What is the Best High-Calorie Dog Food?

We may earn a small commission when readers buy products through links on this page. It supports our team to keep posting great content. Learn more about this here.

Are you looking for high-calorie dog food for your pup to help sustain his energy levels or help him gain weight? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Good high-calorie dog food should help your pet build muscles without developing stomach issues. As your pet deserves only the best, we’ve put together a selection of twelve of the best high-quality dog foods for your pooch.

A Pomeranian eating dog food from bowl
A lovely Pomeranian dog having its meal

Top 5 Picks for Best High-Calorie Dog Food

  High-Calorie Dog Food Recipes Our Rating
Best Overall High-Calorie Dog Food (Editor’s Choice) Purina Pro Plan All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

  • Contains 30% protein and 20% fat
  • Packed full of antioxidants to help strengthen your pet’s immune system
  • Contains protein from multiple sources including chicken, beef fat, dried egg, and fish meal
5
Best Budget High-Calorie Dog Food Crave High Protein White Fish & Salmon Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • A protein-rich recipe that features whitefish as the main ingredient
  • The grain-free dog food features easy-to-digest carbohydrates like lentils and peas
  • It doesn’t contain any soy, corn, chicken by-product meal, wheat, or artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors
4.5
Best High-Calorie Puppy Food Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

  • Contains only natural ingredients including a variety of fruits and veggies
  • Has balanced levels of prebiotics and fatty acids to support your pet’s immune system and digestive health
  • It contains 28% protein and no poultry by-products or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
4.5
Best High-Calorie Adult Dog Food Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • Contains 32% protein using novel proteins including buffalo and bison
  • Packed with omega three and six fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • No grains, corn, wheat, and artificial flavors or artificial colors
4.5
Best High-Calorie Senior Dog Food Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food, Chicken & Barley

  • This food features plenty of antioxidant-rich ingredients which help boost the immune system 
  • Features omega-three fatty acids to help your dog maintain a lustrous skin and coat
  • It contains beta carotene, which will help protect your pet against heart disease and cancer
5

Best High-Calorie Dog Food Brands (by Life Stage)

A Labrador Retriever dog eating dog food from bowl
A Labrador Retriever munching on his meal

Below, we’ve evaluated some of the best high-calorie commercial dog food options, looking at each brand’s specific pros and cons.

With every stage of your dog’s life, from puppyhood through to those senior years, having particular dietary requirements, we’ve separated our top picks by life stage to make it easier for you to choose the best dog food for your furry pal.

Best High-Calorie Food for All Life Stages

A Dalmatian Labrador Retriever given with food
Timba, a Dalmador, wants some food – Image source

Certain dog foods have been designed to be suitable for your dog, no matter their age. These options mean that you don’t have to transition your dog onto a different diet as he ages.

Here are our top three picks of high-calorie dog foods for dogs in all life stages.

1. Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
Type: Dry

The Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast is a nutrient-dense dry dog food designed for pets of all life stages.

This palatable kibble features real chicken as the first ingredient, with several fruits and vegetables included in the formula to support your dog’s whole body health.

Pros:

  • The formula is fortified with probiotics and digestive enzymes to make it easier for your pet to digest while aiding in nutrient absorption
  • Free from common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, peas, and sweet potatoes

Cons:

  • This food has quite a low-fat content for a high-calorie diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Purina Pro Plan All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Formula

Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice
Type: Dry

This high-performance Purina Pro Plan dog food contains 30% protein and 20% fat and is designed to support pets of all life stages, from growing puppies to working adult dogs.

The recipe is packed full of antioxidants to help strengthen your pet’s immune system and defend against cancer-causing free radicals.

Pros:

  • This food is quite affordable when compared to other products on the market
  • It contains protein from multiple sources, including chicken, beef fat, dried egg, and fish meal

Cons:

  • Some dogs simply refuse to eat this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

3. Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food for All Ages

Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
Type: Dry

The Bully Max Formula is a high-protein, high-calorie dog food designed to maximize your pet’s performance. Featuring real meat from chicken as the primary protein source, this formula contains 30% protein and 20% fat.

