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The 9 Best Dog Foods For Weight Gain In 2024

We often hear about canine obesity and dog food that might help our dogs lose weight. Given that an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are hefty, there's a solid explanation for it.

But what if your dog has the inverse issue? Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge for some dogs, and weight gain may be necessary after an illness.

For some dogs, gaining a few pounds is as simple as feeding them more. You may sometimes get away with giving your dog a little extra food.

Some dogs may require more assistance in gaining weight, as they may have a higher activity level or other factors that affect their weight.

If this sounds similar, you may require dog food that promotes weight gain. BestForPets assembled some reviews of the best dog foods for weight gain to help you choose the ideal one.

icon Vet Approved
icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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See our top choices for 2023 in a nutshell.

Image Product View on Amazon
1 CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food View on Amazon
2 Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food, SPORT Active 26/16 Formula Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food, SPORT Active 26/16 Formula View on Amazon
3 Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe with Real Chicken Natural Dry Cat Food Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe with Real Chicken Natural Dry Cat Food View on Amazon
4 Purina Pro Plan High Energy, High Protein Dog Food Purina Pro Plan High Energy, High Protein Dog Food View on Amazon
5 Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Dog Food Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Dog Food View on Amazon
6 Adirondack Puppy Food for Puppies and Performance Dogs Made in USA Adirondack Puppy Food for Puppies and Performance Dogs Made in USA View on Amazon
7 ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Dog Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Dog Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free View on Amazon
8 Wellness CORE Natural Wet Grain Free Canned Dog Food Wellness CORE Natural Wet Grain Free Canned Dog Food View on Amazon
9 Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free Dog Food, Great Plains Red Recipe Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free Dog Food, Great Plains Red Recipe View on Amazon

Reviews

1. Crave Grain-Free Real Chicken Dog Food

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food

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Our top pick for the best all-purpose dog food for weight gain is Crave Real Chicken Grain-free Dog Food .

This grain-free, high-protein meal is inspired by the traditional diet of wild dogs and contains animal-based proteins and protein-rich vegetables to supplement your dog’s diet. It is suitable for picky eaters, with 34% protein and 17% fat to satisfy their natural craving for animal protein.

Additionally, it is free from corn, wheat, and soy, making it ideal for canines with sensitive stomachs or those recovering from illness.

This dog food is appropriate for all dog breeds and sizes, but extra-large dogs that eat quickly and don’t chew their food should be monitored to prevent choking.

Crave High Protein Adult Grain-Free with Chicken Protein and All-Natural Dog Food provides necessary energy for canines with grain-free carbohydrate sources such as legumes.

Made with high-quality animal protein and meaty flavor, this 22-pound bag of dog food is specially formulated for small to large adult dogs, providing a nutritious and tasty meal.

Pros

High in protein and fat

Grain-free

Suitable for dogs of all sizes

Cons

Kibble in little chunks


2. Pro Plan Sport Purina

Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Sport  offers various dog food options suitable for all life stages, and their Active 26/16 Formula is the best choice for active dogs to maintain their weight and energy levels.

This recipe contains 26% protein and 16% fat, providing sufficient protein for optimal body condition. It also contains essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and glucosamine to support joint health.

This dog food is an excellent option for dogs that need to gain weight as it promotes lean muscle mass instead of empty nutrients.

Made with chicken as the primary ingredient, Purina Pro Plan Sport Active 26/16 Formula is rich in antioxidants to support a healthy immune system, ensuring that your active dog remains healthy and robust.

The kibble is specially designed for larger dogs, and the chunk size is larger to meet their requirements. For smaller dogs, a recipe designed for their breed may be more suitable to maintain their ideal weight.

This 37.5-pound bag of dog food is a high-quality option that promotes your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Please note that the SPORT Active 26/16 Formula will soon have a new appearance and name, and you may receive either bag during the transition.

Pros

High protein and fat content

Glucosamine is included for joint health.

