Last Updated: February 7, 2024 by Lisa Melillo
Weak immune system, lackluster coat, poor energy levels, weak muscles, and developmental problems – these are just among the many issues I’ve encountered in underweight dogs under my care.
Each case is a stark reminder that proper nutrition is critical to our canine friends. The challenge isn’t just in the visible signs of being underweight but in the myriad health risks lurking beneath the surface.
Finding the best dog food for weight gain isn’t just about filling their bowl with more food. It’s about figuring out what works best for each dog, getting the right mix of nutrients to help them not just put on weight but to get healthy and stay that way.
And let me tell you, seeing a dog bounce back from being underweight is just amazing. It’s more than watching them get a bit rounder; it’s about seeing them become their playful, happy selves again. That’s the real win – getting them to a place where they’re not just eating, but thriving.
Top Choice: Orijen Original Dry Dog Food
If you’re on the hunt for dog food that adds extra weight, Orijen Original Dry Dog Food might just be your answer. This top-notch formula is rich in proteins and crafted with natural, high-quality ingredients, perfectly aligning with a dog’s dietary needs. It’s specially designed to not only help your pooch gain those necessary pounds but to do so in a way that’s healthy and balanced.
Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
1. Orijen Original Dry Dog Food
- Biologically appropriate formula
- Rich in protein from animal sources
- Includes whole prey ingredients
- Grain-free recipe
- Contains no artificial preservatives
In my time with dogs, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of top-notch ingredients in their diet, and that’s exactly what Orijen Original Dry Dog Food delivers. It kicks off with fresh, free-run chicken and turkey, offering a protein-packed start that’s essential for dogs needing to bulk up. It echoes what dogs would naturally eat – rich, varied meats loaded with nutrients.
This formula is a game-changer for pups needing to put on some healthy weight. It’s loaded with whole prey ingredients, giving dogs not just muscle-building protein, but also essential vitamins and minerals in their most natural forms. Grain-free and free of artificial preservatives, it’s all about giving dogs what their bodies instinctively crave. Since I’ve started recommending it, I’ve seen remarkable transformations in dogs – they don’t just gain weight; they gain a new lease on life, full of vitality and health.
- Supports strong lean muscles
- Aids in healthy weight gain
- Suitable for all life stages
- Promotes better digestion
- Helps maintain high energy levels
- Strengthens the immune system
- Can leave some dogs with bad breath
- Might make dogs gassy
2. Ziwi Peak Orignal Series Mackerel & Lamb Recipe
- Whole Mackerel
- Air-dried to preserve nutrients
- Contains 96% whole seafood, lamb, and organs
- Ethically sourced ingredients
- Z-Boost Superfoods for enhanced nutritional profile
When it comes to helping dogs put on a healthy amount of weight, the Ziwi Peak Original Series Mackerel & Lamb Recipe is a standout. This food begins with premium New Zealand mackerel and lamb, offering a high-calorie, nutrient-dense meal. Its unique air-drying process not only preserves the raw nutrients but also eliminates pathogenic bacteria, making it safe and bursting with flavor.
This recipe is particularly beneficial for weight gain due to its high content of Omega fatty acids, which promote not just weight but also healthy skin and a lustrous coat. The absence of grains, sugars, and glycerin means it’s all about pure, wholesome goodness. In my experience, dogs not only enjoy the taste but also visibly thrive, gaining weight in a healthy, balanced manner. It’s a product that brings together the best of raw feeding and convenience.
- Easy to digest
- Supports joint health and mobility
- Boosts overall immunity
- Ideal for sensitive stomachs
- Promotes lean muscle growth
- The strong fish smell may be off-putting
- Limited protein variety
3. Bully Max 30/20 High Protein & Fat Dog Food, Chicken Blend
- Chicken Meal
- High protein content (30%) for muscle development
- Elevated fat content (20%) for energy
- No artificial preservatives or flavors
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals for overall health
Bully Max 30/20 really hits the spot for dogs needing an extra calorie kick, whether it’s to bulk up or fuel their high-octane lifestyle. Let’s talk about its star ingredient, real chicken. It’s not just about winning the taste test; it’s a powerhouse of high-quality protein, crucial for building lean muscle. This is especially great for the leaner pups or the ones who are always on the move.
