- How to Put Weight on a Dog Safely
- Calorie Requirements for Dogs Needing to Gain Weight
- 5 Tips for Feeding a Dog that Needs to Add Pounds
- Our 2023 Picks: Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
- Overall Dry Best Dog Food for Weight Gain
- Our Most Popular Pick
- Our Most Affordable Pick
- 5 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Weight Gain
- Weight Gain Dog Food – A Final Word
Obesity is a problem that is sweeping the nation for both people and their pets. Depending on your dog’s size, a gain of even a few pounds can be unhealthy.
But what about dogs with the opposite problem? Dogs who can’t put on weight?
If your dog is underweight and your veterinarian recommends that he put on a few pounds, the answer is not to just start feeding him table scraps and other high-calorie foods. You still need to provide a balanced and nutritious diet, just one with a higher concentration of calories.
Keep reading to learn more about helping a dog gain weight safely and about choosing the best dog food brand to help him put on a few pounds.
How to Put Weight on a Dog Safely
Before you make any significant changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle, it’s a good idea to have him checked out by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will take your dog’s weight and examine his body condition to determine whether he does, in fact, need to gain weight and, if so, how much.
So, what do you do if your vet tells you that your dog needs to gain weight?
Here are some simple steps to follow in helping your dog gain weight:
- Weigh your dog and record his weight in a journal.
- Start feeding your dog a higher calorie dog food (make sure it’s rich in protein too).
- Feed your dog several small meals throughout the day.
- Consider adding some high-calorie, nutritious snacks to his diet like eggs or ground meat.
- Record your dog’s daily food intake in the journal – include both food and treats.
- Weigh your dog once a week and record the results in your journal.
- Make adjustments to your feeding plan as needed, based on your dog’s progress.
As you follow the steps above, it is important that you don’t rush the process. Suddenly increasing the amount you feed your dog could contribute to digestive upset or other issues, so be careful. You also want to be sure that most of the weight your dog puts on is lean muscle mass, not fat. This is why it is so important to choose the right dog food. Keep reading to learn more about your dog’s calorie requirements to gain weight.
Calorie Requirements for Dogs Needing to Gain Weight
Generally speaking, dogs require about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight to maintain their metabolism and other essential bodily functions. Keep in mind that this is a maintenance number – the number of calories needed to maintain their current weight. If your dog needs to put on a few pounds, his calorie needs are going to be higher – but how much higher?
The best way to determine your dog’s individual calorie needs is to do a few simple calculations.
The first thing you need to do is calculate your dog’s Resting Energy Requirement (RER) or the number of calories his body burns on a daily basis. To do so, multiply his bodyweight in kilograms by 70 then raise that number to the ¾ power (you’ll need a calculator to do this or you can find a dog RER calculator online). To determine how many calories your dog needs to gain weight, you’ll then take that number and multiply it by a factor between 1.2 and 1.8.
Choosing the right number between 1.2 and 1.8 can be tricky, so you’ll need to play around a little bit. If your dog is a small breed or only needs to gain a little weight, stick to a number closer to 1.2. If he’s a large or giant breed, or if he has to gain a lot of weight, choose something closer to 1.8. If you aren’t sure, you can always go with something in the middle or stick to the lower end and go up if needed.
5 Tips for Feeding a Dog that Needs to Add Pounds
The best thing you can do to help your dog safely gain weight is to switch him to a dog food that is high in calories but still balanced in terms of protein and fat. Simply feeding your dog an extra helping of his current food may not be enough and he could end up getting the wrong balance of nutrients.
So, how do you choose the best food to help your dog gain weight?
Here are 5 tips for things you should look for in shopping for a weight gain recipe and for feeding your dog to add pounds:
- Look for a recipe that features at least one high-quality animal protein at the top of the list – the higher the protein content of the recipe the better (something between 28% and 30% is ideal). If your dog has a sensitive stomach, choose a recipe with a single source of protein, otherwise it’s not a bad idea to have several.
- Check the fat content of the dog food – it should be a minimum of 5% but something between 15% and 18% is better for weight gain. You should also make sure that the fat comes from high-quality, animal-based sources as much as possible – chicken fat and salmon oil are ideal.
- Make sure the recipe is nutritionally balanced, ideally with fresh fruits and veggies as the primary sources of nutrients. You should also see digestible carbohydrates for fiber and beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics are a bonus.
- Transition your dog onto the new food over the course of a week or so. Start by mixing about 10% of the new food with 90% of his old food, increasing the percentage of new food every two or three days as long as your dog’s digestive system can handle it.
- Once you’ve chosen your dog’s new diet, put him on a feeding schedule. Divide his daily portion into three or four meals, making the largest meal of the day the one before bed (this encourages your dog’s body to store the extra energy as fat instead of burning it off).
Our 2023 Picks: Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
Now that you have a better understanding of how to choose a dog food to help your dog gain weight, here are our top picks for the 9 best options on the market:
Overall Dry Best Dog Food for Weight Gain
Although this Adirondack 30% High-Fat Performance Dog Food is designed for active and working breeds, it is also a great weight gain formula. Packed with 30% protein and 20% fat, this recipe contains about 535 calories per cup which is one of the highest on the market. Not only is this formula rich in fat, protein, and calories, but it is made with high-quality ingredients and beneficial supplements to ensure nutritional value. If you’re worried that the calorie content is a little too high, there are three other formulas available, including a large-breed specific recipe.
