Most dogs in the United States and many other countries worldwide are overweight and risk heart disease, diabetes, and hip dysplasia. However, if your pet was recently sick, is getting old, or has a lot of stress in its life, it could be underweight. If you need to add weight to your German Shepherd, finding a brand that will increase your pet’s weight using healthy ingredients can be challenging. We’ve chosen eight different brands to review for you so you can see the difference between them. For each one, we’ll tell you the pros and cons we experienced as well as how our dogs enjoyed it. Keep reading while we discuss the ingredients you should look for as well as those you should avoid to help you make an informed decision.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites – 2022 Update
The 8 Best Foods for a German Shepherd to Gain Weight
1. Crave High Protein Chicken Dry Dog Food– Best Overall
|Kcal per cup:||449|
Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is our pick as the best overall food for a German Shepherd to gain weight. It contains chicken as its first ingredient and provides your dog with a high protein diet (34%). Vitamin and mineral fortification help boost your pet’s immune system, and there are no artificial colors or chemical preservatives that can cause problems for some dogs.
We liked the high-quality ingredients in Crave, but like many foods that leave out corn and other grains, it can be challenging to get your dog to eat it. We had to introduce several of our dogs to this food slowly to get them adjusted.
2. Purina Pro Plan Sport – Best Value
|Kcal per cup:||484|
Purina Pro Plan Sport is our pick as the best food for a German Shepherd to gain weight for the money. It’s available in a large bag, and you can easily find it in most grocery stores. It has chicken listed as its first ingredient and provides your pet with 30% protein. Omega fats will help with brain and eye development and will also help make your pet’s coat healthy and shiny.
The downside to Purina Pro Plan Sport is that it contains corn which can upset some dog’s sensitive digestion system and doesn’t provide much nutritional value. However, most dogs like corn and the empty calories will help your German Shepherd gain weight.
3. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch – Premium Choice
|Kcal per cup:||400|
Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food is our premium choice food for German Shepherds to gain weight. It uses a herring meal to provide your pet with 32% protein, so it will have plenty of energy and the building blocks for strong muscle. It also contains real fruit and vegetables that provide your pet with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also contains omega fats and is high in fiber which will help balance your pet’s digestive system.
The downside to Earthborn Holistic is that it has a bad smell, especially if your dog likes licking your face, and some of our dogs didn’t like it.
4. Instinct Limited Ingredient Grain-Free – Best for Puppies
|Kcal per cup:||447|
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe is our pick as the best for puppies. It has limited ingredients, so there is less risk of an allergic reaction, and problems are easier to track down. It provides your pet with plenty of vitamins and minerals that supply the antioxidants and omega fats your puppy needs to grow healthy and strong. There is no corn, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives to upset your puppy’s digestive tract.
The downside to Instinct is that it can be challenging to get the dogs to eat it. It’s easier to get puppies started on this food, but our older dogs might leave it in the bowl.
5. Bully Max Muscle Food For Dogs
|Kcal per cup:||535|
Bully Max Muscle Food For Dogs is a fantastic food for adding weight to your pet. It has more than 500 calories per cup, which is more than any other brand on this list. It contains chicken as its first ingredient and provides your pet with 30% protein without any corn, soy, or wheat to your pet’s diet.
If you need to add weight to your dog quickly, this is a great choice. However, the downside to Bully Max is that it can be quite expensive, and it’s easy to feed your dog too much. If your dog is used to eating a bowl of food each day, it may not like the reduced portion size suggested on the bag.
6. Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food
|Kcal per cup:||419|
|Size:||A dozen75-ounce cans|
|Type:||Canned wet food|
Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food is the first wet food on our list, and it features beef as its first ingredient to provide your pet with plenty of protein. Its high moisture content can help relieve constipation, and its limited ingredients make it less likely your pet will have an allergic reaction. It also features no corn or other grains, nor are there any artificial colors and preservatives.