And here’s a key fact: it packs a hefty 535 calories per cup, making it a calorie-dense choice for weight gain.
In my hands-on experience, dogs not only love the flavor, but they also thrive on the nutritional benefits. The higher fat content is like an energy bar for dogs – it gives them that extra zing they need for their active days. I’ve seen dogs switch to this and the transformation is noticeable. They get more muscular, more energetic. It’s suitable for all dog breeds and ages, aiding in healthy weight management.
- Enhances muscle strength and endurance
- Boosts energy levels for active dogs
- Promotes a shiny and healthy coat
- Easily digestible ingredients
- Higher price point than some other brands
- Requires transition from other foods to avoid digestive issues
4. Crave Premium Adult Dog Food, Whitefish & Salmon
- White Fish
- High-quality fish proteins for lean muscle development
- Grain-free formula for better digestion
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health
- No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein
- Includes essential vitamins and minerals
Crave Premium Adult Dog Food, featuring Whitefish and Salmon, is a top-notch choice for dogs needing a nutrient-rich diet to gain weight healthily. The blend of whitefish and salmon provides high-quality protein, which is key for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. The grain-free formula is a boon for dogs with sensitive stomachs, making it easier for them to digest and absorb nutrients effectively.
My experience with Crave has been impressive. Dogs not only enjoy the fish flavor, but they also benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to a shiny coat and healthy skin. This food is a well-rounded meal, providing the necessary energy and nutrition for active and growing dogs. It’s also an excellent choice for dogs with dietary sensitivities or preferences for fish over poultry or meat-based proteins.
- High in protein for muscle growth and repair
- Grain-free for easy digestion
- Suitable for dogs with food sensitivities
- Fish-based protein is a novel protein source for many dogs
- The flavor of fish can be too strong for some dogs
- Kibble size is too small for large dogs
5. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Beef
- Combines high-protein kibble with freeze-dried raw beef
- Includes live, natural probiotics
- Rich in omega fatty acids
Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Beef really ups the game for dogs that need to pack on some pounds or just crave a bit more excitement in their bowl. Imagine this: crunchy kibble combined with succulent freeze-dried raw beef. It’s a protein-packed feast, perfect for building muscle and putting on weight in a healthy way. The star here is real beef, offering top-notch protein that’s essential for dogs who need more than just your average kibble.
Having seen plenty of bowls licked clean, I can vouch for its popularity among the canine crowd. What makes it stand out is the raw boost – dogs seem to go wild for it. It’s like tapping into their primal instincts. And it’s not just tasty; it’s smart. The grain-free formula is a godsend for sensitive stomachs, and those added probiotics do wonders for gut health. Plus, the omega fatty acids? They’re like a spa treatment for their coat and skin.
- Eases digestion, especially for sensitive stomachs
- Enhances gastrointestinal health with active probiotics
- Contributes to a glossy coat and supple skin
- Ideal for dogs prone to dietary allergies
- Encourages natural eating behaviors with raw ingredients
- Requires careful storage to maintain freshness of raw pieces
- Some dogs may need time to adjust to the raw component
6. Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula
- High protein (30%) and fat (20%) for energy and muscle building
- Contains rice for easily digestible carbohydrates
- Fortified with live probiotics
- Rich in antioxidants
Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula is a stellar choice for dogs that need a nutritional boost for weight gain or sustained energy. The real chicken at its core provides high-quality protein, essential for muscle building and repair. What’s great about this formula is how it combines protein with easily digestible rice, offering a balanced approach to weight gain.
Having worked with various dog diets, I’ve seen how this formula can be a game-changer. It’s particularly effective for active dogs or those struggling to maintain a healthy weight. The inclusion of probiotics is a thoughtful touch, aiding in digestion and bolstering the immune system. The antioxidants add another layer of health benefits, supporting the immune system.
