Statistics show that more than 50% of domestic dogs are classified as overweight or obese and it's talked about often HOWEVER you rarely hear anyone talk about underweight dogs but that's a big problem too.
Most of the time, weight loss in dogs is connected to health conditions but sometimes...
Just like human beings, dogs have feelings and they can become depressed or anxious by changes in their environment which has a direct impact on the amount that they eat.
Before you panic, weight loss only becomes a major concern when your dog has lost more than 10% of their ideal weight.
But if you notice that your dog is starting to withdraw from eating, it’s best to nip this behavior in the bud.
One way to do this is by feeding them dog food that is designed for weight gain.
So if your pooch could do with eating more food and / or gaining a few pounds, keep reading to find out the best choices.
But first, here's why you can trust this recommendation...
Before writing this post I spent 20+ hours researching studies carried out by the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturer Association), PetsWebMD, and the National Library of Medicin as well as consulting the websites of Veterinary experts such as VCAHospitals and TodaysVeterinaryPractice which allowed me to gain insight into what underweight dogs need to eat to bulk up.
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The Best Foods To Help Your Dog Gain Weight
OUR TOP PICK
Our favorite dog food for weight gain on the market is the Crave Grain-Free Dry Food formula.
This excellent formula is available in both chicken and beef flavor and whichever option you choose is designed with real meat at the center of the recipe, ensuring that your dog is getting natural protein from their food.
This dog food also supports weight gain as it is designed with 34% protein, and no grain, wheat, fillers, or artificial ingredients.
It is a brilliant choice if you want to trial it with your dog before buying a big bag as it is available in 4lb, 12lb, and 22lb bags.
- Available in beef or chicken flavor to suit whatever taste your dog has.
- Provides natural protein from real chicken for ultimate health benefits
- Supports a strong body and weight gain with 34% protein
- Contains no grain, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients - all natural
- Available in 4lb, 12lb, and 22lb bags so you can buy in bulk and save money.
- Packed with the full meaty flavor which dogs can’t resist
- No notable drawbacks
Another excellent option is the Purina One Smartblend Dog Food.
This dog food is excellent at maintaining a healthy weight and is made with real turkey so that your dog gets access to natural protein.
It is packed with vitamins and nutrients to support your dog’s health, and also contains probiotics to support your dog’s immune system and muscles.
It is available in 8lb bags through to 40lb bags and is designed so that every ingredient has a purpose in helping your dog gain weight.
With all of this and its crunchy bite texture which encourages your dog to eat, it’s clear that this is one of the best options for weight gain.
- Made with real turkey for natural protein
- Packed with vitamins and nutrients for good health
- Supports a strong immune system and healthy muscles
- Crunchy bites to keep your dog coming back for more, typically they'll love this.
- Available in 8lb, 16lb, 31lb and 40lb bags
- Every ingredient is included to promote your dog’s health
- No notable drawbacks
We also love the Solid Gold High Protein Dog Food.
This comes in a unique flavor which is made of beef, egg, and peas to tickle every single one of your dog’s taste buds.
Additionally, it is both grain and gluten-free to ensure that your dog is only eating the best.
It is built with real meat which is supplemented with probiotics, and because of this.
It contains a whopping 41% of protein and 18% of fat which will get your dog gaining weight in no time.
With all of these great features, plus the fact that it is available in 4lb, 12lb, and 24lb bags, there’s no question that this is one of the best options available.
- Beef, egg, and pea flavor to tickle your dog’s taste buds
- Grain-free and gluten-free to promote good health in your dog
- Contains 41% crude protein and 18% fat to encourage weight gain
- Made with real meat and supplemented with probiotics
- Comes in 4lb, 12lb, or 24lb bags
- Supports a healthy and active lifestyle for your dog
- More expensive than some of its competitors
If your dog loves wet food, we recommend the ZiwiPeak Canned Wet Dog Food.
This is the only wet dog food on this list and is the stand out option if your dog prefers moist food.
This dog food comes in lamb flavor and contains real free-range lamb as its main ingredient.
It is produced in New Zealand, and 92% of its recipe is made up of real lamb, organs, and New Zealand muscles to give it extra taste.
Additionally, it includes Z-boost superfoods for a nutrition boost and better health in your dog.
With all of this, plus the fact that it is suitable for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds, this is effortlessly one of the best options available for weight gain.
- Free-range lamb flavor to encourage your dog to eat
- Comprised of 92% real meat, organs, and New Zealand muscles
- Includes Z-boost superfoods for a nutrition boost and better health
- Suitable for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds
- Comes in 1lb cans
- Can be used as a meal on its own or as a food topper
- Not available in a multipack of cans
Finally, we would suggest the Instinct Grain-Free Dry Food.
This dog food primarily contains USA raised beef which makes up 70% of the formula, the other 30% is made up of vegetables to provide your dog with a balanced diet.
It excludes all common allergens that might upset your dog’s stomach and instead contains freeze-dried bits that are packed with flavor to encourage your dog to eat more.
It is packed with natural protein and fat from its real meat ingredients which are guaranteed to help your dog gain weight and are available in both 4lb and 20lb bags.
With all this in mind, there’s no question that this is one of the best options available.