It’s suitable for all breeds of dogs from the age of four weeks.

Pros:

  • This food contains no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or other ingredients that could be harmful to your pup
  • The recipe is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-three fatty acids

Cons:

  • This is quite an expensive option when compared with other dog foods on the market

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best High-Calorie Puppy Food

Puppies require a diet that is packed full of protein and essential vitamins and minerals that help support brain and bone development. 

An English Labrador Retriever puppy with food
Zoe, an English Lab, has food that is almost her size – Image source

As puppies still have developing mouths and teeth, they also need kibble that’s small and easy to chew. Here are a few of our favorite high-calorie puppy foods:

4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

This complete and balanced Rachael Ray Nutrist Bright Puppy formula is designed to meet all of your puppy’s nutritional needs.

The recipe contains only natural ingredients, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, to supply your puppy with plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants.

Pros:

  • This dog food contains balanced levels of prebiotics and fatty acids to support your pet’s immune system and digestive health
  • This food contains 28% protein and no poultry by-products or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons:

  • This food caused some dogs to have a loose and runny stool

CHECK PRICE HERE

5. Adirondack Dog Food 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe For Puppy & Performance Dogs

Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe 

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
Type: Dry

Made from premium, all-natural ingredients, the Adirondack Dry Dog Food contains 30% protein and 30% fat.

Designed to help your dog gain weight through improved metabolism and better digestion, this food has a nutritionally balanced recipe jampacked with lots of vitamins and minerals.

Pros:

  • It contains no corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors
  • This food is slow-cooked at low temperatures to maintain the maximum nutrition for your pup

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained that the kibble is tiny, even for puppies

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best High-Calorie Adult Dog Food

A French Bulldog with food
Elizabeth the Frenchie waits for her food to be served – Image source

If you have an adult dog that has exceptionally high energy levels or is struggling to gain weight, then you might want to consider feeding them high-calorie dog food.

While many choices are available, you want a high-quality option that will supply your pet with well-balanced nutrition.

Here are a few of our favorites:

6. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free, High Protein, Fresh and Raw Animal Ingredients

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Flounder
Type: Dry

The Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food contains several fresh, raw animal proteins, such as chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel, herring, and egg.

This recipe is made from 85% meat-based ingredients and is free from any plant proteins, grains, gluten, or additivities.

Pros:

  • Designed to mimic whole prey, this food contains a blend of muscle meat, organs, cartilage, and bones
  • With 38% protein levels, this food supplies your pet with oodles of energy

Cons:

  • Some dogs experienced diarrhea on this diet
  • Expensive

CHECK PRICE HERE

7. Crave High Protein White Fish & Salmon Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Crave High Protein White Fish & Salmon Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: White Fish, Chicken Meal, Lentils
Type: Dry

This high-calorie diet mimics the ancestral diet of canines through a protein-rich recipe that features whitefish as the main ingredient. The grain-free formula features easy-to-digest carbohydrates like lentils and peas.

Pros:

  • This food doesn’t contain any soy, corn, chicken by-product meal, wheat, or artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors
  • With a minimum protein content of 34%, this food is designed to help your pet build strong and healthy muscles

Cons:

  • Some of the protein in this formula is comprised of plant proteins

CHECK PRICE HERE

8. Kinetic Performance Power 30K Formula Dry Dog Food

Kinetic Performance Power 30K Formula Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Chicken Fat (mixed tocopherol preservative)
Type: Dry

This nutrient-dense formula is created for pets with high energy levels and adult dogs that have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.

30% protein and 20% fat are also ideal for working dogs that need an additional boost.

Pros:

  • This dry dog food is fortified with vitamins and trace minerals
  • It contains no corn, wheat, or soy which are known allergens for dogs

Cons:

  • Unfortunately, this formula contains 21 synthetic ingredients

CHECK PRICE HERE

9. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal
Type: Dry

Formulated with high-quality ingredients, the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dog Food features premium meats, grain-free carbohydrates, and plenty of nutrient-rich supplemental ingredients.

This food contains 32% protein from various meat sources, including water buffalo, lamb, chicken, egg, bison, venison, beef, and ocean fish.

