Obesity is much more common in dogs than your pet being underweight. Nevertheless, it can happen where you find yourself in a situation where your dog needs to pack on the pounds.
Fortunately, various dog food brands have options that can help your dog get those extra calories and reach a healthy weight. Keep reading to discover some of our favorites:
Top 5 Picks for Best Dog Food for Gaining Weight
|Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
|Best Overall Dog Food for Weight Gain (All Life stages)||Blackwood Adirondack Pet Food High-Calorie Dog Food
|Best Budget Dog Food for Weight Gain||Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food
|Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain||Blackwood Adirondack Pet Food High-Calorie Dog Food
|Best Dog Food for Adult dogs with Weight Gain||Bully Max High-Performance Dog Food for Weight Gain
|Best Senior Dog Food with Weight Gain||Nature’s Variety Natural Dry Dog Food (Chicken)
Best Dog Food Brands for Weight Gain (by Life Stages)
Foods designed for all life stages are also suitable for puppies and tend to have a higher protein and calorie content than adult-only or senior foods.
These foods are thus an excellent choice for a dog that needs to gain weight. That said, several brands also offer specific options for puppies or elderly pets. Let’s take a closer look at the best of the best:
Best Puppy Dog Food for Weight Gain
Some dog foods have been designed specifically with puppies to help growing dogs gain weight in a healthy manner.
These foods typically include supplements that also support the bone and brain development of young dogs.
1. Blackwood Adirondack Pet Food High-Calorie Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat
Premium, all-natural dry dog food made in the USA with no corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors. This food contains 30% protein from only the highest-quality ingredients.
Blackwood’s slow cooking process has been perfected over 40 years to provide the best, tastiest nutrition to your pup.
- Nutritionally balanced with plenty of Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids
- Picky dogs seemed to love the taste of this food
- Kibbles are relatively small, so larger breeds may struggle to eat this food
2. Nulo Freestyle Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas
A seafood alternative for picky dogs that don’t like chicken or beef. This salmon-rich recipe features lots of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and to aid with joint health.
This high-protein food is low in carbs, making it a good choice for pups prone to developing diabetes.
- Contains 30% crude protein as well as plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
- Loaded with probiotics for digestive and immune health
- Contains canola oil which can become toxic when processed
Best Adult Dog Food for Weight Gain
High-quality dog food with the right balance of protein and fat can make a huge difference in maintaining a healthy weight.
While many brands, such as Blue Buffalo and Taste of the Wild, create high protein diets for dogs, not all of them also have the perfect balance of fat and carb content with plenty of calories.
Here are some of our favorite foods for dogs that need to gain weight:
1. Bully Max High-Performance Dog Food for Weight Gain
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat
Protein-rich premium meat-based formula kibble that offers pets 535 calories per cup with 33% protein and 22% fat.
The Bully Max High-Performance super premium dog food is jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
This food is suitable for puppies over the age of four weeks and can sustain them through to adulthood.
- Features no corn, wheat, or soy
- This food is triple-checked before leaving the factory and has never undergone any recalls
- One of the most expensive weight gain foods on the market
2. Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food with Protein
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas
USA manufactured grain-free dog food with a high-protein formula featuring salmon as the main ingredient and several other protein sources.
Contributing to the ingredient list are chicken meal, pork meal, lamb meal, and fish meal. This high-calorie dog food also includes several protein-rich vegetables such as chickpeas and split peas.
- Has no soy, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Suited for dogs of all breed sizes
- Caused some dogs to suffer from diarrhea
3. Ziwi Peak Canned Dog Food for Weight Gain (Beef)
Top Ingredients: Beef, Water, Beef Lung
Tasty canned food for picky eaters designed to taste and smell like real meat and loaded with protein from 100% single-sourced beef from New Zealand farms.
This chunky, loaf-style food includes additional nutrients from organ meat like lung, tripe, and kidney and plenty of healthy fats. The grain-free recipe is suitable for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs.
