Dogs who are underweight can be a result of many different things, such as poor nutrition, parasites, or even cancer. If your dog is malnourished, it’s important to figure out the cause and take the necessary steps to correct it.
One way to do this is by feeding your dog high-quality dog food to help them gain weight. We’ve compiled a list of the best dog foods to help your dog gain weight and included a few meal toppers and supplements that can be easily added to your dog’s kibble.
These foods are all high in protein and calories and will help your dog pack on the pounds in no time. This buying guide will discuss some of the best food for underweight or super active sporting dogs. We’ll also provide you with a list of factors to consider when choosing dog food for an underweight pup. So if you’re concerned about your furry friend’s health and weight, keep reading!
This natural fish oil additive supplement supports the skin, coat, hips and joints, heart, and immune system. Zesty Paws is crafted from wild Alaskan salmon oil and features over 24,000 positive reviews. This is another must-have product for pet parents.
It contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). This premium fish oil liquid formula provides relief and nourishment for dry skin, dull shedding coats, hot spots, itching, and irritation.
- Two size options
- Includes EPA and DHA
- Nourishing and tasty supplement
- It contains omega- 3 fatty acids
- Smells good
- Over 24,000 positive reviews
Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixer is a convenient way to add nutrient-rich meat, wholesome fruits and veggies, probiotics, and antioxidants to any diet. The right mix of raw meats, organs, bone, and fruit/veggies provides all the nutrition your dog needs while keeping it simple for you.
This grain-free recipe is easy for dogs of all life stages to digest and is fortified with added vitamins and minerals, helping improve your dog’s well-being.
With fiber and probiotics for digestive support and taurine for heart health, this freeze-dried raw formula is the perfect way to help keep your pup healthy and happy and to help him gain weight. This meal topper can be added to any kibble to boost its nutritional value or fed as a complete meal.
This product has over 14,700 positive reviews and is a must-have for all pet parents. The first five ingredients include beef, beef liver, beef kidney, beef heart, and beef tripe. It also includes broccoli, organic beets, organic carrots, organic squash, organic blueberries, organic spinach, and cranberries.
Meal toppers for weight gain
When feeding meal toppers, it’s best to provide enough to avoid nutritional imbalances. For example, adding a meal topper is best to keep additions to 20% or less of your pet’s total diet.
When using meal toppers together with a complete and balanced meal, it’s key to ensure that your pet is consuming enough of his complete and balanced diet to benefit from all the nutrients.
If your pet is not finishing his complete and balanced diet, the meal topper may provide too many calories and nutrients, and he could become overweight.
- Numerous recipes: chicken, turkey, beef, cod and salmon, lamb and pork
- Full feed or topper
- Added minerals and vitamins
- Multiple size options for all pet breeds
- Suitable for all life stages
- Over 14,700 positive reviews
This is a bestseller with plenty of positive reviews. If your pup is not already on probiotics, Zesty Paws has five flavors: chicken, bison, pumpkin, advanced chicken, and chicken vet strength. Zesty Paws probiotics has over 27,400 positive reviews.
Zesty Paws Probiotics has you covered with a base of pumpkin and papaya (sources of enzymes) plus probiotics for digestion, bowel, and immune support.
Their DE111 probiotic is clinically studied and supports proper digestive function and the immune system. Their six-strain probiotic chews blend helps support gut function and proper gut flora for occasional gastric distress relief. Probiotics are a good way of keeping your pup healthy by promoting digestive tract health.
Avoid processed foods
We all know processed foods are not suitable for our health, and the same goes for our pets. Dogs should not eat a diet that consists of mainly processed foods because these foods lack the nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle. Dogs need fresh, whole foods to provide them with the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants required for good health.
When it comes to feeding your pup or dog, portion control is key. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which puts your dog at risk for several health problems.
Underfeeding is just as harmful and can result in malnutrition. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to determine how much food your pup or dog needs to be based on his/her weight, age, and activity level.
Exercise for underweight dogs
Regular exercise is essential for all dogs, and it is necessary for those trying to gain weight. Exercise helps to boost the metabolism and can help your dog burn off excess calories. It is essential to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise as your dog gets stronger.
If your dog is not used to exercising, it is essential to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity. Setting play time aside for your dog is key to giving him or her the exercise they need and will also improve your quality of life.
Remember that it takes time for puppies to reach their full adult size. Be patient and continue following these tips; your pup will reach a healthy weight in no time. Always feed puppies a puppy dog food formula so that they grow and gain weight at a healthy pace.
