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6 Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

skinny golden retriever

The proper weight for your pooch plays a vital role in their overall health. Underweight pups can have low energy levels, thinning fur, and a generally lethargic attitude. There are many reasons why your pet may lose weight, but beefing them back up is always the best way to solve the issue.

That being said, adding non-healthy calories and fat to their diet is not the way to go. You should provide your canine with vitamins and minerals while also 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, there are some healthy options available. To help you find the best one, we have reviewed six of our favorites below.

In this article, we will share nutrition, flavors, important ingredients, fat content, and much more for each food. We will also provide a buyer’s guide with some extra tips on how to get your pet’s body weight back to where it should be.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula
  • Feature iconEffective
  • Feature icon30/20 formula
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Crave Grain-Free Adult Crave Grain-Free Adult
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • Feature iconNo artificial ingredients
  • Feature iconNo chicken by-products
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Bully Max High Performance Bully Max High Performance
  • Feature iconAll-natural
  • Feature icon30/20 effective weight gain
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Merrick Backcountry Grain Free
  • Feature iconAll-natural
  • Feature iconFreeze-dried raw beef
  • Feature icon38% protein
  • Wellness CORE Wet Canned Wellness CORE Wet Canned
  • Feature iconAll-natural formula
  • Feature iconNo artificial ingredients
  • Feature iconGrain-free
  • The 6 Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain – Reviews 2021

    1. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    Purina 17048 Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

    Our first pick is the Purina 17048 Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food. This is a chicken-flavored formula that is available in a 4 or 24-pound bag. Made without grains, this high protein food 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 along with eggs to boost lean and healthy protein levels.

    Purina 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 food contains glucosamine that can help relieve joint pain, which will let your dog be more active. Additionally, the formula is designed to promote strength and endurance.

    Made in the USA, this dog food can be given to all breeds, ages, and sizes. It’s easy to digest and will help your slim slobberer gain weight. Overall, this is our favorite option for dog food for weight gain.

    • Effective
    • 30/20 formula
    • Additional vitamins and minerals
    • No artificial ingredients
    • Grain-free
    • No poultry by-products
    • None we can see
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    2. Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    Crave 10164796 Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

    For those pet owners on a budget, the Crave 10164796 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, this food 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.

    This formula is made without chicken by-products, corn, wheat, or soy protein. It also contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Unfortunately, it does contain pea protein at the top of the list, which is used as a filler and protein booster. That being said, you will find calcium, vitamins, and minerals that will help with a healthy coat, immune system, and digestive tract. It is also suited for all dogs over one year of age, and all breeds and sizes.

    This food has nutritional benefits and great fat, fiber, and calorie levels. In general, it is the best dog food for weight gain for the money.

    • Great protein and fat levels
    • Additional vitamins and minerals
    • Grain-free
    • No artificial ingredients
    • No chicken by-products
    • Contains high levels of pea protein
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    3. Bully Max High Performance Dog Food – Premium Choice

    Bully Max High Performance Dog Food

    If you are looking for a premium option to help your pooch gain weight, the Bully Max High Performance Dog Food is the way to go. This is a dry meal that comes in either a 15 or 40-pound bag. Made in the USA, this is another 30/20 formula that provides your pet with healthy protein and good fat levels. Made for both puppies and adults, this food 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. Not only that, but this formula contains other healthy nutrients like omega-3 and 6, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, and DHA to promote their overall health. What’s more, 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 this option is harder to digest.

    • All-natural
    • 30/20 effective weight gain
    • Additional vitamins and minerals
    • Grain-free
    • Meat-based formula
    • Harder to digest
    • Expensive
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    4. Merrick 37019 Backcountry Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Merrick 37019 Backcountry Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    The Merrick 37019 Backcountry Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a USA cooked meal that is made with chunks of real freeze-dried raw meat. It’s available in a 4, 12, or 22-pound bag with real 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. What’s more, 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. You should note, however, the ingredients contain potato and pea protein, which is used as a filler and protein booster. That being said, you will also find omegas, glucosamine, and chondroitin to promote healthy skin, fur, and joints.

    • All-natural
    • effective grain and gluten-free
    • Freeze-dried raw beef
    • 38% protein
    • Additional vitamins and minerals
    • Lower calories
    • Lower fat and fiber content
    • Contains pea and potato protein
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    5. Wellness 7950 CORE Wet Canned Dog Food

    Wellness 7950 CORE Wet Canned Dog Food

    In the number five spot, we have the Wellness 7950 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 it is not as healthy.

    What you will not find in the ingredients is wheat, meat by-products, or 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, this food does not have as many nutrients and other essential items as other meals we have picked. That being said, the formula is all-natural.