Encourages the development of lean muscular mass

Cons

Kibble in large chunks


3. Premium Choice: Grain-Free Instinct Raw Boost Recipe

Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe with Real Chicken Natural Dry Cat Food

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If you’re looking for high-quality dog food to help your picky eater maintain a healthy weight, Instinct Raw Boost may be the answer.

Made with cage-free duck and poultry, this grain-free meal has a protein-to-fat ratio of 47% protein and 17% fat, making it an excellent option for dogs requiring a high-protein diet.

As a freeze-dried raw meal, Instinct Raw Boost is nutritious and appetizing for dogs. However, raw meat may cause stomach irritation for dogs not accustomed to it, and the smell can be a concern for pet owners. It is best to store it in a container with a secure seal to prevent the entire house from smelling like dog food.

While Instinct Raw Boost is a great source of nutrition for dogs, it may result in leftover food. Some dogs may prefer raw portions, causing them to leave kibble on their plate.

This grain-free, high-protein dog food is suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes and contains probiotics for healthy digestion and omegas for skin and coat health.

It’s an excellent option for pet owners who want only the best for their furry companions, as it’s made in the United States with the finest ingredients from around the globe.

Pros

Extremely high protein-to-fat ratio

Grain-free

Cons

Expensive

Picky dogs may squander a lot of food as a result


4. Purina Pro Plan 30/20 Performance

Purina Pro Plan High Energy, High Protein Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20  is an excellent option for pet owners seeking high-quality dog food that promotes healthy weight gain.

With a protein-to-fat ratio of 30/20, this dog food is an excellent option for dogs that need to gain weight quickly.

Made with salmon, corn gluten, brewer’s rice, and animal fat, Purina Pro Plan Performance is loaded with high-quality protein and healthy fats to aid in healthy weight gain.

It’s fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to promote digestive and immune health, making it an excellent option for dogs recovering from illness.

Purina Pro Plan Performance is formulated to optimize oxygen metabolism (VO2 MAX), enhancing your dog’s endurance and stamina, making it an ideal diet for active dogs.

The antioxidants in this dog food also help to regenerate your dog’s immune system, allowing them to regain vitality more quickly.

It’s important to note that this dog food may not be suitable for low-energy dogs as long-term consumption may result in unhealthy weight gain and obesity.

This 33-pound bag of dog food is a high-energy, high-protein, nutritious, and tasty option for pet owners seeking to promote healthy weight gain in their dogs.

Although previously known as SPORT Performance 30/20 Salmon and Rice Formula, Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 still provides pet owners with the same excellent nutrition they have come to expect from Purina Pro Plan.

Pros

The ideal short-term weight-gain solution

Excellent option for dogs recuperating from sickness

Cons

Not intended for long-term feeding


5. Holistic Coastal Catch from Earthborn

Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Dog Food

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Earthborn Holistic's Coastal Catch dog food  is an excellent grain-free alternative that uses seafood as the primary ingredient, making it a high-protein option for canines with sensitive stomachs.

This dog food contains L-carnitine and glucosamine to support your dog’s overall health, as well as a nutritional blend of flaxseed, blueberries, and cranberries to aid in digestion and nutrient assimilation, ensuring that your dog receives a complete and balanced diet.

Although appropriate for all life stages, including large breeds, it’s important to note that Earthborn Holistic previously issued a recall due to Salmonella contamination.

The recall has since been resolved, but it’s recommended to check the manufacturing date on the package before purchasing.

This dog food is formulated without grains, gluten, and white potatoes, making it an ideal option for canines with dietary sensitivities.

Earthborn Holistic is proudly produced in family-owned, fourth-generation American kitchens and collaborates with TerraCycle to make its sacks 100 percent recyclable.

In conclusion, Earthborn Holistic’s Coastal Catch dog food is a high-quality and nutritious option for pet owners seeking to provide their canines with a balanced diet.

This dog food is an excellent option for canines of all ages and sizes due to its fish protein, nutritional blend, and heart-healthy ingredients.

