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What's the Best Dog Food for Weight Gain?

Understanding the Need for Weight Gain in Dogs

While overweight pets often receive more attention, some dogs struggle to maintain a healthy weight or need to regain weight lost due to illness. For healthy dogs, increasing their weight can be as simple as feeding them a bit more of their regular diet. However, for dogs that are finicky or need to gain a significant amount of weight, the process can be more complex. Here’s what to look for in a dog food for weight gain and some tips to help your dog gain weight safely.

Key Features of Dog Food for Weight Gain

A good dog food for weight gain should be appealing, nutritious, and easily digestible. Here are some important traits to consider:

Palatability: Dogs are more likely to eat food that tastes good. Wet foods tend to be more palatable than dry foods, and diets higher in fat and protein are often more appealing. Homemade diets are also highly palatable, but it’s essential to work with a veterinary nutritionist to ensure they are nutritionally balanced.

Digestibility: This measures how much of the food can be utilized by the dog versus how much is eliminated. Highly digestible foods mean dogs can reap more nutritional benefits from smaller amounts. While you can’t directly assess digestibility from a label, high-fiber foods are less digestible, so it's best to avoid them. Check the consistency of your dog’s stools; firm, well-formed stools indicate good digestibility.

Calorically Dense: Foods that pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food are ideal. This means your dog doesn’t have to eat much to get a lot of calories. Information about a food’s caloric density is usually available on the label, expressed in kcal/cup, kcal/can, or kcal/kg. High-fat foods are generally more calorically dense than low-fat foods.

Higher Protein Levels: Protein supports lean body mass, making it an essential component of a diet for weight gain.

Recommended Dog Foods for Weight Gain

Therapeutic Diets: In extreme cases, veterinarians may prescribe critical care or recovery foods designed to help dogs maintain energy levels while recovering from illness, surgery, or injury. Examples include Hill's Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets CN Critical Nutrition, and Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Recovery RS.

Puppy or All Life Stages Foods: These foods are usually higher in protein and fat than adult dog foods. High-quality, AAFCO-compliant options include Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy, Merrick Grain-Free Lamb and Sweet Potato Recipe, and Adirondack 30% High-Fat Puppy and Performance Recipe. Avoid large-breed puppy foods as they tend to be lower in fat.

Performance Diets: For highly active dogs, performance diets that are high in protein and fat help maintain body condition. Examples include Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Formula and Dr. Tim's Highly Athletic Momentum Formula.

Tips for Helping Your Dog Gain Weight

  1. Consult Your Veterinarian: Discuss your concerns with your vet to ensure your dog needs to gain weight and to receive personalized recommendations.

  2. Gradual Transition: Introduce your dog to the new food gradually to prevent gastrointestinal issues like pancreatitis, which can be triggered by a rapid switch to a high-fat diet.

  3. Consider Wet vs. Dry Food: Wet foods are often more palatable, but dry foods are usually more calorically dense. Mixing a small amount of wet food with dry food can provide the benefits of both.

  4. Frequent Small Meals: Feed your dog multiple small meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals. This can encourage your dog to eat more. Leaving dry food out all day is another option but may make it harder to monitor their appetite.

Ensuring your dog maintains a healthy weight is crucial for their overall well-being. With the right approach and proper nutrition, you can help your dog gain weight safely and effectively. For more tips and advice, visit

dog getting dinner
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