Pros:

  • This food is formulated with probiotics, vitamins, and antioxidants to cater to your dog’s overall wellbeing
  • It includes optimal levels of omega six and omega-three fatty acids for building healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained their big dogs pooped an extreme amount on this diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

10. VICTOR CLASSIC High Energy High-Calorie Dog Food for Active Dogs 

VICTOR CLASSIC High Energy High-Calorie Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Millet
Type: Dry

This protein-rich, high-calorie Victor Classic Dog Food is designed to help your dog build lean muscle mass.

Made in the brand’s Texas-based facility in the USA, this high-energy formula is designed to sustain even the most active pups. It’s also fortified with probiotics and prebiotics for easy digestion.

Pros:

  • This formula contains Selenium Yeast which helps support metabolic function
  • Packed with omega three and six fatty acids, this dog food will help your dog maintain healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • Some dogs started vomiting for no reason on this diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best High-Calorie Senior Dog Food

A senior yellow Labrador Retriever sitting
Wilson, a senior yellow Lab, taking a walk – Image source

Older dogs tend to lose weight and muscle mass quicker than their younger counterparts. High-calorie dog food can help your pet maintain a healthy weight while giving them that energy boost they need in their senior years.

Here are some excellent high-calorie options for your older pet:

11. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food, Chicken & Barley

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food

Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
Type: Dry

The Wellness Complete Health Natural Recipe is a high-quality kibble packed with plenty of nutrients from protein and wholesome grains.

This food features plenty of antioxidant-rich ingredients which help boost the immune system and give your senior dog the balanced nutrient he needs to thrive.

Pros:

  • It features omega-three fatty acids to help your dog maintain a lustrous skin and coat
  • This formula contains beta carotene, which will help protect your pet against heart disease and cancer

Cons:

  • Some dogs had loose stools when on this diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

12. ORIJEN Senior High-Calorie Dog Food for Seniors & Older Dogs, High-Protein & Grain-Free

ORIJEN Senior High-Calorie Dog Food for Seniors

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Flounder
Type: Dry

Designed especially for senior and older dogs, the Orijen Senior-High Calorie Recipe features a protein-rich formula with 85% animal ingredients to help build lean muscle mass.

It’s also packed full of natural fruits and vegetables for natural fiber to aid in better digestion.

Pros:

  • This food has been fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support your elderly dog’s joints and hip health
  • It contains calcium and phosphorus for maintaining strong bones, teeth, and gums

Cons:

  • Some picky eaters refused to eat this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

Why is My Dog Underweight?

An underweight dog sitting
An underweight doggo – Image source

There are a variety of reasons why your dog may be struggling to gain weight.

Perhaps your pet is simply a picky eater, or they’re not getting enough food to sustain their energy levels. Certain health conditions can also cause your pet to lose weight, such as stomach problems and a damaged GI tract. 

Dogs with poor teeth can also struggle to eat and gain weight due to dental pain. Also, dogs that suffer from severe separation anxiety or stress can sometimes lose weight as they are too stressed to eat properly.

What are the benefits of high-calorie dog food? 

There are a variety of reasons why pet owners might decide to feed their pooch a high-calorie diet. High-calorie diets help provide your pet with all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to support their overall well-being.

These diets are also typically rich in protein which your pet needs to build good muscle tone. 

High-calorie diets also help sustain the energy levels of active dogs while giving your dog that full feeling for longer. High-calorie diets can also help underweight or ill pets to gain weight quickly.

When are High-Calorie Diets a Good Idea?

A Jack Russell Terrier jumping
Tops, a very joyful Jack Russell Terrier – Image source

Pets that are greedy eaters or have low energy levels are not the ones that should be indulging in high-calorie diets, as these could cause your dog to become obese.

High-calorie diets are meant for active dogs that need more energy. These might be working dogs or athletic dogs that like to run, participate in dog sports or agility, or hunt or herd animals.

If your dog is very skinny, perhaps he’s a rescue animal or has been ill recently, then a high-calorie diet can help him gain weight.

Senior dogs struggling to maintain their weight, muscle tone, and energy levels might also benefit from a high-calorie diet.