- Supports lean muscle mass and healthy weight gain
- Easy on the stomach, ideal for dogs with sensitivities
- Boosts digestive health with live probiotics
- Strengthens the immune system with antioxidants
- Suitable for highly active and working dogs
- Potential allergen concern for dogs sensitive to poultry
- Gradual introduction recommended to adapt to high energy content
7. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Dog Food
- Herring Meal
- Rich in high-quality fish proteins
- Grain-free and gluten-free
- Packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Includes fruits and vegetables for natural nutrients
It offers a unique approach to canine nutrition, ideal for dogs in need of weight gain or those with a taste for seafood. The herring meal, the top ingredient, is a high-quality protein source, perfect for building muscle in a healthy, lean way. This grain-free, gluten-free formula is a lifesaver for pups with sensitive stomachs or food allergies, ensuring they get all the goodness without any digestive drama.
It’s not just about protein; it’s a blend of natural fruits and vegetables, providing a spectrum of nutrients. Dogs seem to enjoy the taste, and the omega fatty acids do wonders for their coat and skin health.
- Natural ingredients for holistic nutrition
- Suitable for all life stages and breeds
- Great taste that appeals to most dogs
- Supports a healthy immune system
- The high fish content might produce a strong odor
- It might lead to quicker spoilage if not stored properly due to its natural ingredients
8. Acana Butcher’s Favorites Dry Dog Food, Free-Run Chicken & Liver Recipe
- High-quality animal ingredients (free-run chicken and liver)
- Includes whole prey ratios for a nutrient-dense formula
- Contains fresh and raw regional ingredients
- Biologically appropriate diet mimicking a dog’s natural diet
Acana Butcher’s Favorites Dry Dog Food with its Free-Run Chicken & Liver Recipe is a feast for canines looking to gain weight or maintain a healthy physique. This food stands out with its premium animal ingredients, including free-run chicken and liver, offering not just high-quality protein but a flavor that dogs instinctively love. It’s formulated to mimic a dog’s natural diet, which is a big plus for health and digestion.
It’s particularly impressive for its whole prey ratios, ensuring dogs get all the necessary nutrients just as they would in the wild. This approach to dog food is not just about feeding; it’s about nourishing. And the dogs? It’s satisfying, nutritious, and, most importantly, it aligns with their natural eating habits.
- Aids in muscle maintenance and overall body condition
- Offers a varied and palatable taste experience
- Supports a healthy gut environment
- Tailored for dogs’ evolutionary dietary needs
- Ideal for all life stages, from puppy to senior
- The dense nutritional profile may increase thirst in some dogs
- Not for dog owners on a budget
9. NutriSource Small and Medium Breed Puppy Dog Food, Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe
- Chicken Meal
- Exclusive Good 4 Life System for optimal health benefits
- Balanced blend of protein (chicken meal) and carbohydrates (rice)
- Digestion-friendly with the inclusion of prebiotics and probiotics
- Free from wheat, soy, and artificial additives
This food is a great foundation for puppies, focusing on balanced nutrition that supports their rapid growth phase. The chicken meal provides high-quality protein, crucial for developing strong muscles, while the rice offers digestible carbohydrates for sustained energy.
The addition of DHA is a smart move, as it’s vital for brain and eye development. This food also takes into account the sensitive digestive systems of young dogs, with prebiotics and probiotics to support gut health. It’s a thoughtful blend that ensures puppies not only enjoy their meals but also receive all the necessary nutrients for a healthy start in life.
- Ideal for the growth needs of small and medium breed puppies
- Supports cognitive and visual development
- Gentle on puppy digestive systems
- Promotes a strong immune system
- Chicken meal as the primary protein might not appeal to all puppies
- The kibble size may be challenging for very young puppies to handle
10. Fromm Puppy Gold Premium Dog Food
- Premium animal protein from duck, chicken, and lamb
- Includes wholesome grains for balanced energy
- Formulated specifically for puppies, including those of larger breeds
- Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals
The mix of duck, chicken, and lamb offers a rich protein source that’s vital for growing pups. I’ve seen firsthand how this blend supports not just weight gain, but also healthy development. It’s a fantastic choice for those little ones who need a bit of extra help bulking up, especially larger breed pups who have a lot of growing to do.
