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8 Best High Calorie Dog Foods – 2023 Reviews & Top Picks

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Not many people adore skinny dogs, but before you attempt to get your pet on any type of high-calorie food or diet, visit the vet first so they can evaluate the pooch for any underlying disorders.

If the vet advises you to get the animal on a calorie-dense diet, you obviously need to look for quality high-calorie dog food.  Unfortunately, 50 % of dogs in the US are overweight.1 This means that most manufacturers are now more concerned with creating low-calorie formulas.

As such, finding quality calorie dense formulas will take some digging.

Fortunately, you do not have to. We have compared numerous products on the market today to bring you these reviews of the best high-calorie dog foods.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites (2023 Update)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
American Journey Healthy Weight American Journey Healthy Weight
  • 337 calories per cup
  • Grain- and soy-free
  • Contains L-carnitine
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina ONE SmartBlend Purina ONE SmartBlend
  • Balanced diet
  • Tested for safety
  • Affordable
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Crave High Protein Grain-Free Crave High Protein Grain-Free
  • Mimics diet of dog ancestors
  • Does not contain fillers
  • Premium quality
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight
  • High protein content
  • Contains omega fatty acids
  • No filler ingredients
  • Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Ziwi Peak Air-Dried
  • Air-dried process
  • High protein content
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
  • The 8 Best High Calorie Dog Foods

    1. American Journey Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    American Journey Healthy Weight Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    American Journey is one of the most popular brands in the dog food industry, thanks to the high-quality nature of their offerings. This healthy weight grain-free dry food is a good example of why American Journey has that reputation.

    For starters, this product contains 337 calories per cup, consisting of 30% protein, 10% fat, 10% fiber, 10% moisture, with the rest being essential minerals and vitamins. The calorie count is not excessive, meaning that there is a less likelihood of this formula encouraging obesity.

    Additionally, this product contains ingredients such as L-carnitine that promote fat loss to ensure that most of the added weight is quality mass. Thanks to its substantial amounts of fiber in its composition, this food keeps your doggo fuller for longer, thus discouraging overeating.

    It also contains vital compounds such as chondroitin and glucosamine, to keep joint and mobility issues at bay.

    Another great thing about this meal is that it is made from foods that your dog will love. Talk about chicken, kelp, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Moreover, it is grain-free and does not contain any by-products.

    You need to know that weight gain from this product is gradual. Therefore, do not expect overnight changes. The good news is that all the gained weight will be nothing but quality muscle mass. These are just a few reasons why we have the American Journey Healthy Weight Grain-Free Dry Dog Food as our top pick.

    • 337 calories per cup
    • High-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients
    • Grain- and soy-free
    • No by-products and artificial preservatives or flavors
    • Substantial fiber content to encourage fullness to prevent overeating
    • Contains L-carnitine to promote fat loss
    • Changes are gradual

    2. Purina ONE Healthy Weight Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Weight

    With up to 320 calories per cup, this dense calorie formula from Purina ONE is another great product to use when looking to bring up your dog’s weight the correct way. It comes with a decent protein content of 27%. It also contains 12% fat, 5.5% fiber, and 12% moisture. As you can tell from that composition, this meal does not look to make your pooch fat; rather, it focuses on improving its body mass.

    The primary ingredient in this product is turkey, which provides it with great taste. Of course, turkey is also an excellent source of high-quality protein. Moreover, the Purina ONE SmartBlend also contains a healthy dose of fiber to keep your pup fuller for longer, in addition to essential vitamins and antioxidants to boost its overall health.

    What’s more, all Purina ONE products are tested for quality and safety. Therefore, be rest assured that your pooch’s health will not be at risk here.

    The only concern you should have about this product is that the kibble size might be a little big for smaller dogs, which is what prevented it from taking the top spot on this list. With that said, the Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Weight High Protein Formula is arguably the best high-calorie dog food for the money.

    • 320 calories per cup with minimal fat content
    • High-quality protein from turkey
    • Full of vitamins and antioxidants
    • Balanced diet
    • Tested for safety
    • Affordable
    • Kibble size could be smaller

    3. Crave High Protein Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Premium Choice

    Crave with Protein from Salmon & Ocean

    This dog meal by Crave contains 424 calories per cup, making it one of the most calorie-dense products on the market. Its composition includes 34% protein, 17% fat, 3.5% fiber, and 10% moisture.

    What this means is that it is ideal for quenching the high metabolisms of dogs that are particularly active.

