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Dogs would probably happily join the body positivity squad if you coax them with a cookie (or belly rubs) but the concept of body shaming is lost on them. In spite of their non-familiarity with the matter, they struggle with body weight, just like their humans. And, being overweight is not the only problem that ails the canine community.
Some dogs cannot maintain a healthy body weight.
Although fluctuations in body weight are common in dogs at all life stages, you should worry about your pet’s well-being if it is suffering from abnormal, sudden, or inexplicable weight loss.
Here’s what I found out about weight loss in dogs and how it can be treated with specialty diets. Continue reading to learn of the 10 best dog foods to gain weight.
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free
Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe
Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe
Stella & Chewy’s Mixer
Stella & Chewy’s Mixer
Dogs are not all that different from us. They will lose weight if they burn more calories than they consume – that’s the underlying principle of all kinds of weight loss. So minor fluctuations in weight (3-5% of their body weight) due to stress, change in diet, or increase in activity levels should not concern you.
The problem arises when your dog loses more than 10% of its normal body weight in 30 days or less.
It indicates an underlying medical problem that might need immediate attention. This is true irrespective of the age of your dog because weight loss could be a sign of:
This is only the tip of the iceberg – weight loss in dogs is complex and must be treated with care. Book a visit to the vet if your dog’s bones are starting to show, or it’s losing weight rapidly at 2% of its weight every week. It may sound like a complicated math problem at the onset but awareness is always better than having a sick dog.
The good news is that you can help your dog with healthy weight gain by making changes to its lifestyle and switching to dedicated dog food for weight gain. So I scoured the market for dog food for weight gain and handpicked ten high-quality products that you can feed your dog.
Orijen is a brand that is well-known for manufacturing premium quality whole prey diets for dogs and this particular formula is no exception. It’s made from free-range chicken, turkey, and wild-caught fish. All three are excellent sources of lean protein that help in muscle gain without adding empty calories to your dog’s diet.
The food is easy to digest, allowing for optimal absorption of essential nutrients that can help rebuild your dog’s body. While you have to continue feeding your pet this dog food for several months for the best results, you will be able to notice steady growth.
The brand claims this food is good for dogs of all ages and sizes but I find it particularly helpful for small to medium-breed dogs that are either growing or in their prime. That’s hardly a deterrent to impact your purchase decision. Having said that, I have to admit it might not be the best choice for aging dogs with low activity levels. It can still contribute to their muscle gain.
An excellent alternative to a raw diet, the Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe uses premium quality grass-fed New Zealand beef as its primary source of protein. Since the beef is air-dried, it packs a punch in terms of nutrition in much smaller servings compared to traditional kibble. Air-dried meat also happens to have highly absorbable nutrients in it, exactly the kind that a dog needs to gain muscle mass.
The other interesting addition is mussels, known for their easily digestible protein content that helps with healing bones and muscles. It’s a novel protein source that is good for dogs with food sensitivities. It’s also rather delicious to taste, something that even picky eaters will gobble with delight.
This food strikes the perfect balance between raw and freeze-dried options, making it a delicious, nutritious, and safe choice. You can serve Kiwi Peak Beef Recipe as a complete meal or supplement your dog’s existing meals by using it as a topper. Since the formula only has limited sources of protein, it works well for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Made from grass-fed beef and beef organ meat, Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Meal Mixer is one of the best quality meal toppers available in the market. It’s made from antibiotic-free and organic beef which is an unadulterated source of proteins and fats. To make it even better, the beef bits are freeze-dried to retain their nutritional density and have an intense flavor that no dog can refuse.
Although not a complete meal, I love this product because you can add it to your dog’s regular bowl of food to give your Fido a boost of nutrition without upending its diet. The weight gain is fairly quick and does not come with less-than-satisfactory side effects like bloating, abnormal stool, etc. Because it is high in protein and low in calories, it suits dogs of all ages: from pups to seniors.
I also like the fact that a little goes a long way – Dex almost inhales his food when I sprinkle Super Beef Meal Mixer on top. Value for money, if you ask me.
The Sports Performance formula from the PURINA Pro Plan range comes in multiple varieties based on the life stages and activity levels of dogs. This particular recipe has ingredients that are rich in protein but are also easy to digest – an ideal combination for aging but active dogs.
I love that it’s low on fat and carbs but contains ample calories that your active senior dog might need to maintain its energy levels. Because metabolism slows down with age even in the healthiest dogs, this well-thought nutritional distribution makes the Sports Formula for Adults an excellent choice.
Surprisingly enough, despite not being grain-free, the hyper-hydrolyzed kibble is relatively safe even for dogs with food sensitivities. That wins brownie points because most dog food for weight gain contains common proteins as their main ingredient which may cause allergies in some dogs. Since it makes so many exceptions, I happen to love the PURINA Pro Plan Sports Formula for Adults. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re afraid your senior dog may be losing muscle mass.
The Red Meat Recipe from ACANA contains fresh or raw sources of human-grade proteins like beef, pork, and lamb. All three have excellent protein-to-fat ratios and can help with weight gain in highly underweight dogs. But the formula does not solely rely on red meats for nutrition, it also contains a unique selection of fruits and vegetables that add lots of fiber to an otherwise meat-heavy diet.