I’m impressed with how it balances protein with wholesome grains. It’s not just about packing on pounds; it’s about doing it the right way. The probiotics included in the formula are ideal for young, sensitive tummies, making it easier for them to digest and absorb all the good stuff. It’s got everything a growing puppy needs to get a great start in life, both in terms of health and flavor.
- Ideal for steady and healthy weight gain in puppies
- Supports muscle development and overall growth
- Digestive support makes it great for puppies with sensitive stomachs
- Balanced nutrition for a strong start in life
- The variety of proteins caters to a puppy’s taste
- Higher price point as a premium dog food brand
- The inclusion of grains might not be ideal for grain-sensitive pups
11. Wellness Core Grain-Free Senior Dog Food, Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal Recipe
- Deboned Turkey
- Specially formulated for senior dogs with a grain-free recipe
- High-quality proteins including deboned turkey, chicken meal, and turkey meal
- Enhanced with glucosamine and chondroitin
- Rich in antioxidants, taurine, and omega fatty acids
When it comes to our senior furry friends, finding the right food that helps them keep a healthy weight can be a bit of a puzzle. That’s where Wellness Core Grain-Free Senior Dog Food comes in. It’s packed with deboned turkey, chicken meal, and turkey meal, which is just what older dogs need to maintain their muscle mass. And let’s face it, as our pups get on in years, keeping them at a healthy weight becomes super important.
I’ve seen quite a few senior dogs perk up on this diet. The glucosamine and chondroitin are a big plus for those creaky joints. I’ve noticed that dogs on this diet seem more comfortable during their walks, which is a huge relief for any pet parent. Plus, the fact that it’s grain-free means it’s easier on their older, sometimes more sensitive tummies.
- Tailored for the specific nutritional needs of senior dogs
- Promotes healthy weight and muscle maintenance
- Joint support ingredients beneficial for aging dogs
- Supports heart health and overall vitality
- Grain-free for seniors with sensitive digestion
- Premium ingredients result in a higher cost
- Kibble size and texture might be challenging for dogs with dental issues
12. Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 Sport Adult Dry Dog Food
- 30% high-quality protein and 20% fat for optimal performance
- Tailored for athletic and working dogs
- Enhanced with 3D DentaDefense system for dental health
- Contains natural fibers and prebiotics
Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 Sport Adult Dry Dog Food steps up to the plate for dogs needing that extra edge in weight gain, particularly for those with a sporty or active lifestyle.
During my experience with different dog foods, I’ve noticed that Eukanuba Premium Performance is a standout, especially for underweight dogs who are also quite active. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone – aiding in healthy weight gain while keeping up with their energetic needs. The blend of chicken provides the high-quality protein necessary for building muscle, not just mass. And the added bonus? The 3D DentaDefense system keeps their teeth in great shape, which is a big deal for overall health.
- Ideal for supporting high energy needs and endurance
- Nutrient-rich for sustained performance
- Digestive support keeps tummy troubles at bay
- Delivers consistent, high-quality energy
- A specific focus on athletic dogs might not cater to all dietary needs
- May be less suitable for senior dogs with lower energy requirements
Identifying Underweight Dogs
Maintaining a healthy canine weight is as crucial as it is for us humans. Identifying an underweight dog is not just about aesthetics; it’s about their health and well-being. As someone who’s seen various cases, I can tell you that understanding the signs and risks of being underweight is key to providing the best care for these pups.
Signs and Symptoms of an Underweight Dog
In my day-to-day work, I often come across dogs that are visibly underweight. Here’s what I look out for:
- Visible Ribs, Spine, and Hips: The most obvious sign is when you can easily see a dog’s ribs, spine, and hips. Unlike in some breeds where this is normal, in others, it’s a clear indication that they’re not at a healthy weight.
- Lack of Muscle Mass: It’s not just about being thin. An underweight dog often shows a significant lack of muscle mass, especially in areas where they should be more robust, like the shoulders or hind legs.
- Low Energy Levels: A decrease in energy is another telltale sign. These dogs often don’t have the same zest for play or exercise as they should.