The downside to Ziwi Peak is that it is quite expensive, and it has a bad odor, especially when you first open the can. While this food is a good temporary solution when adding weight to your pet, we prefer dry kibble because it helps keep your dog’s teeth clean.
7. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free
|Kcal per cup:||392|
Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Great Plains Red Recipe is a unique brand that features freeze-dried nuggets of raw meat along with freeze-dried coated kibble. It has deboned beef listed as its first ingredient, and there is a significant amount of omega fatty acids. There are no artificial colors or chemical preservatives, and there is no corn and soy.
The downside to Merrick is that we only found a few of the raw pieces in each bag, and some of our dogs would sort through it and pick out the pieces they like, leaving the rest.
8. Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast
|Kcal per cup:||418|
Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast is a brand that features a high 34% protein content, so your dog will have plenty of energy and the building blocks for strong muscle. It contains real fruit and vegetables that provide plenty of vitamins and minerals that will help boost your pet’s health, including probiotics, which help improve the gut bacteria in your dog.
The downside to the Nature’s Logic brand is that it can cause gas in your dog, and it may also have loose stools. A few of our dogs would not eat it, and it took us several weeks of transitioning before it became a regular part of their diet.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Food For Your German Shepherd To Gain Weight
Identify the Reason for the Weight Loss
Before you can choose a food to help add weight to your pet, it’s critical to determine why your pet has lost weight. Some dogs are picky eaters, and others may be suffering from a medical condition. For a finicky dog, it might just be a matter of finding a brand that your dog enjoys and sticking with it. A medical condition is more serious and will likely require the advice of a veterinarian. In many cases, they will prescribe food, and you should follow their instructions.
Dog Food Calories
The best way to put weight on your German Shepherd is to increase its calorie intake. We recommend using brands that use high-quality ingredients and are naturally higher in calories instead of doubling portions or feeding your pet more frequently. Dogs are habit-based animals and feeding it more frequently can leave it confused later when it doesn’t need the extra food.
Wet versus Dry Dog Food
Most of the food on our list is dry kibble, but there are wet food options as well. We recommend dry food when possible because the crunching helps to scrape away tartar, slowing the progression of dental disease. Dry food is easy to store, lightweight, and is usually less expensive. Wet food is extremely rich, and most dogs prefer it. It can quickly cause your German Shepherd to gain weight, but there are problems. The high moisture content can cause gas, soft stools, and even diarrhea in some dogs, and it doesn’t help clean the teeth. In fact, the food can stick, causing any dental disease to progress faster.
Dog Food Ingredients
When choosing dog food for a German Shepherd to gain weight, we highly recommend a brand with real meat like chicken or turkey listed as the first ingredient. Real fruits and vegetables are also good, as are probiotics and omega fats. Probiotics will help boost your pet’s immune system and balance the digestive system by adding good bacteria to the gut. Omega fats will help with brain and eye development, and they help create a shiny coat. Another reason to feed your dog omega fats is that they help reduce swelling, which can be especially helpful as your dog ages and gets arthritis.
Avoid artificial colors because some dogs are allergic to them, and they don’t see color that well anyway. Chemical preservatives like BHA and BHT are also bad and can cause significant health problems for your pet over the long term. We usually recommend avoiding corn as well because it is mostly empty calories, but if your dog needs to gain weight fast, corn products can help. Just remember to eliminate them when your dog is at a healthy size.
Conclusion: Best Food For a German Shepherd To Gain Weight
When choosing a food to increase the weight of your German Shepherd, we highly recommend our pick as the best overall. Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food has chicken as its first ingredient and is naturally high in calories without resorting to corn or other low-quality ingredients. Another great choice is our pick as the best value. Purina Pro Plan Sport comes in a large bag and features chicken as its first ingredient. It also has omega fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals that will help keep your pet healthy.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this list and found a few brands you would like to try out. If we have helped you get your dog back to its ideal size, please share this guide to the best foods for a German Shepherd to gain weight on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock