Underweight pups can have low energy levels, thinning fur, and a lethargic attitude. There are many reasons why your pet loses weight, but helping them gain it back is always the best way to solve the issue.
However, only adding empty calories and fat to their diet is not the way to go. You should provide your canine with vitamins and minerals while increasing healthy fats and protein to get them back to their regular size.
The best way to accomplish this is by finding a dog food that will promote weight gain. Though it is not as common as food for overweight dogs, there are healthy options available. To help you find the best one, we have reviews of six of our favorites below.
In this article, we will share vital details about the nutrition, flavors, essential ingredients, fat content, and much more for each food. We also have a buyer’s guide with extra tips on how to get your pet’s body weight back to where it should be.
Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024
|Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula
|Crave Grain-Free Adult
|Bully Max High Performance
|Merrick Backcountry Grain Free
|Wellness CORE Wet Canned
The 6 Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain
1. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
Our first pick is the Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food. It is a chicken-flavored formula available in a 4 or 24-pound bag. It’s made without grains and is part of the 30/20 formula, meaning it has 30% protein and 20% fat. This will help keep your pet fit while also stimulating their appetite. The brand also uses real chicken as the first ingredient and eggs to boost lean and healthy protein levels.
Purina Pro Plan is made without any corn, wheat, or soy. It contains no artificial ingredients or poultry by-products, as well. You will find EPA, omega-3, and antioxidants to promote a healthy lifestyle.
What’s more, the formula contains glucosamine that can help relieve joint pain, which will allow your dog to be more active. Additionally, Pro Plan is designed to promote strength and endurance.
It’s made in the USA and can be fed to all breeds, ages, and sizes. It’s easy to digest and will help your slim pup gain weight. Overall, Pro Plan is the best dog food for weight gain.
2. Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Value
For pet owners on a budget, the Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food is a great option. This is a salmon and ocean fish recipe that is grain-free and comes in either a 4, 12, or 22-pound bag. With real salmon as the first ingredient, Crave provides your pet with 34% healthy protein. Not only that, but the quality of carbohydrates in the ingredients will give their weight an extra boost.
Crave is made without chicken by-products, corn, wheat, or soy protein. It also contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Unfortunately, it has pea protein at the top of the list, which is used as a filler and protein booster.
However, you will find calcium, vitamins, and minerals to help with a healthy coat, immune system, and digestive tract. It is also suited for all dogs over 1 year of age and all breeds and sizes. Crave has nutritional benefits and great fat, fiber, and calorie levels. In general, it is the best dog food for weight gain for the money.
3. Bully Max High-Performance Dog Food – Premium Choice
If you are looking for a premium option to help your canine gain weight, the Bully Max High Performance Dog Food is the way to go. It is a dry meal that comes in either a 15 or 40-pound bag. It’s made in the USA and is another 30/20 formula that provides your pet with healthy protein and good fat levels. It’s suitable for puppies and adults, and it is meat-based with real chicken, beef, or fish as the first ingredient.
You will find 535 calories per cup of food. That, combined with the protein and fat levels, will have your pup gaining weight right away. Also, the formula contains other healthy nutrients like omega-3 and 6, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, and DHA to promote their overall health. There is no corn, wheat, or soy in the recipe.
The Bully Max is more expensive than your average dog food. On the other hand, the recipe is designed for muscle growth, weight gain, and endurance. The brand has never been recalled, and the all-natural ingredients are human-grade. The only other drawback is that it is harder to digest.
4. Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
The Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a USA-cooked meal made with chunks of real freeze-dried raw meat. It’s available in a 4, 12, or 22-pound bag with deboned beef as the first ingredient.
Merrick dog food is made without any grains or gluten. The formula is all-natural, plus it has 38% protein. Unfortunately, though the protein levels are good, the fat and fiber content are not where they should be.
The calorie content is 392 per cup, which is low for a weight-gain formula. On the other hand, this meal is poultry-free, making it a good option for dogs with sensitive stomachs. This formula is designed for all dogs of all ages.