    Crave has formulated this meal to mimic the diet of your pup’s ancestors. It consists of white fish, chicken meal, fish meal, pork meal, lentils, and split peas. This allows your doggo to enjoy a meal that they are genetically programmed to eat. Moreover, this dog food is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to boost overall health.

    You will also appreciate that this product does not contain potentially dangerous filler products such as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

    However, this product is too calorie-dense for large dog breeds, which is why we did not choose it as the overall best pick despite its high quality. Nonetheless, for active medium-sized and small dogs, the Crave High Protein Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is as premium as it gets. And its price reflects that.

    • Mimics diet of dog ancestors
    • Grain-free
    • High-quality protein from white fish
    • Does not contain fillers
    • Comes with numerous vitamins and minerals for overall health
    • Premium quality
    • Not ideal for large breeds
    • Pricey

    4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo 800378 Wilderness Healthy Weight

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness pride themselves in creating formulas inspired by the natural diets of canine ancestors. These diets consisted of high amounts of protein and are free of grains. This particular product comes with a protein content of 30% and a fat fiber and moisture content of 13%, 10%, and 10%, respectively. This ensures that your pup has all it needs for optimal growth.

    Again, to prevent fat gain, this product has L-carnitine. This nutrient not only helps boost metabolism to burn fat but also promotes the development of lean muscle tissue.

    The meat in this formula comes from deboned chicken, thus ensuring that your pup enjoys every morsel of the meal. It also contains a host of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for a stronger immune system.

    In addition to being grain-free, this product also does not contain any corn, soy, wheat, or meat by-products. However, some dogs might not enjoy this particular flavor. The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food contains 353 calories per cup.

    • High protein content from chickens
    • Contains omega fatty acids for healthier skin and coat
    • Minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for better health
    • Grain-free
    • Does not contain filler ingredients
    • The flavor might not be appealing to all dogs

    5. Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food

    6Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried Dog Food

    Ziwi is a New Zealand-based manufacturer that is quickly becoming one of the most popular brands in the dog food industry. This particular offering is extremely calorie dense, containing up to 312 calories per scoop, not cup. This formula also contains one of the highest protein concentrations of any dog meal at 38%. The fat content is also quite high, at 30%.

    Even if your furry friend is choosy, they will find this meal tasty as it contains a blend of fresh meat, organs, green mussels, and bones. It has glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, as well as taurine for heart health.

    Thanks to air-drying technology, this Ziwi meal preserves its ingredients naturally, thus eliminating the need for preservatives. It also eliminates the need for rehydration, as air-dried kibbles contain more moisture than ordinary dry kibble. This particular formula contains 14% moisture.

    However, this product is one of the most expensive formulas on the market.

    • Meat from free-range grass-fed animals
    • Air-dried process eliminates the need for preservatives
    • High protein content
    • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
    • Expensive

    6. Wellness Complete Health Senior Dry Dog Food

    7Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

    This product by Wellness Complete has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of aging dogs. With 416 calories per cup, this formula is incredibly calorie-dense, thus promising fast weight gain. One cup of this meal contains 22% protein, 10% fat, 4.25% fiber, and 10% moisture. The rest consists of a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that work to enhance the dog’s health.

    This meal is quite delicious thanks to tasty ingredients such as deboned chicken, carrots, blueberries, and apples. It also contains chondroitin and glucosamine for healthier joints and taurine for better heart health.

    Nonetheless, it might not be ideal for picky eaters.

    • Delicious formula consisting of deboned chicken
    • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints
    • Has taurine to promote heart health
    • Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for better immunity
    • Does not contain soy, corn, wheat, meat by-products, or any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
    • Might not be ideal for picky eaters

    7. VICTOR High Energy Formula Dry Dog Food

    VICTOR High Energy

    With up to 412 calories per cup, this meal by Victor Pet Foods is truly a high-energy formula. These calories comprise of 24% protein, 20% fat, 3.8% crude fiber, and 9% moisture. Other ingredients include L-carnitine, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and omega fatty acids.

    This dog meal is incredibly delicious as well, thanks to its beef meal, chicken meal, and pork meal composition.

    However, due to its high-fat content, this meal is only suitable for high-energy dogs. Therefore, do not offer it to a large breed pooch, unless it is a working dog.

