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10 Best Diet Dog Foods for Weight Loss in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

fat golden retriever

It happens to even the most well-intentioned of pet owners: you look down one day and realize your dog has gotten fat.

Or, more likely, your vet tells you your dog has gotten fat, and instructs you to help him lose a few pounds.  Regardless of the reason why, if you’re trying to convince your dog to shed some weight, it makes sense to switch him to a weight-loss dog food.

That’s easier said than done, though. It seems like you have to be an expert in canine nutrition to decipher food labels and determine which one is best for your pooch. That’s why we did the work for you, digging through several of the top weight-loss formulas on the market to find our favorites.

In the reviews below, we’ll show you which ones will help your dog start looking lean and trim again — and which ones will only lighten your wallet.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Merrick Healthy Weight Merrick Healthy Weight
  • Feature iconVaried animal sources
  • Feature iconHigh in protein
  • Feature iconLots of glucosamine
  • Best Value
    Second place
    NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Healthy Weight NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Healthy Weight
  • Feature iconGentle on stomachs
  • Feature iconHas chicken fat for glucosamine
  • Feature iconFull of important amino acids
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Earthborn Holistic Natural Earthborn Holistic Natural
  • Feature iconNo grains or potatoes
  • Feature iconUses complex carbs like peas and tapioca
  • Feature iconLots of high-quality fruits and veggies
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight
  • Feature iconPacked with protein
  • Feature iconMost dogs enjoy flavor
  • Feature iconLots of omega fatty acids
  • Wellness Complete Health Wellness Complete Health
  • Feature iconFilled with omega fatty acids
  • Feature iconSmall kibble
  • Feature iconGentle on tummies
  • The 10 Best Dog Foods for Weight Loss – Reviews 2021

    1. Merrick 38360 Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    Merrick 38360 Healthy Weight

    You won’t find any cheap fillers or animal by-products in a bag of Merrick Healthy Weight. This food uses only all-natural ingredients, which should limit the number of empty calories your dog consumes.

    There’s quite a bit of protein in this kibble (32%), and that’s borne out by looking at the ingredients list. Deboned beef is the first ingredient, but it’s far from the only animal source in here. You’ll also find chicken meal, turkey meal, and chicken fat; there’s a bit more plant protein than we’d like, but that’s a minor quibble at best.

    Those meals are especially important, as they’re full of glucosamine for joint support, which pudgy dogs need. It’s also loaded with probiotics to keep your mutt’s digestive system in line.

    The fruits and veggies are fantastic as well. Sweet potatoes, apples, and blueberries are all packed with important vitamins and minerals, and your dog should love them.

    Merrick Healthy Weight isn’t a perfect dog food, but it’s extremely high-quality nonetheless. It should be great for dogs of any weight, and it’s a clear choice for our #1 spot.

    • Varied animal sources
    • High in protein
    • Filled with high-quality fruits and vegetables
    • Lots of glucosamine
    • Has probiotics for digestive health
    • More plant protein than we’d like
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    2. NUTRO Wholesome Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

    NUTRO Wholesome Essentials certainly lives up to its name, as it only uses wholesome ingredients. These include chicken, lentils, and sweet potatoes, all of which should help your pooch perform at his best.

    In addition to lean chicken, it also has chicken and lamb meal, both of which are full of important amino acids. There’s chicken fat for glucosamine, too.

    There’s lots of rice and barley inside, each of which contributes complex carbs while also being gentle on the stomach.

    The overall nutrient levels aren’t anything to write home about, but that’s to be expected in a weight-control formula. We also wish they’d used a little less salt.

    At least you won’t be paying through the nose for it, though, as it’s the best dog food for weight loss for the money, in our opinion. So, if money’s getting as tight as your dog’s pants, this weight control formula should be one of the first you consider.

    • Full of important amino acids
    • Gentle on stomachs
    • Good value for the price
    • Has chicken fat for glucosamine
    • Nutrient levels are average at best
    • High in salt
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    3. Earthborn Holistic Natural Dog Food – Premium Choice

    Earthborn 1710494 Holistic Natural

    Earthborn Holistic is as notable for what’s not in it as it is for what they actually included. It doesn’t have any grains or potatoes, so it should be gentle for even the most sensitive of dispositions.

    In lieu of cheap grains, it relies on tapioca and peas for most of its carbs. That also gives your dog some decent fiber, so he shouldn’t have any issues staying regular.

    The first ingredient is chicken meal, which means your dog should get quite a few important vitamins, but we’d like to see lean chicken in here as well, especially at this price. The overall protein level is only average, at 25%, but at least it uses clean ingredients to get there.

    It’s the fruits and veggies that make this food stand out. You’ll find blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots, spinach, and more. We also like the inclusion of taurine, which is important for heart health, and larger dogs need to keep their tickers in prime working condition.