When it comes to an underweight dog, always consult your veterinarian first. They will be able to help you determine if there is an underlying health issue causing the weight loss.
If not, they can provide you with a plan to help your pup or adult dog reach a healthy weight. If you have an underweight adult dog, always consult with your vet first to rule out underlying health issues.
Supplement with vitamins and minerals
If your pup or adult dog is not getting all the nutrients he/she needs from their food; you may want to consider supplementing with vitamins and minerals. Be sure to talk to your vet first, as some supplements can be harmful if not given correctly.
Vitamins and minerals have to be balanced and complete and able to be absorbed by the body. Choose vitamins for your dog that state the milligrams or international units on the label and include high-quality ingredients.
Probiotics for dogs
Supplements featuring prebiotics and probiotics are helpful. Two other nutrients- mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) and organic acids- may also be beneficial. MOS is a probiotic that acts as a food source for good bacteria and can help to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut while also helping to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.
Organic acids are another probiotic that can help to improve gut health. They work by creating an environment that is hostile to bad bacteria while promoting the growth of good bacteria. Additionally, organic acids help acidify the gut, which can help to reduce the risk of gut infections.
When choosing a probiotic supplement for your dog, choose one specifically designed for dogs. Probiotic supplements come in various forms, such as powders, capsules, and liquids. They can also be found in some types of dog food.
Keeping the microbiome healthy with prebiotics and probiotics can help avoid various health issues and changes in response to diet.
- Numerous formulas
- 60 or 90 count
- Soft chews
- Contains DE111, a clinically studied Bacillus subtilis that supports proper digestive function
- Over 27,400 positive reviews
- Six-strain probiotic chews for optimal gut health
- Affordable for multi-pet homes
This food is designed to help your dog build muscle, size, and weight. It is also perfect for all ages of dogs. Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food provides 535 calories per cup, making it an excellent option for active dogs.
The takeaway with this dog food is that it’s formulated for all life stages and has never had a recall. We like this food for dogs that need to gain weight because it is high in calories and protein.
This meat-based formula is crafted with functional amino-packed proteins that allow your dog to thrive. This product has over 4,500 positive reviews and is available in 3 sizes.
Will puppy food help my adult dog gain a healthy weight?
Puppy food is designed to help puppies gain weight. Adult dogs don’t need as many calories as puppies, so feeding them puppy food may cause them to gain too much weight.
If you’re looking for a food that will help your adult dog gain weight, you’ll want to choose a food that is high in calories and fat. So if you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, talk to your vet about the best food to feed them.
Best dog foods to gain weight
Your veterinarian will check for any underlying health problems like intestinal parasites, liver disease, or diabetes that could be causing your dog to lose weight. If there are no health problems, you can start feeding your dog a high-protein or high-calorie diet. Here’s the takeaway on the best dog food brands to help your dog gain weight.
- Suitable for all life stages
- 30% protein and 20% fat
- Three size options
- Free of corn, soy, and wheat
- Vet recommended
- It can be used as a mix in regular kibble
- 535 calories per cup
- All-natural, meat-based formula
- Made in the US
- Over 4,500 positive reviews
We recommend this dog food for weight gain because it is calorie dense and high in protein. This food also has 8-in-1 weight, growth, and health benefits. It is also great for growing puppies four weeks and older because it is easy to digest and gentle on the stomach.
The takeaway with this formula is that it features Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin and coat health, added antioxidants for immune system support, and glucosamine & chondroitin to support joints.
This is a calorie-dense formula with a good protein and fat ratio of 31/25 for optimal digestion. It also contains essential proteins and carbohydrates to help meet the energy needs of working dogs. Each cup of dog food has 600 calories which are ideal for fast weight gain.
- Suitable for all life stages
- High protein weight gain dog food
- 600kcal per cup
- Includes high-quality proteins
- 100% natural and filler free
- 8-in-1 weight, growth & health benefits
- Includes prebiotics and probiotics
- Crafted with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- Made in the US in FDA and GMP-registered facility
This is another high-protein formula that includes glucosamine and EPA for joint support. As with the other recipes, this one is also good for dogs that need more help staying active and maintaining weight. This concentrated nutrition optimizes oxygen metabolism (VO2 MAX) for increased endurance.
The corn gluten meal that’s the second ingredient may be better. However, The Pet Food Institute posted on September 2022 that why the Pet Food Institute worked with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and its ingredient definition process to change the ingredient name “corn gluten meal” to “corn protein meal,” as corn is gluten-free.