High-calorie diets are also a good idea for pregnant or lactating female dogs as well as puppies. These dogs need more calories to support growth and development.

The Body Condition Test

It can be challenging to tell if your pet is over or underweight just by looking at them. As different breeds have different body statures, wrinkles, or thick fluffy hair, it can feel impossible to know if your dog is on its ideal body weight.

Get your vet to check your dog’s body condition regularly. You can also check yourself by feeling your dog’s body.

The best way to test your dog’s body condition is to feel their ribs, waist, and belly. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs quite easily when you run your fingers over them without being able to see them visibly.

Your dog’s belly should also tuck up nicely from the chest to the belly. A saggy belly can indicate an overweight dog. Finally, looking down at your dog from above, your pet should have a slightly tucked-in waist at the hips.

Check out this video on how to check your dog’s body condition at home:

Symptoms to look for if you think your dog is underweight

If you suspect your dog is malnourished, they may show the following signs:

  • Slightly Underweight: Slightly underweight dogs would have a clear definition around the waist, and the ribs might be somewhat more prominent.
  • Underweight: Dogs with a hollow stomach are underweight. Dogs that have clearly visible ribs through the skin are also likely malnourished. These dogs might also have an extreme definition on the hips and shoulders.
  • Severely Underweight: Dogs that look like walking skeletons would be severely underweight. Their muscles will look concave, and you will be able to see the bones as they make contact with the skin. These dogs might also show symptoms of lethargy.
  • Emaciated: These dogs need emergency medical care. Their weight loss is so extreme that they look like a bag of bones, and they are probably also suffering from numerous other health issues.

Best High-Calorie Dog Food Buying Guide

A rescue dog looking up
Mona, a rescue dog, hungrily asking her hooman for food – Image source

All the ingredients in your dog’s food, be that carbs, fat, or protein, will provide a specific number of calories per gram. You want your dog’s food to be able to provide him with enough energy, help him maintain good health, and live a long life.

Here are some tips and tricks for selecting the best high-calorie dog food for your pet:

How to choose the best high-calorie dog foods?

A high-calorie diet should contain plenty of protein and fat. If your dog needs a high-calorie diet, try and look for food that has at least 30% protein and 20% fat. The higher protein content will help your dog gain weight.

This is because protein has amino acids that help build lean, strong muscles. Good protein sources include chicken, bison, venison, fish, and beef.

You also want to look for food that doesn’t contain too many filler ingredients. These filler ingredients or simple carbohydrates don’t offer your pet much nutrition, and so are empty calories. 

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates like whole grains will help sustain your pet’s energy over time and reduce their risk of developing diabetes.

Some great examples of complex carbs include sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, and lentils.

Your dog’s food should also contain easily identifiable animal fats as well as fish oil or flaxseed oil that have plenty of benefits for your dog’s skin and coat. Pumpkin is one particular vegetable that is loaded with healthy fats.

Wet, Semi-Moist, or Dry? Which high-calorie food is best for your dog?

Canned food can make your pet’s meals more appealing due to the pungent smell and taste. For picky eaters, you can switch your dog over to a canned diet or use some wet dog food on their daily kibble as a tasty topper. 

Wet foods also don’t typically contain as many filler ingredients as dry kibble, so you can rest assured that the calories you are supplying your dog are directly from the protein and fat sources.

To grain or not to grain: Do dogs need grain-free high-calorie food?

Grains like corn, wheat, or soy can bulk up your dog’s food so that they feel full, but these ingredients won’t supply your pet with the nutrients or energy he needs to thrive.

Grains can also offer your pet sudden bursts of energy rather than helping to sustain their energy over long periods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Chihuahua Terrier mix looking at food
Matcha, a Chihuahua Terrier mix, has his eyes on his cupcake – Image source

What dog food has the most calories per cup?

The number of calories per cup your pet needs will vary among dog breeds, sizes, genders, and weights.

Typically an average small breed adult will need 345 calories per cup, while a medium-sized dog needs 336 calories per cup and a large dog only 327 calories per cup.

That said, dogs with high energy levels or who are underweight can benefit from significantly more than this.