So the carefully chosen ingredients make the Red Meat Recipe a well-balanced formula that is ideal for weight gain in weak dogs. I also like that the kibble is small in size, smells, and tastes delectable – most dogs tend to gobble it up without fuss. It also contains loads of pre and probiotics (even a healthy dose of microorganisms) which help with the optimal absorption of nutrients from the ingredients.
Given that it contains very good quality ingredients, helps with digestion, and maintains the overall health of dogs, ACANA Red Meat Recipe is one of my favorites on this list.
CRAVE makes dog food that mimics the natural diet of their ancestors, the wolves. It’s an animal protein-forward formula with a rich, meaty chicken flavor that even picky eaters love. It helps reinvigorate the appetite of dogs that eat less because of olfactory problems and allows for steady muscle gain over time.
The formulation contains all the AAFCO-mandated essentials and strikes the perfect balance between calories and protein. It has enough to keep your dog full and energetic throughout the day. Since it’s low in calories, it also works out well as senior dog food for pets that are lethargic and do not indulge in too much physical activity.
That said, CRAVE is a much younger brand compared to most of the other brands featured in this article. That’s why it does not have many flavor variations or size-specific kibble. Hopefully, the brand will add more product variations to its collection soon.
Adirondack makes value for money dog food using standard meat meals, chicken in this specific formula. Although it’s not the best in quality, this kibble does contain all essentials that help with quick and easy weight gain in dogs. It is further fortified with chelated minerals which are high absorable in nature – that’s why dog food is good for weight gain in puppies.
I decided to include Adirondack in this list because the brand slow cooks its dog food. This cooking technique is known for retaining nutrients in their most unaltered form and Adirondack has been perfecting the method for 40 years. The deal with slow-cooked food is that your dog gets the nutrition it needs even if you serve a small portion size.
The brand has also not had any recalls. So even though I don’t like some of the ingredients found in the product, I know it achieves what it sets out to do.
The Rocky Mountain Recipe with Red Meat from Blue Buffalo has a composition similar to Adirondack but with more protein and fiber. That’s why these “lifesource bits” as the brand calls them are better for weight gain – underweights dogs need a fiber-rich diet to gain weight.
Blue Buffalo only uses premium quality beef, venison, and lamb in this formula. All three are reliable sources of protein that can help with maintaining healthy body mass in dogs. I like that it contains no poultry products, soy, corn, or wheat – so you can feed this to dogs with chicken allergies.
The only reason why I have given it a relatively low score is that the food was recalled due to improper packaging issues in March 2017. Adirondack has a clean record. Although the brand did not cut corners with the quality of the product, improper packaging is unacceptable.
I have always liked the products in Merrick’s Backcountry range but this Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe is my favorite because of its ingredients. It’s human-grade deboned beef that is partly raw and freeze-dried and partly coated. So it’s not only rich in nutrients but offers great textural variation that’s at once exciting and easy to chew.
If you have a picky eater on your hands, this is a great specialty diet for weight gain. You can even mix it up with homemade food for an extra boost of nutrition.
That said, I cannot overlook the fact that some packages contain lesser number of raw bits than others. While this may be a manufacturing and packaging problem, the brand should be more careful. Most dogs love gorging on the raw bits.
Also bear in mind that Merrick has had some of its beef-based treats recalled in the past, although this dog food has a clean sheet.
My research reveals that a good diet can help dogs gain muscle mass and attain a healthy weight if the weightloss is induced by an insufficient diet. Some ingredients can help dogs that struggle with improper digestion and inadequate absorption of nutrients in their food. But that does not come as a surprise because a well-balanced diet is what all dogs need to stay in the prime of their health.
So for this review I handpicked 10 products that have good ingredients, come from reliable brands, and have proven to be effective in weight gain.
That said, I’d like to reiterate that weight loss can be a result of a severe mental or physical illness in dogs. If your dog is malnourished or disinterested in eating, it’s time to schedule a vet visit. Only a qualified professional can help you with the correct diagnosis so that you can make necessary changes to your pet’s lifestyle.
Otherwise, go for high protein, high fiber diets – that should do the trick.
Rice is one of the most concentrated sources of carbohydrates and can certainly help with weight gain in dogs. Ensure that you cook the rice well before serving it to your dog. However, rice should not be the primary ingredient in your dog’s weight-gain diet – too much of it can lead to bloating, spike blood sugar levels, and lead to other health issues.
To avoid such complications, ensure that the quantity of rice you feed your dog does not exceed 10% of its daily calorie intake. Supplement it with other essentials of a balanced diet, like protein and healthy fats for best results.
Since chicken is a great source of protein that’s also easily digestible, adding chicken to your dog’s everyday meals can help it gain muscle mass. Go for free-range, high-quality chicken meat if you like feeding home-cooked meals to your pet. Otherwise, dog food that has chicken as its primary protein source can also help.
Just make sure to steer clear of kibble that uses chicken meal. Go for whole-prey diets if your dog usually eats commercially available kibble.
Good quality dog food made from select ingredients can help dogs gain muscle mass and put on weight over due course of time. But just a good diet is not enough to help your dog with weight gain.
It has to be paired with a healthy lifestyle, supplements, and medicines for whatever medical condition may be causing the weight loss.
Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.
Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.