The Pet Food Institute adds, “Corn protein meal has been a source of high-quality protein in pet food for more than a century, helping pet food makers create complete and balanced nutrition for America’s dogs and cats.” They add that there is no gluten in corn protein meal.
Purina Pro Plan Performance is fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive and immune health.
The salmon flavor works well for dogs with sensitivities to poultry, and the kibble is small and easy to chew. This formula includes amino acids to nourish muscles, most especially after exercise.
This formula is also suitable for those dogs that have a higher metabolism. The extra protein and fat help to keep them feeling full and provide the energy they need to maintain their active lifestyle. The 30/20 ratio is also ideal for those dogs that are working dogs or participate in dog sports.
- Two sizes options
- Salmon rice, salmon cod recipe options
- Over 2,000 positive reviews
- Features glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid
- Includes Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A to nourish skin and coat
- Salmon rice formula with smaller bite sizes
- Suitable for dogs with chicken sensitivities
- Crafted with 30% protein and 20% fat
- A Purina pet product
This is one of 9 dry dog food recipes from Acana with wholesome ingredients. The first five ingredients include deboned chicken, deboned turkey, Atlantic flounder, whole eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel. We like this recipe for underweight dogs because it is high in protein and fat. Orijen high-protein dog food contains 38% crude protein and 18% fat content.
This recipe is grain-free and has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This dog food for all life stages includes 85% quality poultry and fish ingredients, providing a strong source of essential protein, vitamins, and minerals. This product has over 6,800 positive reviews.
- Free-run chicken, turkey, and fish recipe
- Champion Pet foods
- Wholesome ingredients
- Numerous recipes and size options
- Over 6,800 positive reviews
- Numerous recipes and size options
- A biologically appropriate grain-free diet
- Crafted with essential protein, vitamins, and minerals.
This is another favorite that also includes glucosamine for joint health. It’s grain-free and made with real deboned chicken as the first ingredient. We also like that it’s potato, pea, and lentil-free. It includes essential vitamins, minerals, and ancient grains such as quinoa to aid digestion. The takeaway with this formula is that it has high levels of omega fatty acids, DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
This formula helps to maintain high energy levels and helps build muscle mass. The whole grains support healthy digestion. This product has over 1,900 positive reviews with the first five ingredients, including deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and oatmeal.
- Numerous sizes and recipes to choose from
- Crude protein at 28%, crude fat at 15%
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint health
- Puppy formula
- Pea, lentil, and potato free- legume-free recipe
- Made in the US
Why do dogs lose weight?
From low-quality dog foods to parasites, there are many reasons why your dog may be losing weight. Poor quality dog food, pain, parasites, allergies, intolerances, and illness can all lead to weight loss in dogs. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight loss, take him to the vet for a check-up. Tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms, are a common cause of chronic weight loss in dogs.
PetMD adds that weight loss occurs even when your dog has a good appetite. PetMD says,” If left untreated, intestinal parasites can migrate to other organs in your dog’s body, including the heart, lungs, liver, eyes, and brain, which could lead to worsening sickness and even death in the most severe cases.”
Certain illnesses can also cause weight loss in dogs. If your dog is losing weight and you can’t figure out why, it could be due to a serious illness. Cancer, for example, is a severe illness that can cause weight loss in dogs. If your dog has cancer, they will need to be treated with medication or surgery and have a dietary change.
In some cases, weight loss in dogs is simply due to old age. As dog’s age, they lose muscle mass, and their metabolism slows down. This can lead to weight loss, even if your dog eats the same amount of food as he or she did when they were younger.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation explains that most dogs in the US are not malnourished but suffer from undernutrition which can impact immune function.
They explain that “Three things impact a dog’s immune system: genetics, life stage, and lifestyle, which includes diet. Though a breeder or owner can’t impact the first two, he or she can influence what a dog eats,” Instead, they advise feeding pets a complete and balanced diet to aid healthy immune function.
If your dog is losing weight due to old age, there’s not much you can do to stop it. However, you can ensure that your dog gets the nutrients they need by feeding them high-quality senior dog food.
What’s the best diet if your pet has more than one disease?
Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service explains that nutrition is the ultimate medical therapy for pets with many diseases. Tufts explains that ” optimizing a pet’s nutritional plan can make the patient feel better and sometimes help to improve the underlying disease.”