- Free of any antibiotics, growth promotants, and added hormones
- A natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
- Some pet owners complained of dented cans
4. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe Dry Food
Top Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal
Beef-based, high-protein, raw recipe designed explicitly for underweight dogs with real beef, lamb, and rabbit.
This food is rich in carbohydrates, fats, and protein to offer a balanced diet to malnourished dogs with additional fruits and veggies and raw, freeze-dried beef adding heaps of flavor.
Designed to build muscle and maintain the energy levels of adult dogs.
- Features high levels of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Glucosamine and chondroitin help support hip and joint function
- Some dog owners said the food had no raw chunks as promised
5. Nature’s Logic Dry Dog Food (Chicken)
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat
100% natural formula protein-packed recipe free of gluten and other common allergens, while the kibble is also coated with digestive enzymes for sensitive stomachs.
Also, this food is formulated with a healthy dose of probiotic bacteria to aid digestion.
- Contains minimally processed food, such as dried kelp, blueberries, spinach, and cranberries
- Millet provides a low-sugar carbohydrate content
- Some dog owners complained the kibble was too small for their dogs
6. Solid Gold High Protein Dry Dog Food (Beef, Eggs & Peas)
Top Ingredients: Beef, Ocean Fish Meal, Pea Protein
Dry grain-free kibble featuring 41% protein and 18% fat with the protein coming from ocean fish, real beef, peas, and dried egg.
This food is designed to boost muscle growth while building a healthy metabolism.
It includes twenty superfoods, such as pumpkins, cranberries, carrots, blueberries, to give your dog an antioxidant boost that will build his immune system.
- To aid digestion, this food features prebiotics and 90 million probiotics per pound
- Made by the company that created America’s first holistic dog food
- Some pups simply refused to eat this food
7. Wellness Natural Dog Food for Weight Gain (Chicken & Broccoli)
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Water Sufficient For Processing, Broccoli
Grain-free canned dog food features all-natural ingredients with premium proteins like chicken and antioxidant-rich superfoods such as broccoli.
Creating a balanced diet for your dog, this food is also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
You can either serve this wet dog food as a stand-alone meal or add it as a tasty topper to encourage picky eaters to devour their food.
- Doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Some pups got a sore stomach on this food
- This diet caused loose stool with some pups
8. Purina Pro Plan High-Calorie Dog Food (Salmon and Rice)
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice
High-protein dry dog food is specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
This nutrient-rich recipe features real salmon and fish oil, providing excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and improving mobility.
A highly digestible formula with rice and oatmeal fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber for building a robust digestive system.
- Crafted without corn, wheat, or soy
- Some dogs would not touch this food
- There are owners who complained this food had a foul smell
9. Maximum Bully Dog Food for Weight Gain (Chicken and Pork)
Top Ingredients: Chicken meal, pork meal, chicken fat
Dry kibble offers 481 calories per cup, alongside 32% protein and 22% fat. This particular dog food features multiple protein sources, various vitamins, amino acids, and nutrients to support a healthy dog.
In addition to improving body condition, this food promotes a healthy digestive system through oatmeal, cranberry, probiotics, and pumpkin.
- Includes yeast protein for building healthy, lean muscle
- The yeast content can lead to infections in some breeds
- Some pet owners complained this food was costly compared to other top picks
Best Senior Dog Food for Weight Gain
Dogs often tend to lose weight as they get older. This is primarily due to muscle degeneration.
However, if your dog is also exhausted and weak, their weight loss could be more than just old age. In this case, you’ll want to consult your vet before putting your pup on any new diet.
1. Nature’s Variety Natural Dry Dog Food (Chicken)
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Chicken, Chicken Fat
Natural dry dog food that is great for picky eaters that love poultry. This formula is made from real cage-free chicken with around 47% protein and 17% fat.
It is a raw recipe with premium ingredients, added vitamins and minerals, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
This food features probiotics for better digestion and antioxidants for a healthy immune system.