However, the ingredients contain potato and pea protein, which is used as a filler and protein booster. Fortunately, you will also find omegas, glucosamine, and chondroitin to promote healthy skin, fur, and joints.
5. Wellness CORE Wet Canned Dog Food
In the number five spot, we have the Wellness CORE Wet Canned Dog Food. This is a grain-free formula that is also meant to be a weight-control meal. It is made with high-quality protein, yet there are high levels of pea flour and fiber. These two ingredients are used to boost the protein levels but are not as nutritionally complete as meat protein.
Wellness CORE does not contain wheat, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. On the other hand, to promote your pet’s overall health, you will find vitamins A, B-12, and D3. However, it does not have as many nutrients and other essential items as other brands we’ve discussed.
Wellness dog food comes in a 12-pack of 12.5-ounce cans. It has lower protein levels at 11% and lower fat content at 3.5%, although this is standard for wet formulas. In general, this meal is better suited for weight loss than weight gain, even though it is meant to help with both issues.
It is also important to note that Wellness CORE has fewer calories than most formulas for weight gain. Finally, another ingredient we found high on the list is carrageenan, which has no nutritional value and can be hard to digest. It’s typically used as a cost-efficient filler.
6. Nulo Limited Plus Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Our final pick is the Nulo Limited Plus Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. It’s available in a 4, 10, or 22-pound bag and has a salmon, Alaskan Pollock, and turkey flavor. One thing to keep in mind with this formula, however, is it’s designed for puppies and adult small breeds only. Besides that, it is a LID food that is high in protein and low in carbs.
When you need your pet to gain weight, it’s essential to have the right balance of protein, fat, fiber, and calories. In this case, the calories and fat content are on the low side for bulking up. On the other hand, it is a good option if your pet suffers from allergies or stomach sensitivities. There is no chicken, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, peas, white potatoes, or tapioca in the formula. It is also a non-GMO meal.
Nulo also contains added vitamins and minerals to promote healthy digestive and immune health. The downside is that all the ingredients and supplements are ineffective at making your pet gain weight. Not only that, but the meal is hard to digest, and the kibble can be hard to chew for dogs with brittle teeth. Overall, Nulo is our least favorite brand for weight gain.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Food for Weight Gain
Important Facts About Canine Weight Gain
Having an underweight pup can be just as concerning as a dog that is overweight. Coaxing them into a better diet is a great way to beef them up and keep them active, but finding the reason for the weight drop is also essential.
For the most part, there are three reasons why your pet might lose pounds. Take a look at these scenarios below.
How To Get Your Dog To Gain Weight
It can be hard to determine whether your dog is underweight or not. The best way to get an accurate answer is to visit your vet. Each dog is different, so what is considered normal for other pups may not be for your pet. However, there are some signs you can look for. Take a look at the picture below. From an overhead view, your dog’s body should be slimmer in the belly (by the hips), and you should see their rib outline.
If your pet is on the slim side, finding healthy food that will help them gain weight is a great place to start. It’s crucial to find meals that are high in protein and fat. Many brands use the 30/20 formula, which equates to 30% protein and 20% fat, although you can deviate from this depending on your pet’s needs.
Besides food, however, there are some other tricks and tips you can use to pack on the pounds.
The most important factor to watch out for is a dramatic change in your pet’s food consumption and weight. If they suddenly stop eating or they drop a lot of body mass quickly, you should contact your veterinarian right away to rule out other more severe conditions.
We hope our reviews have helped you find a good weight-gaining formula for your pet. When faced with a possibly underweight pup, the last thing you want to do is worry about which dog food is best for their condition. Overall, we recommend the Purina 17048 Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food.
It is packed with healthy proteins and fat that will energize your pet and provide other essential nutrients. If you need something less costly, however, we recommend the Crave 10164796 Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food. This tasty formula is packed with vitamins and minerals, and the protein, fats, and carbohydrates will have your pup ready for “harness season” in no time.
Featured Image: currens from Pixabay