Tufts adds that it’s essential to understand that pets are all unique, and it’s beneficial to feed them individually according to the underlying disease, symptoms, test results, and physical features like body condition score and muscle condition score.
If pets have more than one disease, they will benefit from nutritional changes, and selecting an optimal diet is even more complicated. However, Tufts adds that a therapeutic diet may or may not be beneficial.
” An example would be a dog that needs a low-fat diet for digestive issues but also a high-calorie diet to maintain weight. In this situation, we prioritize the goals based on what medical issues are the most serious. ” They conclude that it’s essential to develop a plan with your vet for everything your pet eats aside from his main diet. This includes supplements, treats, dental products, and even rawhides.
Nurture with healthy nutrition
You want to improve your pup’s health and longevity, and your dog needs to pick up weight. However, there are many factors to consider that may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s quite simple. This checklist with a few tips will help you.
Check with your veterinarian
If you are unsure about your pup’s ideal weight or if he/she is underweight, be sure to check with your veterinarian. They will be able to help you come up with a plan to help your pup or adult dog reach a healthy weight.
Routine medical examinations help detect health issues before they become serious. If your dog is underweight, get blood panels to monitor your health.
Provide high-quality food
Choose a food designed for puppies or adult dogs with high-quality ingredients. This will help your pup or adult dog get the nutrients he/she needs to grow and thrive.
When choosing high-quality dog food, look for labels that include whole meat ingredients like beef, fish, chicken, or lamb– try not to feed by-product ingredients. Good quality pet food brands provide healthier ingredients and do not necessarily have to be expensive. Dog food containing natural, unadulterated ingredients promotes a more balanced digestive tract.
When choosing high-quality dog food for weight gain, choose recipes that include flaxseed, pumpkin, yellow mustard, beets, thyme, and sweet potatoes, which are great for the digestive tract. Also, omega-3 fatty acids allow for healthy and diverse microbiota. Synthetic ingredients and additives in dog food can throw out your dog’s microbiome.
Adding a bit of green to your dog’s diet with more fresh fruits and veggies has numerous health benefits and reduces your dog’s cancer risk. Studies show that eating as little as one cup of raw veggies can add years to a person’s life.
Today research is proving the same for dogs. Phytochemicals have numerous health benefits for pets. For example, feeding dogs dark vibrant veggies like kale help to clear carcinogenic substances fast.
Dark green veggies like kale and broccoli are rich in compounds like glucosinolates and sulforaphanes. These substances help to remove toxins and carcinogens from the body.
Sardines contain taurine and omega-3 fatty acids. While taurine is essential for heart health, Omega 3 fatty acids combat inflammation of skin and joints. Although most kibble-based diets are high in omega-6’s, they lack omega-3’s. In addition, we’ve added a best-selling omega-3 fish oil below for skin and coat, heart, immune and joint support.
Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s need to be in balance to be of any benefit. You can fix this by replacing a portion of kibble and adding a few sardines two to three times weekly. Alternating sardines with eggs allows for a change in protein sources and provides a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
FAQ’s Best High-Calorie Dog Food
What dog food is the highest in calories?
Miracle Vet 8-in-1 high-calorie dog food with the most calories to help your dog maintain a healthy weight and coat. This food is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat.
Miracle Vet 8-in-1 high-calorie dog food is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support overall health. This calorie-dense dog food is ideal for adding healthy weight to your dog within a short period- 2 weeks.
It also includes added antioxidants for immune system support, glucosamine & chondroitin to support joints, and has a calorie-dense formula with a perfect protein & fat ratio of 31/25.
What is nutritional liquid best for weight gain and recovery?
Miracle Vet 8-in-1 nutritional liquid features omega-3s for dogs and cats. It includes 150 kcal per ounce and serves as a calorie booster and appetite stimulant.
How can I tell if my dog is underweight?
Is my dog too skinny? How to tell- Companion Animal Vets
Video credit: Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital
Feeding dogs correctly is key to maintaining their health and preventing obesity-related health problems. Consult a professional nutritionist or veterinarian if you need help figuring out what and how much to feed your furry friend. In addition, they can create a feeding plan tailored specifically for your dog based on his or her age, breed, activity level, and other unique factors.
Claudia Bensimoun is a writer who specializes in dog content and veterinary topics! Aside from writing for We Love Doodles, Claudia also writes for other major dog blogs like Fido Friendly, Animal Wellness Magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA). She has a ghostwritten over 50 different dog e-books. Her passions include animal welfare, veterinary research, and wildlife conservation.
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