- Gluten and grain-free dry dog food with no corn, wheat, soy, or additional filler ingredients
- Includes healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids from flaxseed for a shiny, healthy coat
- Some pet owners complained that the raw bits promised in the kibble were limited if non-existent
2. Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewer’s Rice
Reasonably priced dog food made in the USA featuring 475 Calories per cup, which chicken as the first ingredient.
While this is not a weight gain-specific formula, it is made to help dogs gain muscle mass through an increased calorie diet.
- Has natural sources of glucosamine for joint health
- Contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Lacks the caloric density of some other more expensive dog food brands
What Causes Weight Loss in Dogs?
Rescued and abandoned dogs are often underweight due to a lack of nutrition, and if you’ve just picked up your pup from the shelter, you may be looking for ways to get him to healthy body weight.
Also, weight loss in dogs is often a symptom of a bigger health problem. You will need to contact your vet to get to the root of your dog’s health issues and weight loss.
Besides, anxiety, stress, or undergoing surgery can cause your dog to lose weight. Some other typical causes of weight loss in dogs include the following:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intestinal parasites
- Thyroid Problems
- Liver Disease
- Dental Problems
Some dogs are merely picky or fussy eaters, which can also lead to weight loss.
How can you tell if your dog is underweight?
Obvious visible signs that your dog is underweight include protruding hips, ribs, and shoulder blades.
However, some skinny breeds, like Greyhounds, tend not to have much fat in these areas anyway, and it can be difficult to tell if these dogs are malnourished.
Additional signs can include a poor coat condition, fatigue, lethargy, depression, and poor eating habits.
You can also view your dog’s particular breed standards or the American Animal Hospital Association’s weight guidelines to determine your pup’s ideal weight better.
Watch this video by Dr. Heather Stadtherr of Grand Avenue Veterinary Center for more on how to determine if your dog is underweight:
High-Calorie Dog Food Buying Guide: What can you feed your dog for weight gain?
While there are several effective supplements and medicines you can give your dog to help them gain weight, the food you offer will also have a huge role in assisting Fido to maintain a healthy weight.
However, not all dog foods are created equal, so you must know what you’re looking for when selecting the right food.
Dog Nutrition 101: What kind of food does your dog need for weight gain?
Dogs that need to put on weight will benefit from food that has a high-calorie content and lots of protein. While weight gain foods typically tend to have a bit extra fat, too much fat content isn’t healthy.
Puppy growth formulas are often used to help adult dogs gain weight because of their increased protein and calorie content per serving.
That said, puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs, so it’s best to stick to food that has been crafted for your pet’s particular life stage.
What Type of Dog Food Is Used for Weight Gain?
Dog food used for weight gain should be calorically dense and feature more than 30% protein and around 20% fat.
While all forms of animal protein are suitable for your dog, fish and seafood do not work as well for weight gain as fatty meats like duck, beef, or chicken.
Also, look for food that is high in fiber from whole grains as this will be easier for your pup to ingest.
Things to look for when selecting dog food for weight gain
Your dog’s calorie content should come from high-quality ingredients. While real meats are great, meat meals are also suitable for a weight gain diet because of their high protein content.
The fats in your dog’s food should again come from animal sources, such as chicken fat.
Wet, Semi-Moist, or Dry? Which food Is best for your dog?
Wet foods tend to have higher water content and more protein; however, dry dog foods are typically higher in calories and easier to digest.
Also, wet food can keep a dog fuller for longer, so when it comes to increasing the amount of food your dog consumes, this might not be the best choice.
Raw food diets are often very rich in protein. This high protein content will help your dog to gain weight while also building healthy muscle.
However, raw food can also speed up your dog’s metabolism, which means that dogs that are already incredibly skinny might not gain weight at a rapid pace.
To grain or not to grain: Do dogs need grain-free food?
Grains provide carbohydrate content in your dog’s diet, and individual grains, such as rice, can add to weight gain.
However, if your dog is a picky eater or has a sensitive stomach, they could be allergic to grains.
Alternative carbohydrate sources such as sweet potatoes or lentils may be a better choice for an allergy-prone dog.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can weight affect a dog’s life span?