- Dull, Coarse Coat: Nutrition affects a dog’s coat. An underweight dog’s coat often loses its shine and feels rough or brittle.
- Visible Signs of Illness: Sometimes, weight loss is a symptom of a larger health issue. This could be anything from digestive problems to more serious conditions.
Health Risks Associated with Being Underweight
The risks associated with being underweight in dogs are serious and, in some cases, life-threatening:
- Weakened Immune System: A lack of essential nutrients can severely weaken a dog’s immune system, leaving them vulnerable to a host of diseases and infections.
- Bone and Joint Issues: Proper nutrition is vital for bone and joint health. Underweight dogs, especially larger breeds, can suffer from various bone and joint problems.
- Growth Development Issues in Puppies: This is particularly close to my heart. Puppies that don’t get adequate nutrition can face developmental delays. It’s crucial they receive a balanced diet for their growth and overall health.
- Decreased Strength and Stamina: Underweight dogs often lack the necessary strength and stamina. This not only affects their ability to play and exercise but also impacts their overall quality of life.
- Potential for Organ Failure: In the worst cases, prolonged undernourishment can lead to organ failure. This is a critical condition that requires immediate veterinary intervention.
Factors Contributing to Weight Issues
Over the years, I’ve learned that several factors can contribute to a dog being underweight, and understanding these is key to helping them reach a healthy weight.
I’ve come across dogs that, no matter how much they eat, just can’t seem to put on weight. Often, this can be traced back to metabolic issues, like hyperthyroidism. These conditions can ramp up a dog’s metabolism, burning off calories faster than they can consume them. It’s like having an internal engine that’s always running on high.
Then there are breed-specific traits. Some breeds are naturally slimmer and more active. For instance, working breeds like Border Collies or sighthounds like Greyhounds have a different body composition. They’re built for speed and endurance, not for carrying extra weight. It’s in their genes, and that’s something we need to consider when assessing their body condition.
Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors have varying nutritional needs. Senior dogs, in particular, can be a challenge. They might lose weight due to a decrease in appetite or their bodies becoming less efficient at absorbing nutrients. It’s like as they age, their dietary requirements shift, and we need to adapt to that.
I’ve seen dogs lose weight due to dental issues – it’s painful for them to eat, so they don’t. Then there are more serious conditions like cancer or heart disease, which can lead to significant weight loss. It’s heartbreaking but highlights the importance of regular health checks.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Weight Gain
Picking the right dog food for weight gain is more than just grabbing the highest-calorie bag off the shelf. It’s about understanding what makes up those calories and how they’ll impact your dog’s health.
Assessing Nutritional Needs
The first step is assessing your dog’s specific needs. This includes considering their current weight, activity level, any underlying health conditions, and their general health status. It’s like solving a puzzle – each piece provides information that helps determine the best diet for your dog.
High-Quality Protein Sources
Protein is the building block of muscle, and for weight gain, it’s essential. I always recommend looking for dog foods with high-quality protein sources like whole meats (chicken, beef, fish). These sources not only help with muscle development but also ensure that the weight gained is healthy and sustainable.
Appropriate Fat Content
Fat is a dense source of energy, and a higher fat content can be beneficial for weight gain. However, it’s important to look for healthy fats, like those from fish oils or animal fats, which provide the energy needed without the risk of unhealthy weight gain.
While protein and fat are key, carbohydrates play a role too. They provide energy and help with digestion. Look for whole grains or vegetables as carbohydrate sources, rather than fillers like corn or soy.
Avoiding Unnecessary Additives
I steer clear of foods with excessive additives, artificial colors, or preservatives. These can cause digestive issues and don’t contribute to healthy weight gain.
The digestibility of the food is crucial. Highly digestible food ensures that your dog is absorbing as many nutrients as possible. This is particularly important for dogs that might be underweight due to digestive issues.
Palatability and Taste
Let’s face it, if your dog doesn’t like the taste of the food, they’re not going to eat it. Palatability is key. Sometimes, it’s a bit of trial and error to find a flavor and texture that your dog enjoys.