Pros

High-protein

Excellent for sensitive stomachs

Cons

Recalled due to salmonella


6. High-Protein, High-Fat Adirondack Recipe

Adirondack Puppy Food for Puppies and Performance Dogs Made in USA

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Adirondack High-Protein High-Fat Recipe  is an excellent option for pet owners who want to help their underweight canines gain weight in a healthy way.

This dog food is specially formulated for high-performance canines and puppies, with a protein-to-fat ratio of 30/20 that’s ideal for weight gain.

Adirondack Pet Food is a family-owned company that produces all of its dog food products in the United States using only the highest quality ingredients.

This slow-cooked dog food is prepared in small quantities to maximize flavor and nutrient retention, providing superior nutrition for your companion.

Adirondack High-Protein High-Fat Recipe is nutritionally complete and balanced for all dog breeds and sizes, but the feeding chart only suggests feedings for canines up to 80 pounds.

Extra-large breeds weighing over 80 pounds may not be able to handle this dog food’s high protein and fat content. Long-term consumption of this product may not be advisable and should be kept in mind.

This dog food does not contain any artificial flavors or additives, corn, wheat, soy, potatoes, or artificial colors. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from flaxseed and menhaden fish oil promote healthy skin and coat.

The inclusion of pearled barley ensures that your dog receives a complete and balanced diet by enhancing cardiovascular function and insulin sensitivity.

Adirondack Pet Food has been developing ultra-premium cat and dog food formulas for three generations, ensuring their pets’ happiness, health, and vitality.

You can rely on this premium dog food to provide your companion with wholesome nutrients that they will enjoy and that will leave you both satisfied.

Pros

Protein-to-fat ratio as advised by veterinarians

Cons

Large breed dogs are not permitted

Except in high-energy dogs, it is not suitable for long-term feeding


7. Recipe for Ziwi Peak Beef

 ZIWI Peak Canned Wet Dog Food

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Incorporating moist food into a dog’s diet can be an effective way to promote weight gain while minimizing the risk of digestive issues and introducing restricted nutrients.

However, it is crucial to choose a high-quality moist food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs.

Ziwi Peak is a premium wet dog food containing bovine organ meat, beef lung, beef kidney, and beef tripe.

This dog food is made up of 92% free-range lamb, organs, bone, and New Zealand green mussels in an authentic whole-prey ratio. It is an irresistible, meaty pâté that even the pickiest of canines will find appealing.

Ziwi Peak is a grain-free, low-carb, limited ingredient diet (L.I.D.) premium dog food that is ideal for canines with dietary sensitivities. It does not contain inexpensive additives such as grains, potatoes, or legumes, which are associated with obesity, food allergies, and other health issues.

Instead, it contains holistic ingredients such as cold-washed green tripe, New Zealand green mussels, and organic kelp, which aid in digestion, skin and coat health, joint health, inflammation reduction, and heart and brain health.

This moist dog food can be used as a nutritional supplement or as a complete meal for optimal nutrition and health. It is suitable for puppies to senior dogs, including both small and large breeds.

Ziwi sources only free-range, grass-fed, grass-finished meats and wild-caught seafood from New Zealand’s unspoiled farms and oceans.

The meats are raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics, or growth promoters, making them an ethical and environmentally responsible option for pet owners who care about animal and environmental welfare.

It is important to note that the high protein levels in Ziwi Peak may not be suitable for all dogs and can cause digestive issues.

Additionally, it is quite expensive, so it may not be the most cost-effective option as your dog’s primary source of nutrition; it may be more cost-effective as a supplement to conventional kibble.

Overall, Ziwi Peak provides complete and balanced nutrition for canines of all life stages.