While all dogs will go through weight fluctuations throughout their life, your dog’s weight can affect their lifespan.
Age, breed, and activity level will all influence your dog’s weight, as can changing of the seasons.
Weight fluctuations of around 10% usually are nothing to worry about, but excessive weight gain can cause obesity, and reversely excessive weight loss can lead to malnutrition.
Both of which can diminish the life expectancy of your best friend.
Packing on the pounds: how to put weight on a dog safely.
The safest way to help your dog gain weight is to do it gradually. You don’t want to overfeed a malnourished dog too quickly.
Along with transitioning your dog on to weight gain food, you can also increase the frequency you feed your pup.
While all dogs should be fed at least twice a day, increasing your pup’s meal frequency will help your dog consume more food regularly.
You could also try free-feeding your dog, in which case food is left out throughout the day. This ad libitum feeding strategy can help underweight dogs eat more, especially when they are bored.
High-quality treats and supplements will also help bulk up your pet. Weight gain supplements typically come pre-prepared and are easy to serve in tablet or powder format.
Never use weight gain food as a method for getting your puppy to pack on the pounds.
Puppies should not grow too quickly as this can cause stress on the joints and bones and can lead to issues with your dog’s skeletal development.
And while weight gain is your main concern, that doesn’t mean your dog should be sitting around all day getting fat.
Exercise is essential for helping your dog maintain a healthy weight and ensuring that all the calories you add to your dog’s diet don’t become an issue later down the line.
How to Put Weight On a Dog: More Tips & Tricks
You can do several more things for your dog to help him or her put on weight. This includes letting your dog de-stress.
Anxious dogs simply won’t eat. If you see your dog has been scared, perhaps by fireworks or another traumatic event, give him a few days to just relax without too much activity.
You can also entice your dog to eat with some tasty extras. Try adding some peanut butter, cooked egg, or shredded chicken as a delicious topper on your dog’s kibble to get him to eat better.
Finally, moistening your dog’s food may also help him eat. Dogs with sensitive teeth, senior dogs, and even puppies can struggle to eat dry kibble.
Wetting your dog’s food in some warm water will help soften it up and make it easier to eat.
What to do about picky eater dogs?
Some dogs are merely picky eaters, but if your dog suddenly has a loss in appetite, that may cause concern. When it comes to picky eaters, you’ll also need to consider their palate.
Dogs that don’t have a considerable appetite can benefit from more frequent, small meals as well as tasty toppers from delicious-smelling canned foods.
This way, your dog will get the caloric intake he needs from the dry kibble with the addition of some high-protein, tasty goodness from the wet meal.
Is it wise to make homemade high-calorie dog food?
Always be careful when feeding your dog a homemade alternative. It is challenging to get the balance right when crafting your homemade food recipe, and many well-meaning dog owners fall short.
Food that doesn’t meet your pet’s nutritional needs can cause long-term problems such as joint and bone malformations.
Can treats help my dog gain weight?
Treats can add a fair number of calories to your dog’s diet, and tasty treats can be a good option for particularly fussy eaters.
However, do be selective about the type of treats you offer your pet. Some healthy dog treats that you might already have at home include apples, green beans, carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, and bananas.
If Your Dog is Underweight, Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing a Dog Food
Work in tandem with your vet to ensure that you have correctly identified the cause of your dog being underweight and how best to remedy the situation.
You want your dog to gain weight in a steady, healthy way.
Also, keeping a daily journal of what you fed your dog, their activity level, and their weight will help you keep track of what you are doing and if it is working.
If your dog is severely malnourished, your vet might recommend a prescription diet for your dog as well as a specific weight gain program with additional supplements and medicines.
Have you been feeding your underweight dog a specific dog food? Let us know in the comments below what food you have found to be the best dog food for weight gain!
Further Reading: Other dog foods for pups with health concerns
- Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach
- Best Dog Food for Allergies
- Best Dog Food for Diarrhea
- Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters
- Best Dog Food for Weight Loss