There are various other commercial dog food options not mentioned above that offer a high number of calories per cup. These include offerings from top brands like Blue Buffalo. 

However, our top dog food choice above, Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Chicken and Rice Formula, offers a whopping calorie content of 484 calories per cup.

What is the best high-calorie food for a picky dog?

Picky eaters need a dog food that tastes and smells great, so they are encouraged to eat.

According to the reviews on Chewy and Amazon, Purina Pro Plan above is favored by picky eaters. Some pet owners say their picky dogs even lick their bowls clean on this diet.

What is the best high-calorie dog food for sensitive stomachs?

Dogs with sensitive stomachs will likely benefit from a holistic diet that features no corn, wheat, or soy, as these are common allergens for dogs. 

Dog owners with food-sensitive pups should also look for limited ingredient diets that contain one or two protein sources and few added ingredients so that they can narrow down any particular food items to which their pet may be allergic.

Can you give homemade high-calorie food to your dog?

Did you run out of kibble, or are you just looking for a way to provide your pet with natural, healthy nutrition? You can try making a delicious homemade high-calorie food for your canine.

Some high-calorie foods you can include in your homemade dog food include raw, scrambled, or boiled eggs, cottage cheese, lean meats, and quinoa. 

Avoid putting milk, onions, garlic, and grapes in your pet’s diet as these can be toxic to dogs or lead to a runny gut.

You might try making this satin ball recipe for your dog instead of buying them commercial high-calorie dog food:

Ingredients (exact quantities to be determined according to your dog’s breed and size):

  • Oatmeal
  • Wheat germ
  • Oil
  • Molasses
  • Eggs
  • Powdered gelatin
  • Ground beef
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Mix the oatmeal and wheat germ in a large bowl
  2. Add the oil, salt, and molasses
  3. Add the eggs with the shells but break them up finely, so they are easy to consume
  4. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly to create a thick paste-like substance
  5. Sprinkle in the gelatin powder
  6. Knead in the ground beef until the liquid mixture is spread evenly. The consistency should be similar to meatloaf
  7. Separate the meat into meal-sized portions and roll it into balls
  8. Store in the freezer and thaw before feeding to your pet

Should you add a high-calorie supplement to your dog’s regular food?

Supplements can be a good idea, particularly for growing puppies or pregnant female dogs. Supplements will help boost your pet’s protein while also supplying various additional benefits, like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Be sure to speak to your vet before adding any weight gain supplement to your dog’s food to ensure it is the right thing for your dog.

How can you fatten up your dog?

To fatten up your dog, you need to increase his daily calorie intake. This is done by feeding your pet a diet designed to increase nutrient absorption and improve digestibility.

This food should be provided to your dog over three or four meals a day rather than just one or two large meals a day.

Along with feeding your dog a high-calorie diet, you can also look to fatten up your dog with delicious high-calorie snacks. Great high-calorie snacks include small chunks of cooked beef and eggs.

These can make up ten to fifteen percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

You also need to encourage your dog to exercise. Exercise will help your dog build muscle and strength, which will help him maintain weight. Just be sure not to overdo it if your pet is ill.

Talk to Your Vet Before Introducing High-Calorie Dog Food into Your Dog’s Diet

A Miniature Cavapoo sitting at a dining table
Fiona, a Mini Cavapoo, wants to try the human way to eat – Image source

Helping your dog gain weight is about more than just pumping him with as much food as possible. You want your dog to be eating a well-balanced, nutritional diet that will help him build lean muscle and not just fat.

You want your dog to be in the best physical condition possible, with plenty of energy, so it’s essential to feed him properly. 

When adding new food to your dog’s diet or switching between foods, it’s always a good idea to make this a slow, gradual process over seven to ten days.

Gradually add more new food to your dog’s old food until the switchover is complete. This will help prevent your pup from developing an upset stomach.

You should also be sure to chat to your vet about the right food for your dog’s body condition, health, breed, and energy levels.

Are you currently feeding your dog a high-calorie diet? We’d love to hear more about what works for your pup. Let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading: The best dog food options for your fluffy family member

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.