Pros

High-protein

The primary ingredient is animal protein

Excellent for weight gain

Cons

Expensive

Very wealthy


8. Grain-Free Wellness CORE Canned Dog Food

Wellness CORE Natural Wet Grain Free Canned Dog Food

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Wellness CORE moist dog food is a natural, grain-free dog food that is rich in premium protein, vegetables, and essential nutrients for your dog’s optimal health.

This adult dog food contains 95% animal protein and 5% vegetables, making it an excellent choice for building lean muscle mass and improving muscle tone.

Wellness CORE canned dog food contains no fillers, by-products, or artificial additives, making it a great option for pet owners who prefer to feed their canines a natural diet.

The recipe includes real turkey and chicken, making it a complete and balanced source of nutrition for your companion. The pâté’s smooth texture and irresistible flavor will make your dog crave more.

Wellness CORE canned dog food adheres to the nutritional principle that dogs thrive on a natural diet primarily made up of meat. The high-quality protein derived from turkey and chicken helps promote leaner body mass and improved muscle tone in dogs.

This dog food is free from grains, poultry by-products, wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, and preservatives. To ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your dog, all ingredients are natural, non-GMO, and selected for their nutritional benefits.

The packaging of this dog food is a point of contention for many customers. To open Wellness CORE wet dog food cans, a can opener is required since they do not have pop-top closures.

Additionally, the cans are smaller than those of conventional moist dog food, containing 12.5 oz of food instead of 13 oz, which should be taken into account when comparing prices.

The high amount of liquid in Wellness CORE wet dog food cans may make it unappetizing to some dogs, as well as its watery consistency.

Overall, Wellness CORE wet dog food is a premium natural dog food that provides adult dogs with complete and balanced nutrition.

It is made in the United States with only the best globally-sourced ingredients and is a great choice for pet owners looking to feed their dogs a natural, healthy diet.

Pros

Protein content is 95%

Encourages the development of lean muscular mass

100% natural ingredients

Cons

It is difficult to open

There is less food per can than in most wet foods

Cans contain a large amount of liquid


9. Merrick Backcountry Raw Great Plains Red Freeze-Dried Recipe

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain Free Dog Food

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Merrick Backcountry  is an excellent choice if you are looking for a freeze-dried raw option for your dog that needs to gain weight or is underweight.

It is especially beneficial for dogs that need extra calories because it has a good protein-to-fat ratio and a moderate carbohydrate content.

Merrick Backcountry freeze-dried kibble contains raw beef pieces, dehydrated fruits, and veggies. Although your dog may enjoy the tasty morsels, it may not finish the remaining kibble.

Meals that include especially delicious components often encounter this problem.

The raw freeze-dried content of Merrick Backcountry contributes to its high price compared to regular kibble. The need for multiple 15-pound bags can make it an impractical and expensive option for larger dogs.

This unique dog food, Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dog Food, combines freeze-dried raw coated dry dog food with real freeze-dried raw dog food to create a high-protein option for dogs.

The first ingredient is deboned beef, which helps dogs maintain healthy musculature and energy levels. This grain-free dry dog food contains freeze-dried raw dog food for healthy skin and coat, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy hips and joints.

Overall, Merrick Backcountry is a premium freeze-dried raw dog food that provides adult dogs with complete and balanced nutrition.

It may be more expensive than standard kibble, but it is an excellent option for pet owners who want to feed their underweight or weight-gaining dogs a nutritious and appetizing meal.

Pros

Raw freeze-dried

Nutritional balance

Cons

Expensive

It’s possible to be wasteful

Bags for little items

Uncover my in-depth evaluations of the top food choices for your canine companion.

What to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Weight Gain

Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain BG

When choosing a dog food for weight gain, several factors affecting your dog’s health and metabolism must be taken into account. Here are some of the most important considerations:

1. Calorie content:

The food should contain sufficient calories to satisfy your dog’s daily energy needs and promote weight gain. Look for foods that contain at least 400 calories per cup. The calorie content of a food can be found on the label or on the manufacturer’s website.

