their regular puppy food.
Let’s see if my top recommendations fit the bill.
11. Nutro — ULTRA Puppy Superfood Plate
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Brown Rice, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Whole Grain Oatmeal
If you’re looking for a high-protein puppy food that will help your active pup gain a healthy amount of muscle, Nutro Ultra Superfood Plate is your best bet. Protein in this recipe comes from chicken, lamb, and salmon.
Plus, there is a mix of vegetables containing all the essential micronutrients. The formula also improves the absorption of nutrients from every meal. Overall, this holistic blend not only enhances your baby’s health but also helps it prevent illness that can cause further weight loss.
12. Adirondack — 30% High-Fat Puppy & Performance
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 5. Ground Grain Sorghum
Adirondack 30% protein high-fat recipe is perfect for puppies and adult dogs alike. This chicken-based recipe made from high-quality ingredients contains all-natural ingredients topped with probiotics to enhance nutritional absorption.
Also, there are enough Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to improve overall skin and coat.
13. Wild Frontier — Nutro with Turkey & Duck Grain-Free Puppy Food
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Split Peas, 4. Dried Potatoes, 5. Chicken Fat
Nearly 60% of this puppy food content is animal-based. This delicious turkey and chicken recipe can entice even the pickiest pooch in your home.
This high-protein diet can work wonders for rescue puppy in need of a nutrient-dense diet to gain energy and weight. What I truly love about it is that each pack has a lot of delicious organ meat from more than three different sources of prey.
14. Stella & Chewy’s — Perfectly Puppy Beef & Salmon Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Salmon With Ground Bone, 3. Beef Liver, 4. Beef Kidney, 5. Beef Tripe
Stella & Chewy is a regular on my top dog food lists, and for more than one reasons. It is an excellent option for starting your baby’s raw food journey. It has probiotics and is free of all the known allergens, which means it won’t cause any tummy troubles for your little one.
These freeze-dried patties are delicious enough to tempt the picky pups out there. With beef as the main source of protein, your puppy will healthily gain weight.
Best Senior Dog Food for Weight Gain
Age is one of the main factors behind weight loss in dogs. Sometimes, dogs lose their appetite as they grow older, and sometimes there is an underlying disease causing loss of muscle. Whichever the case, a balanced meal with the right amount of proteins and fat can make things better.
15. Nature’s Variety—Instinct Raw Boost Senior Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Chickpeas, 3. Peas, 4. Tapioca, 5. Chicken
Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Senior recipe is generally my top recommendation for ailing senior dogs. It is a perfect blend of raw meat mixed with high protein kibbles and topped with probiotics and Omega fatty acids.
The coated kibble makes it easy to eat and even easier to digest. Even for dogs who are extremely weak due to age-related illness, this recipe will provide the nutrition-rich boost to expedite recovery.
16. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Senior Grain-Free
Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Beef, 2. Beef Broth, 3. Turkey, 4. Lamb, 5. Potatoes
Rocky Mountain Red Meat Dinner Recipe is a delicious, nutrition-dense meal for aging dogs who need to put on some pounds.
It is a great option for dogs who are picky and who are unable to chew dry kibble due to dental problems. Its protein content comes from beef, turkey, and lamb meat in the recipe. Overall, an excellent option for your aging buddy.
17. Nulo — Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior
Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Trout, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Salmon Meal, Yellow Peas, Sweet Potato
It isn’t easy to find an excellent senior dog food when your dog needs a few more pounds but can’t eat high glycemic meals.
Nulo Freestyle is one of the very few options that can give your pal enough calories without increasing health risks. Not to mention, this trout and turkey recipe smells quite amazing and tastes delicious enough to entice your senior friend.