    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 the calories are on the lower side to be able to help your pet beef up their body mass. 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.

    • All-natural formula
    • No artificial ingredients
    • Grain-free
    • No by-product meals
    • Contains protein-boosting fillers
    • Not an effective weight gain formula
    • Fewer vitamins and minerals
    • Contains carrageenan
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    6. Nulo 51LS22 Limited Plus Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Nulo 51LS22 Limited Plus Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Our final pick is the Nulo 51LS22 Limited Plus Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. Available in a 4, 10, or 22-pound bag, it comes in 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, this is a LID food that is high in protein and low in carbs.

    When you need your pet to gain some weight, it’s important 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, this 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 to this option is all these ingredients and supplements are not effective 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 that have brittle teeth. Overall, this is our least favorite option for dog food for weight gain.

    • LID formula
    • All-natural
    • Added vitamins and minerals
    • Lower fat and calories
    • Not effective at adding weight
    • Recommended for puppies and small breed adults only
    • Low fiber content
    • Hard to digest
    • Kibble is hard
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    Buyer’s Guide

    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 important.

    For the most part, there are three reasons why your pet might lose pounds. Take a look at these scenarios below.

    • Illness: If your dog is ill, they are most likely not going to be interested in food. Chronic illnesses can have this effect, and your vet can work with you to find a healthy solution. That being said, if your dog is otherwise healthy but dealing with an upset stomach, there is not too much cause for concern as long as they start eating again when the tummy bug has passed. On the other hand, if there is no sign of a stomach issue but your pet refuses to eat, you should consult your vet ASAP. They could have an infection or a blockage somewhere that can cause serious issues.
    • Stress: Canines are just as likely to skip a meal if they are stressed out. If there has been a recent change in their life, a new pet, or other emotional situations, it is not uncommon for your pet to ignore their food. The best thing to do is to spend some quality time with your furball to calm them down. Again, though, if they don’t start eating again, bring them to your vet right away.
    • Picky Eaters: You would be surprised at how often the food you are providing is the reason behind your dog’s lack of appetite. Some pooches are just plain picky eaters, and they have no problem going on a hunger strike until you break down and get them something they like. Many pet parents use a specific brand of food for various reasons and are leery to change. Switching up the flavor, however, can have a positive impact.

    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. That being said, there are some basic signs you can look for. Take a look at the picture below. Your dog should narrow from shoulders to hips, and you should see their rib outline.

    dog weight

    If you find your pet is on the slim side, finding healthy food that will help them gain weight is a great place to start. It’s important 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 pooch pounds.

    • Secret Ingredients: Besides the standard healthy ingredients, formulas that use pumpkin and sweet potato in their meals are a great way to help your pet gain weight. Both of these items are high in healthy fat and fiber that will promote their digestive system and energy levels.
    • Switch It Up: As we mentioned above, some dogs are just plain picky about their food. Not only that, but they can also become bored. Switching up the recipe and mealtimes can stimulate their interest and appetite. Also, if you are going to change their feeding routine, try giving them a small meal in the morning and a larger meal closer to bedtime. Like us, dogs are more likely to gain weight if they eat before sleeping. You can also try feeding them several small meals per day. Break it up into four daily dinners instead of two.
    • Relieve the Stress: We also mentioned above that stress can affect your pet’s appetite. Taking steps to relieve this issue can help them chow down. Try spending some quality time with your pet, give them positive reinforcement, and most importantly, try to figure out the stress trigger. You should also note that most dogs take their emotional cues from us. This is a great excuse to take some downtime for yourself, as well.
    • Treats: Treats are a tasty way to not only stimulate your pet’s appetite but also help them add some much-needed pounds. Give your pup healthy fats like peanut butter treats and other natural foods. Just try to stay away from highly processed snacks that have high acidity and sugar levels.
    • Exercise: This last tip can be confusing as we normally associate exercise with weight loss. Consider, however, that your dog should be mostly muscle. Providing your pet with foods high in healthy proteins and fats will give them the energy to run and play, and the muscle gain from these activities will fill out their slim figure.

    The most important thing 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 serious conditions.

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    We hope the above reviews have helped you find a good weight-gaining formula for your pet. When faced with a possibly underweight pooch, the last thing you want to do is stress over the many food options available.

    Overall, we recommend the Purina 17048 Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food. This meal is packed with healthy proteins and fat that will energize your pet while also providing other essential nutrients. If you need something less costly, however, we would opt for the Crave 10164796 Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food. This tasty formula is packed with vitamins and minerals, not to mention, the protein, fats, and carbohydrates that will have your pup ready for “harness season” in no time.

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    Featured Image: currens from Pixabay