5 Best Dog Food for Weight Gain (High-Calorie Diets) in 2019

While most pets struggling with weight problems are overweight or obese, many dogs also struggle to put weight on. Dogs who are very active, are older or have underlying health problems may struggle to gain weight properly.

Luckily, many companies make specialized diets to help dogs bulk up. In this article, we will review the best dog foods for weight gain on the market.

Dogs That Might Benefit from a Dog Food for Weight Gain

If your dog struggles to keep weight on while on a traditional diet, switching them to a high-calorie, weight gain diet may help.

Dogs who are very active such as working dogs or dogs who compete in athletic events require a lot more calories than companion animals. By feeding a high-calorie diet, you can feed less food while still helping them maintain a healthy weight.

Puppies and nursing mothers also need more calories than the average adult dog. And some dogs with chronic illnesses may need calorie dense dog food.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Underweight

The easiest way to assess your dog’s weight is to feel their ribs. According to petmd.com, “Individual ribs should be evident without having to press hard, but they should not be readily felt.”

If your dog’s ribs are easy to feel, they may be slightly underweight. If their hip and shoulder bones are also prominent, they may be very underweight.

Check out this video for a step by step guide to checking your dog’s weight.

Keep in mind that all dog breeds are built differently. For example, you will be able to see the ribs and hip bones of a healthy greyhound, but you should not be able to see any ribs on purebred labrador.

How to Pick a Quality Dog Food for Weight Gain

Many companies now have high-calorie foods designed for active and underweight dogs. Most puppy foods are more calorie dense than those for adults.

If your dog needs to gain weight, either of these can be a good option. We recommend dry foods with 30% protein and 20% fat or wet foods with 7% protein and 5% fat for weight gain.

If your dog will be on the food long term due to high activity or chronic illness, you will want to look for quality food with the right nutritional profile. Always select foods with a quality animal protein as the first ingredient and that don’t contain filler ingredients like corn or soy.

Reviews of The Best Dog Food for Weight Gain

#1. Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food

Best Overall

Bully Max High Performance
Score: (5/5)

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High calorie, fat and protein diet with quality, natural ingredients.
Pros

High-quality ingredients

30/20 protein/fat percentages

Highest kcalorie per cup

Cons

High price per pound

Contains multiple grains

This is the best dog food to gain weight and muscle on the market.

The protein-packed ingredients and high-fat oils mean this food will help active dogs hold weight. And the high-quality ingredients make it a great choice for long term feeding.

Chicken is the first ingredient and added fish meal and fish oils help up the fat levels. All the ingredients are natural without added chemicals.

This food is meant for all life stages and for all breeds but is especially helpful for muscular and working breeds. It is the best dog food to build muscle and best dog food for muscle growth on our list.

With 535 kcalories per cup, it is also the best high-calorie dog food we reviewed. It contains 30% protein and 20% fat, the recommended amounts for a weight gain diet.

This is one of the more expensive foods on our list, but many customers feel it is worth the price. In addition to helping their dogs gain weight, many noted improved coat and firmer stools.

In addition to high protein animal ingredients, there are a number of grains included in the food. Some dogs with sensitive stomachs may not tolerate this food as well as a grain free food.

#2. Purina Beyond Wild Grain Free, Natural, High Protein Adult Dog Food

Best Canned Food

Purina Beyond Wild High Protein Adult
Score: (5/5)

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High protein and fat diet with readily available nutrients and quality ingredients.
Pros

Grain free

Very high protein/fat percentages

Quality animal proteins

Cons

More expensive than many dry foods

This is the best canned dog food for weight gain on our list.

Both the turkey and beef recipes surpass the recommended protein and fat percentages for weight gain foods. That makes this the best dog food for underweight dogs that we reviewed.

Because this is a canned diet, the nutrients are more readily available than with a dry food. This is an excellent choice for malnourished dogs or those with digestive diseases.

Purina’s Beyond Wild line contains quality ingredients and high protein animal sources. They are also grain free, making this food a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

The price tag for this item is another thing to be happy about. Canned diets tend to be more expensive than wet, but this food is more affordable than most.

Most customers who have tried this food rave about how much their dog enjoyed it. Even dogs with picky sensibilities seem to be won over by this canned food.

As you might imagine, many customers love this food for helping their pets gain back weight. And it seems to be especially helpful for lean dogs with sensitive stomachs.

#3. Victor Dog Food Grain-Free Active Dog and Puppy Beef Meal and Sweet Potato

Best for Puppies

Victor Dog Food Active Dog and Puppy
Score: (5/5)

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High-calorie diet formulated for puppies and active adults with high quality ingredients.
Pros

USA sourced and quality ingredients

Moderately priced

Made for puppies and adults

Cons

Kibble size too big for small puppies

This is the only food on our list marketed for both active adults and puppies. As you can imagine, it is also one of the best dog foods to put on weight.

This is a great choice for working and competing dogs who burn a lot of calories, as well as nursing mothers and their maturing litters.