- Produced with USA raised beef
- Contains 70% animal ingredients and 30% vegetables for a balanced diet
- Excludes all common allergens including potato, corn, wheat, and soy
- Freeze-dried for ultimate freshness and taste with every bite
- Comes in 4lb or 20lb bags
- Made with real meat for natural protein
- Can sometimes cause loose stools
Best Dog Food to Gain Weight Buying Guide
As any dog owner knows, there appears to be an endless supply of dog food manufacturers currently on the market.
Every single day there is a new dog food available, and this can make it very hard to know which is best for your furbaby.
This can be made even more difficult if you are looking for dog food to support your dog’s weight because there are so many different options available.
We understand how overwhelming this can be, which is why we’ve put together this guide to the best dog food to gain weight.
The options that we have looked at above are some of the best available, but if you are still unsure, we’ve included this buyer’s guide to tell you even more about what to look for in dog food that will help your dog gain weight.
Reasons why your Dog may lose Weight
Throughout their life, the chances are that all dogs will lose weight at some point.
Just like human beings, your dog’s weight will fluctuate over time and it can be impacted by a variety of factors.
Clinically speaking, you should become concerned when your dog loses more than 10% of its ideal body weight.
In larger dogs, this allows them to lose a lot of weight before it becomes a concern, whereas a weight loss of just 1 pound can be dangerous in smaller dogs.
The scientific reason behind your dog losing weight is the same as the scientific reason that human beings lose weight, and it is because their daily calorie burn is higher than their daily calorie intake.
Sometimes dogs will go off of their food. They might turn their nose up at food that they normally love or simply eat nothing at all, and there are lots of different things that could cause this behavior change.
The way that dogs behave is heavily impacted by their environment, so if something has changed in your home this could impact the amount that they eat.
This could be something as minor as rearranging your furniture or bad weather preventing their walk. Alternatively, this could be something more major such as a death in the family.
But the reason that your dog stops eating could be something more serious.
Their weight loss and loss of appetite might be linked to an underlying health condition that has yet to be diagnosed, or something internally that is making them feel unwell.
So if your dog stops eating for more than a day, and interventions such as changing their food do not help, you should get in touch with your veterinarian in case the cause is something more serious. It is always best to be safe.
Ways to Encourage your Dog to Eat
If your dog is losing weight because they are not eating, simply changing their food will not be enough.
It is still important that you choose a dog food that is high in protein and other nutrients that will help your dog gain weight, however, you will still have to encourage your dog to eat that food.
Dogs can be stubborn when they want to be, so this is a lot harder than it sounds. That being said, there are some tips that you can follow to encourage your dog to eat more, let’s take a look at what they are.
One way that you encourage your dog to eat more is to change how you feed them.
So if you normally feed your dog larger meals less regularly, you could switch it up by feeding them smaller portions more regularly.
You could also try switching from dry food to wet food if your dog doesn’t seem to want to eat their usual food or vice versa.
Alternatively, you could also add a wet food topper to your dog’s dry food to encourage them to eat it.
Encouraging your dog to exercise has also proven successful in pushing them to eat as the exercise will burn calories and make them hungry.
Of course, you shouldn’t do this if your dog is severely underweight. But if they have just gone off of their food momentarily, this could be a good way to get them eating again.
Finally, supplementing your dog’s diet with snacks is a great way to encourage them to eat their own food.
Introducing a small amount of human food, such as eggs or beef in moderation can be a great way to get your dog’s appetite activated and encourage them to eat their own food.
Ingredients to Look For
As you will have seen in this guide, there are a lot of different dog food formulas that have been designed with weight gain in mind.
A lot of these manufacturers don’t like to say exactly what it is that helps dogs gain weight from their food as this could lead you to buy from a competitor.
But there are some key ingredients that you should look for when buying dog food for weight gain.
In particular, you should look for a high-quality dog food that has a high calorific value and also contains lots of fat and protein.
Both fat and protein provide your dog with energy in normal circumstances, but if your dog is underweight, this will also help them put on a few pounds.
All manufacturers have to list the different ingredients that are in their dog food on the packaging, and they usually give a percentage estimate of each food type that is in the formula.
For the best weight gain in your dog, you should look for a dog food that contains a high amount of protein, preferably 30% or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my dog is underweight?
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your dog is underweight, especially if your dog is one with very thick fur.
Ideally, for your dog to be an ideal weight, you should be able to see the outline of their waste when you look at them from above.
However, if you can visibly see your dog’s ribs then your dog is probably underweight.
The only exception to this rule is if your dog is a sighthound such as a greyhound or a whippet who has a naturally slim build.
Should I feed my dog wet or dry food?
There is no right answer to this question as ultimately the perfect dog food for your dog will depend on their preference.
Just like humans, dogs have different personalities and different things that they like and dislike.
So if your dog appears to like dry food, feed them that, or if your dog seems to prefer wet food, feed them that.
Can my dog eat human food?
While a lot of human food appears yummy to dogs, it is usually best to avoid feeding your dog human food.
Most human food is safe for your dog to eat in moderation, however, there are a lot of human foods that are toxic for dogs like chillies and spices.
It can be difficult to keep track of all the different foods that are poisonous, and even more difficult to know if the food that you have bought from the store contains any of these ingredients.
Due to this, it is best to just stick to feeding your dog food that has been designed for dogs.
Last update on 2023-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API