- Pros: Real animal protein as main ingredient, 30% fat content, 20% protein, digestible carbohydrates, healthy animal fats, chelated minerals, probiotic supplements, concentrated calorie content
- Cons: May be too high in calories for some dogs, some dogs are sensitive to chicken, not grain-free
Our Most Popular Pick
Easily one of the most popular brands on the market, Taste of the Wild is known for using high-quality roasted meats in all of the recipes. This Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food is a great choice for weight gain because it contains 32% protein, 18% fat, and 370 calories per cup. This recipe features novel proteins like buffalo, lamb, bison, and venison to reduce the risk for food allergies, and it is completely grain-free. You’ll also love that it contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption as well as dried fermentation products for probiotic support.
- Pros: Real roasted meats, high protein and fat content, novel protein sources, grain-free recipe, beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics
- Cons: Contains some chicken ingredients, main source of fat is plant-based, contains some plant protein
Our Most Affordable Pick
You don’t necessarily need to spend as mall fortune to buy a high-quality dog food. This American Journey Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe is a great option to help your dog gain weight because it is made with quality ingredients and available at an affordable price. This formula features deboned lamb as the primary protein with supplemental proteins like chicken and turkey meal. It is packed with healthy fats from chicken fat and salmon oil, with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics.
- Pros: Numerous quality animal proteins, grain-free formula, rich in healthy animal fats, contains 32% crude protein, fresh fruits and veggies, beneficial supplements
- Cons: Contains some chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (pea protein)
5 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Weight Gain
If the three dog foods above don’t work for some reason, there are plenty of other options to choose from! Here are five more top-rated dog foods that are good for weight gain:
This Blue Buffalo Grain-Free Wilderness Salmon Recipe is designed to provide concentrated protein while still maintaining balanced nutrition for adult dogs. It is made with high-quality ingredients like deboned salmon, menhaden fish meal, chicken fat, and grain-free carbohydrates. It contains 34% protein and 15% fat, with a calorie content of 415 per cup. In addition to being high in protein and calories, this recipe is formulated to support healthy muscle development and energy for an active lifestyle. It is also supplemented with glucosamine for joint health and omega fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat. It also contains probiotics for digestion.
- Pros: Real animal proteins, high in protein and fat, grain-free recipe, supports healthy muscle development, blend of omega fatty acids, probiotics for healthy digestion
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, fat content could be higher, some plant protein
If you aren’t looking for a low-budget option, Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Cage-Free Duck Recipe is a great product. This recipe is made with cage-free duck, so you can count on high-quality protein. In fact, this recipe contains a whopping 47% crude protein with 17% fat and 496 calories per cup. This formula contains several sources of quality animal protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates. It is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption, and both fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion. Plus, it is free from by-products and artificial additives and coated with freeze-dried raw duck for a boost of flavor and nutrition.
- Pros: High-quality animal protein, 47% protein and 17% fat, concentrated source of calories, grain-free recipe, chelated minerals and probiotics, freeze-dried raw coating
- Cons: Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
The Solid Gold brand of dog food offers two grain-free, high-protein recipes. This particular formula features cold water salmon and krill as the main sources of protein, offering a full 38% protein and 18% fat. This recipe is designed to support healthy muscle development as well as healthy skin, coat, digestion, and immunity. It includes 16 superfoods and is supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics. There is also a recipe that features buffalo, in case your dog is sensitive to fish.
- Pros: High-quality animal protein, 38% crude protein and 18% fat, contains 16 superfoods, supports healthy muscle development, beneficial supplements, grain-free
- Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
Merrick is one of several dog food brands that offers raw-infused recipes. This Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe is a great option for weight gain because it is packed with 38% protein, 17% fat, and is a great source of balanced nutrition. In addition to being free from gluten and grains, this recipe is the ideal combination of high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces. It comes in several different flavors, but this particular one features deboned beef, lamb meal, and salmon meal as the primary proteins. With digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas, this recipe is also rich in fiber for healthy digestion – plus, it contains probiotics for additional support.
- Pros: High-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces, several quality animal proteins, 38% protein and 17% fat, grain-free recipe, supports healthy digestion
- Cons: Main source of fat is pork-based, some plant protein (pea protein and alfalfa), very expensive
If your dog has a sensitive stomach but he still needs to gain weight, this Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Salmon Recipe Dog Food might be a good option. It is a limited ingredient diet which means that there is a reduced risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities, but it is still rich in protein and fat. This formula features deboned salmon and salmon meal as a single source of protein with grain-free carbohydrates like chickpeas. It contains 30% protein and 18% fat with 438 calories per cup, so it is high enough in protein and calories to help your dog gain weight and lean muscle mass. It may cost more than most of the brands on this list, but it offers excellent quality and is a great choice for dogs who have digestive issues.
- Pros: Single source of animal protein, 30% protein and 18% fat, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, contains dried fermentation products for probiotic support
- Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), very expensive
Weight Gain Dog Food – A Final Word
Now that you know what you need to do to help your dog gain weight, all you have to do is put your plan in action! Try one of the dog food brands recommended above or use our helpful tips to shop for your own. Best of luck!