    • Tasty formula
    • Extremely calorie dense
    • Fortified with minerals and vitamins to promote overall health
    • High-fat content

    8. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Dry Dog Food

    6Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

    This product by Earthborn contains 400 calories in every cup, consisting of 32% protein, 18% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture.

    The primary ingredient in this formula is bison meal to provide your pet with a high-quality source of protein. It also contains eggs, which are another excellent source of protein. To ensure that your dog stays lean despite gaining mass, this food also contains L-carnitine. Then there’s omega fatty acids that help to promote a healthier skin and coat.

    Don’t forget that this product also contains a host of vitamins and minerals to promote the overall health of your dog. However, there is a chance that a dog who is a picky eater might reject it.

    • High protein content
    • Contains loads of vitamins and minerals
    • Some dogs might not like it

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    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best High Calorie Dog Food

    If you think that a dog is underweight, the first step should be to consult the opinion of a vet. You should only start feeding your pooch calorie-dense foods after the vet has okayed it. This is because most dog foods contain incredibly high amounts of calories, as is. Therefore, unless you are sure about a dog’s issue, feeding them a high-calorie diet can quickly result in obesity.

    In this buyer’s guide, we shall discuss common triggers for weight loss in dogs, as well as how to choose the best high-calorie food.

    Reasons for Weight Loss in Dogs

    An emaciated dog should be a cause of worry because it shows that something is wrong with doggie. The following are some of the causes of weight loss in dogs.


    There are two aspects two malnutrition, an incredibly low-calorie diet or a diet that is lacking in certain essential nutrients. A dull coat, bad dentures, and poor overall health characterize the latter. The former, however, means that the pooch is not getting enough food. This is common among stray dogs or mistreatment by owners.


    When pooches are experiencing some form of stress, they tend to lose weight drastically. This is because dogs have to be comfortable to eat. Therefore, if it is anxious over something, it might not eat as it is supposed to, thereby resulting in weight loss. Some common symptoms of stress in dogs include continuous barking, digging, chewing, and howling.

    Dental Issues

    Dental problems such as abscesses can impede a pup’s ability to chew due to the pain. Therefore, if your doggie hasn’t been eating lately, check out its teeth first to make sure that there no problems there.


    When is the last time you dewormed your pup?  Parasites such as tapeworms can lead to weight loss. This is because intestinal parasites live off the nutrients from the dog’s food. What this means is that your dog will be getting little benefit from the food it eats. A parasite infestation can also lead to persistent diarrhea, which will affect your animal negatively.

    Other Factors to Consider When Purchasing High-Calorie Dog Food

    Different products have differences in compositions and quality. As a result, some are better than others when it comes to bringing your dog’s weight up safely. To ensure that what you purchase is safe, consider the following things.

    Calories per Cup

    Most dog foods on the market contain high amounts of calories in their servings. Therefore, a high-calorie dog meal should be above the norm. As a rule of thumb, any food that offers more than 300 calories per cup is considered calorie-dense.

    Healthy Boxer
    Image credit: No-longer-here, pixabay

    Protein Content

    Upon noticing that their pup is underweight, most people’s first instinct is to increase the quantity of food. However, could it be that your food is not meeting the dog’s nutritional needs?

    When it comes to high-calorie dog foods, look for a product that contains high amounts of protein in its composition. This is because protein is the primary bodybuilding nutrient in canines. A significant amount of those calories will go into building lean mass, rather than being stored as fat.

    Quality Over Quantity

    To entice consumers, some dog food manufacturers put high amounts of filler ingredients in their products to increase their quantity without increasing the price. Therefore, do not simply go for a product because it looks like a cost-effective option.

    Instead, check out the ingredient label first to ensure that it is not laden with filler products such as corn, soy, and wheat.

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    There are numerous reasons why a dog could be underweight. The fact remains that something has to be done about it. As mentioned previously, first take him or her to the vet for a check-up so you can get a professional opinion.

    High-calorie dog foods will bring your dog’s weight up in a very short time. However, you must be careful, as they can take your pooch from underweight to overweight in the blink of an eye. Therefore, ensure to keep the pup active during that period.

    After comparing numerous offerings on the market, we found the American Journey Healthy Weight Grain-Free Dry Dog to be the best of its kind. It is not too calorie-dense, and it contains all the ingredients necessary to bring a dog’s weight up in a healthy manner.

    If you are on a budget, consider the Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Weight High Protein Formula. It is made of high-quality protein and is one of the safest high-calorie dog foods available today. The other products in our reviews are great options as well.

    See also:

    Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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