Consultation with a Veterinarian
Finally, consulting with a veterinarian is always a good step. They can provide insights based on your dog’s individual health needs and might suggest specific dog foods or supplements that could help.
Recommended Feeding Practices for Weight Gain
Over my years of working with dogs, I’ve picked up a few strategies that are effective in supporting healthy weight gain. Here’s what I recommend:
Divide Meals into Smaller, More Frequent Portions
One of the most effective changes you can make is to switch from two larger meals to several smaller ones throughout the day. This approach helps in a couple of ways. First, it can prevent your dog from feeling overly full, which is especially important for those with smaller appetites. Second, it provides a steady stream of nutrients and energy, which can be more effective for weight gain.
Include High-Calorie, Nutrient-Rich Foods
Introducing high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods can also help. This doesn’t mean just feeding your dog more food. Instead, it’s about adding calorie-rich ingredients that also offer nutritional benefits. For example, you might add a spoonful of cottage cheese, cooked egg, or a vet-recommended supplement to their regular meals. These additions can provide extra calories and essential nutrients without the need for larger portions.
Gradually Introduce New Foods
If you’re changing your dog’s diet to a higher-calorie food, it’s important to do it gradually. Sudden changes can disrupt their digestion. Start by mixing the new food with their current one, gradually increasing the amount of the new food over a week or so. This helps their system adjust without causing upset.
Monitor and Adjust as Needed
Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight and body condition, adjusting their diet as needed. It can be helpful to maintain a feeding diary, noting down what and how much you’re feeding, along with any changes in weight or health. This record can be invaluable for tracking progress and making informed adjustments over time.
Consistency is Key
Finally, consistency in feeding times and amounts can make a big difference. Dogs thrive on routine, and a consistent feeding schedule can help ensure they’re receiving the right amount of food regularly. This regularity can be especially beneficial for dogs who are underweight, helping them to gain weight at a healthy, steady pace.
Frequently Asked Questions
What role does diet play in weight gain for dogs?
Diet plays a crucial role in weight gain. A diet rich in high-quality protein and fat, with a balanced blend of other nutrients, is essential for healthy weight gain. However, it’s not just about quantity; it’s about the quality of the calories.
Can I feed my dog more to help them gain weight?
While increasing food quantity can help, it’s important to do it in a controlled manner. Overfeeding can lead to unhealthy weight gain and other health issues. Consult your vet for guidance on portion sizes.
Should I consider supplements for weight gain?
Supplements can be helpful, but it’s essential to consult with your vet before adding any to your dog’s diet. They can recommend appropriate supplements and ensure they won’t negatively interact with your dog’s health.
How long does it take for a dog to gain a healthy amount of weight?
Healthy weight gain is gradual and varies from dog to dog. It may take several weeks to a few months to see significant changes. Patience and consistency are key.
How can I make dog food more appealing to my underweight dog?
If your dog is a picky eater, try experimenting with different foods and textures to find what they enjoy. Adding small amounts of high-value treats or mixing in canned food can entice them to eat.
Is wet dog food or dry dog food better for weight gain?
Both wet and dry dog food can be suitable for weight gain, depending on your dog’s preferences and dietary needs. Some dogs may find wet food more palatable, while others may thrive on dry food. Consult with your vet to determine the best option for your dog.
Orijen Original Dry Dog Food emerges as a clear favorite when it comes to the best dog food for weight gain. It’s a carefully crafted nutrition powerhouse, ideal for dogs needing to add healthy pounds. I’m particularly impressed by its alignment with a dog’s natural eating habits, offering a balance that’s not just about weight gain, but about enhancing overall health and vitality. It resonates with my philosophy of feeding dogs in a way that’s true to their nature.
Diving into the broader picture of dog nutrition, it’s clear that every dog is a unique story. From my years with canine companions, I’ve seen how the right food can write a whole new chapter in a dog’s life. It’s more than just a meal; it’s about understanding and catering to their individual needs. Whether your goal is weight gain or overall health, remember, the key lies in a diet that’s tailored to your dog’s specific story. It’s a journey of nourishing not just their bodies but their spirits, ensuring each wagging tail and bright-eyed look is a testament to a well-fed, well-loved life.