    We’d be tempted to move this food up a space or two if it weren’t so expensive, but even so, this is a high-quality kibble that should help your dog shed excess weight.

    • No grains or potatoes
    • Uses complex carbs like peas and tapioca
    • Lots of high-quality fruits and veggies
    • Chicken meal is full of important amino acids
    • On the pricey side
    • Nutrient levels are average at best
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    4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo 800378 Wilderness Healthy Weight

    We’re not always big fans of Blue Buffalo, but their Wilderness line is fantastic, and this food is no exception.

    It’s absolutely packed with protein at 30%, and most of that comes from chicken and chicken meal, the first two ingredients. There’s also quite a bit of pea protein, though, which isn’t ideal.

    All of that protein makes this food irresistible to many dogs, too. If you’ve struggled to get your pup to eat a low-calorie food, then this is definitely worth a try.

    Other than the pea protein, there’s not a lot to dislike on the ingredients list. It has fish meal and flaxseed for omega fatty acids, chicory root for fiber, and a variety of probiotics for digestive support.

    It does have potatoes in it, which can give some dogs gas. That’s not a huge deal, but given that they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition, we’d prefer if they’d been left on the cutting room floor.

    You won’t find many foods that have more protein than Blue Buffalo Wilderness, which is why it earns one of the highest rankings on this list.

    • Packed with protein
    • Most dogs enjoy flavor
    • Plenty of fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion
    • Lots of omega fatty acids
    • Uses a lot of plant protein
    • Potatoes may cause gas
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    5.  Wellness 89118 Complete Health Dog Food

    Wellness 89118 Complete Health Dog Food

    The first three ingredients in Wellness Complete Health are all proteins of some kind, including turkey, chicken meal, and salmon meal. The overall protein levels are on the higher end of average, so your dog should get plenty of muscle-building nutrients.

    It should be gentle on your pooch’s stomach, too, as it uses oats and rice for its primary carbs. We also like the addition of salmon oil and flaxseed, both of which should add important omega fatty acids.

    This food is designed for smaller pups (well, it’s designed for smaller pups who are starting to get large, but we digress). As a result, the kibble is very small and easy for toy breeds to chew.

    That salmon oil gives this food a strong odor, though, so hold your nose as you scoop out your dog’s breakfast. The bag could use some sort of zip closure as well, as it can go bad quickly if you don’t seal it properly.

    Wellness Complete Health is one of the best small-breed weight-loss foods out there, but it’s hard to justify ranking it in the top four when it’s relatively limited in scope.

    • Filled with omega fatty acids
    • Small kibble is good for little dogs
    • First three ingredients are all protein
    • Gentle on tummies
    • Has a strong odor
    • No way to close bag
    • Can go bad quickly if not properly sealed
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    6. Natural Balance 42007 Dry Dog Food

    Natural Balance 42007 Dry Dog Food

    Don’t let your dog see the bag of Natural Balance when you bring it in the house, as it has “Fat Dogs” written in big letters on the front.

    If he can get past his hurt feelings, though, he should appreciate what he finds in this kibble. It uses a mix of chicken and salmon meal to give your dog the protein he needs, while also giving him plenty of important omega fatty acids. There’s also salmon oil in it to help with those omegas.

    You won’t find any corn or wheat in it, either, as it uses garbanzo beans, peas, and barley instead. We also like the fiber levels, which are elevated due to pea fiber and dried beet pulp.

    There’s very little fat in here, which sounds like a good thing, except it will likely keep your dog from feeling full between meals. That could lead to more begging, which translates to more snacking if your pup has a weak-willed owner.

    It uses a fair amount of plant protein as well, which doesn’t have the same nutrients your dog would get from animal sources. That’s disappointing, especially given that this food is on the pricier end of the spectrum.

    Overall, Natural Balance is a good food, but it simply doesn’t excel in any one area, which is why it doesn’t deserve to be ranked any higher than the middle of this list.

    • High in omega fatty acids
    • Good amount of fiber
    • No corn or wheat inside
    • Very little fat
    • Relies heavily on plant proteins
    • Expensive for what you get
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    7. Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Weight Control Dry Dog Food

    Purina 38100140289 Pro Plan SAVOR Weight Control

    Purina Pro Plan SAVOR has bits of tender, shredded meat mixed in with the kibble, so your pooch may not even realize he’s been put on a diet. This is definitely one of the tastier weight-control formulas.

    Chicken is the first ingredient listed, ensuring that the food is built on a solid foundation of protein. It has a decent amount of protein overall (26%), as well as average amounts of fat and fiber.

    However, after the chicken you’ll find a variety of disreputable ingredients. These include corn, soy, and wheat, all of which are difficult for many dogs to digest. Not only that, but they’re full of empty calories, which makes their inclusion in a weight-control formula strange, to say the least.

    We also don’t like the use of animal by-products. This shouldn’t necessarily affect your dog’s ability to lose weight, but feeding him low-grade meat is generally a bad idea.