At 397 kcalories per cup, this food has fewer calories per serving than our number one pick. It also has more protein and less fat, making it a great choice for owners who want to keep their working dogs lean and healthy without adding too much weight.

Because this food is specially formulated with active puppies in mind, it is the best puppy food for weight gain on our list. It is a great choice for lean breeds like pointers and sighthounds as it can be fed from puppyhood through adulthood.

This is one of our more affordable foods on the list, but it still contains quality ingredients and is grain free. It is an excellent choice for dogs with corn or wheat allergies. If your dogs are suffering from some kind of food allergy or intolerance, consider this one or check out this article on the best dog food for allergies.

Victor brand foods are known for their quality and many customers comment on how great it is to find quality food that their dog actually enjoys.

#4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

Best for Seniors

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Senior
Score: (4.5/5)

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High protein diet for seniors struggling with muscle loss made at an affordable price.
Pros

Grain free

High protein

Affordable

Cons

Lower fat content

This high protein food was made to support muscle growth in senior dogs.

It has half as much fat as the other foods on this list and is not the best option to put weight on a normal healthy adult dog. However, this ingredient ratio can help older dogs’ digestion and muscle health without adding unnecessary weight.

Similar to the Victor Active Dog and Puppy formula, this food is an excellent choice for active dogs who need to stay lean, especially those nearing their golden years.

Like all Blue Buffalo products, this food provides quality ingredients at an affordable price. If you’ve tried shopping for a cheaper dog food lately, here are our tricks to identifying a truly quality dog food and the best cheap dog foods that are sure to fit in your budget.

In addition to price, many customers rave about how much their pet enjoys this food.

The first two ingredients chicken and chicken meal, both excellent sources of animal protein. This is also a grain free food, making it great for sensitive dogs.

For senior dogs in need of a few more calories in their diet then this formula provides, you may consider mixing this dry food with a canned food such as Purina’s Beyond Wild.

#5. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

Most Affordable

Purina Pro Plan SPORT
Score: (4.5/5)

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High protein and fat diet for active and underweight dogs at an affordable price.
Pros

30/20 protein/fat percentage

Very affordable

Made for canine athletes

Cons

Lower quality ingredients

Contains corn

This is the the best dry dog food for weight gain you’re going to find at this price point. Not only is it easy on your wallet, but the high-calorie content is sure to help your dog maintain a solid weight.

Like our number one food, Bully Max, this one has 30% protein and 20% fat, ratios sure to put weight on even the most active dogs.

This food is specially formulated for canine athletes, making it a great choice for anyone with an active dog who struggles to keep on weight. It also contains glucosamine and EPA as an added benefit to your active dog’s joints.

This food does contain lower quality ingredients than the others on this list, including corn, by-products and animal digest. Those looking for high-quality feeds may prefer some of the other options listed here.

And unlike our number one pick, much of the protein in this food comes from the grains rather than from the animal products.

Customers enjoy this food for how quickly their dogs “bulked up” on it as well as for how much their dogs enjoy eating it.

What’s the Best Dog Food for Weight Gain?

We reviewed a lot of great, high-calorie diets for dogs. In the end, we found Bully Max High Performance Recipe to be the best dog food for weight gain. Not only does this formula contain an impressive amount of protein and fat and a calorie density not touched by its competitors, but the food is made with quality ingredients.

You’ll feel good feeding this food to your active or underweight dog. And your dog will feel good getting the high-calorie, nutritious food they need.

This food is pricier than others on the list, but the quality and calorie content is well worth the extra investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my dog really need a dog food for weight gain?
Dogs who struggle to maintain a healthy weight on normal foods or are highly active will benefit from a high-calorie food. If your dog currently needs a larger than normal serving size of traditional dog food to maintain a good weight, a special food for weight gain may be more appropriate for them.
What if my dog gains too much weight on the new diet?
If you switch your dog to a high-calorie food and they gain more weight than needed, you can try cutting back their portions. If they continue to gain weight, you may want to try a high-calorie dog food with less fat or an overall lower calorie count.
Is a high-calorie puppy food appropriate for my giant breed puppy?
Large breed puppies grow faster and longer than other breeds. According to akc.org, this accelerated growth rate makes them more sensitive to calorie and nutrient imbalances. It is important that these puppies eat foods with lower fat content. While adult giant breeds often do fine on standard high-calorie diets, you’ll want to get your puppy food marketed specifically to giant breeds.

Summed Up: The Best Dog Food for Weight Gain

Bully Max High PerformancePurina Beyond Wild High Protein AdultVictor Dog Food Active Dog and PuppyBlue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein SeniorPurina Pro Plan SPORT
Weight Gain Features30% protein, 20% fat; High calorieHigh protein and fat contentHigh calorie for adults and puppiesHigh protein30% protein, 20% fat
Ingredient Quality5/55/55/54.5/54/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$

Source

  1. Paula Fitzsimmons. “How to Help a Puppy Who Isn’t Gaining Weight.” petmd.com.
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