2. Protein content:

The diet should contain at least 30% of its protein from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Protein aids in muscle growth and tissue repair. It also helps your dog feel full and satisfied for an extended period of time.

3. Fat content:

At least 15 percent of the fats in the diet should come from healthy sources, such as fish oil, flaxseed oil, or chicken fat. Fat supplies essential fatty acids and increases calorie consumption. It also improves the health of your dog’s skin and coat and adds flavor to the food.

4. Quality ingredients:

The food should contain wholesome, natural, easily digestible, and nutritious ingredients. Avoid foods such as corn, wheat, and soy that contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and additives. Some dogs may experience allergic reactions or digestive issues due to these ingredients, which also reduce the food’s quality.

5. Palatability:

The food should be palatable and stimulate your dog’s appetite. Look for foods with a strong aroma, a succulent texture, and a flavorful sauce. You can also experiment with various flavors and formulations until you find one that your dog enjoys.

If you’re looking for ways to help your underweight pup pack on some pounds, check out my article on How To Help Dogs Gain Weight.

How to Feed Your Dog for Weight Gain: Tips and Tricks

Selecting the appropriate dog food for weight gain is only half of the equation. You must also know how to feed your dog safely and effectively for weight gain. Here are some helpful hints and tricks:

  • Increase the feeding frequency: Feed your dog more frequently, such as three to four times per day instead of once or twice. This can help your dog consume more calories without becoming overly bloated or stressed.
  • Increase the portion size: Gradually increase the amount of food you give your dog at each meal, but avoid overfeeding or forcing your dog to eat. Regularly monitor your dog’s weight and body condition, and adjust the amount of food accordingly.
  • Add healthy toppings: Add extra calories and flavor to your dog’s food by topping it with nutritious ingredients like scrambled eggs, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, or canned pumpkin. Toxic or harmful foods for dogs include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, etc.
  • Switch to a wet food: Wet foods typically contain more calories and moisture than dry foods, allowing your dog to gain weight and stay hydrated. You can also combine wet and dry dog food to create a more appetizing texture and aroma.
  • Use a supplement: If the calories or nutrients in your dog’s diet are insufficient for weight gain, you can use a supplement intended for this purpose. Before using any supplement, follow the instructions on the label and consult your veterinarian.

FAQs

1. What food can make my dog bigger?

Dogs need protein to build muscle, and meat is the most concentrated source. Fat is also important for energy and healthy skin and coats.

2. Does rice help dogs gain weight?

Rice is carbohydrate-dense and can lead to weight gain if given in excess. It’s an important source of fuel, but should be part of a balanced diet along with other nutrients.

3. Are eggs good for dogs?

Eggs are safe for dogs and offer nutritional benefits like protein, linoleic acid, and vitamins B2, B12, and A. However, dogs should not eat more than one egg a day.

4. Why is my dog so skinny even though he eats?

Dogs may eat less if they don’t like their food or if it’s gone bad. Feeding too little or low-quality food can also lead to weight loss.

5. What foods are high in protein for dogs?

Poultry, pork, beef, and fish are all good sources of animal protein, as are by-products like heart and liver. Grains and oilseeds like soybeans and wheat also provide protein.

Conclusion

Based on our evaluations and buyer’s guide, you should now have a decent notion of what to look for in dog food to help your dog gain weight. Crave Real Chicken Grain-Free Dog Food  is our top pick for the finest overall food.

This meal is strong in protein and fat to aid in weight gain, and it is grain-free, making it suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Purina Pro Plan Sport  is the best value for money.

This meal is designed to help dogs gain lean muscle mass and contains all of the vitamins, minerals, and supplements needed to maintain your dog’s general health and well-being.

Choosing the best dog food to assist your dog in gaining weight does not have to be difficult. As you purchase, keep the crucial elements listed in our buyer’s guide in mind, and your dog will be on the path to a healthy weight in no time.

BestForPets  hopes our evaluations and guide assist you in finding the best dog foods for weight gain.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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