    We do appreciate the inclusion of fish meal, as this packs in some necessary omega fatty acids, but it’s counterbalanced by the high sodium levels, which can encourage water retention and sabotage your mutt’s diet.

    Your dog will almost certainly thank you for feeding him Purina Pro Plan SAVOR, but his vet may not be as forgiving.

    • Has tender bits of meat mixed in with kibble
    • Chicken is first ingredient
    • Lots of omega fatty acids
    • Uses cheap fillers like corn, soy, and wheat
    • Packed with low-grade animal by-products
    • High in salt
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    8. Solid Gold Holistic Weight Control Dog Food

    Solid Gold 12304 Holistic Weight Control Dog Food

    Solid Gold Holistic takes the grain-free idea one step further by eliminating gluten altogether, making it ideal for dogs with allergies. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the food can’t quite live up to those elevated standards.

    We do like the kibble itself, which is made of puffed squares rather than boring old round chunks. This makes it interesting for your dog to crunch while also ensuring that it’s filling and satisfying.

    The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, but that could potentially be misleading, as peas make up three of the following entries. That indicates the company uses a process called “ingredient splitting,” in which they take a single ingredient and list it in a variety of ways to disguise how much is in the food.

    There’s a lot of salt in here, and the potatoes and dried eggs could cause some digestive issues. The fat levels are extremely low as well, which is disappointing.

    Overall, Solid Gold Holistic is a decent food that could have been great, but as presently constituted is only worthy of the #8 spot on this list.

    • Grain- and gluten-free
    • Kibble has interesting texture
    • May use misleading ingredient-listing technique
    • Lots of salt
    • Potatoes and eggs could cause gas
    • Very low in fat
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    9. Whole Earth Farms Weight Control Dry Dog Food

    Whole Earth Farms 85556 Weight Control Dry Dog Food

    Whole Earth Farms is a premium-priced food that nevertheless seems to use cost-control techniques while making their kibble.

    The first ingredient is chicken meal instead of lean chicken. That gives important amino acids, but it limits the amount of protein inside. After that, you’ll find potatoes, which offer little in the way of nutrition, followed by several other carb sources.

    We do like the inclusion of chicken liver, which has nutrients not found in leaner cuts of poultry. It’s followed closely by salt, though, which can sabotage weight loss efforts and isn’t good for diabetic dogs.

    Ultimately, it appears this food is better for weight control than weight loss, so it’s not ideal for pups that are trying to shed pounds. If you follow the serving directions, though, you should hopefully be able to arrest any weight gain, but at this price, you’d expect the food to do more.

    Whole Earth Farms is a good enough food on its own, but if you start considering the value you get for what you pay, it begins to drag the overall rating down a bit — especially if you’re hoping to trim up Fido’s waistline.

    • Has chicken liver
    • Can be useful for maintaining weight
    • Not intended for weight loss
    • Very carb-heavy
    • Expensive for what you get
    • High in sodium
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    10. Iams 10171570 Proactive Health Dry Dog Food

    Iams 10171570 Proactive Health Dry Dog Food

    You don’t have to wait long to find an issue with Iams Proactive Health, as the first ingredient is whole grain corn. Corn can cause issues with dogs that have sensitive stomachs, and it’s full of empty calories, which will likely sabotage your pup’s diet.

    The primary protein source is chicken by-product meal, which means it uses all the meat that’s left over after better dog foods have bought all the good stuff. That helps make this stuff cheap, but you get what you pay for.

    There are other ingredients in here we don’t like, such as egg product and artificial colors, so this food could be a nightmare for allergic pups. All of the beneficial ingredients are relegated to the bottom of the ingredients list, so there’s no telling how much they actually used.

    If money is your only criteria, then Iams Proactive Health won’t put much of a dent in your wallet. It won’t put much of a dent in the scale, either, so we can’t really recommend it to aid your dog’s weight loss efforts.

    • Very inexpensive
    • Corn is first ingredient
    • Uses cheap animal by-products
    • Has many ingredients that can irritate sensitive stomachs
    • Fruits and veggies relegated to bottom of ingredients list
    • Includes artificial colors
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    If it’s time to put your pup on a diet, we recommend feeding him Merrick Healthy Weight. It’s high in protein, as it uses a wide variety of animal sources, while also including several high-quality fruits and veggies.

    For a food that’s nearly as good and also less expensive, consider NUTRO Wholesome Essentials. It’s packed with glucosamine, which is excellent for joint health, while also offering a flavor dogs love.

    Finding a suitable dog food is difficult under the best of circumstances, but it’s even harder when your dog’s health is on the line. We hope the reviews above have made it easier for you to come to a decision, so that your dog can lose any extra weight without feeling like he’s on a diet.

    Of course, if all else fails, we bet some unscrupulous vet somewhere offers doggy liposuction.

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    Featured Image: Barbara Danázs from Pixabay