Best Dog Food for Weight Gain

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slim dog eating

While many dogs have a problem losing weight, others are underweight and need to gain a few pounds.

But to help your dog do that, you have to find right dog food that meets their needs, offers plenty of calories, and doesn’t make them feel sluggish. There are many things to consider when it comes to the best dog food for weight gain. 

Our favorite food is Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

It’s got everything a dog needs to make weight gain possible — including high calories and plenty of protein. 

But that’s not all. We also have formulas for puppies, seniors, and even dogs who need digestive support. This list is packed with dog foods that can aid your dog’s weight journey. Here are the best dog foods for weight gain. 

Our Best Dog Food for Weight Gain

  1. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Adults)
  2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Puppies)
  3. American Journey Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Seniors)
  4. ORIJEN Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food(Best for Small Breeds)
  5. Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food (Best for Large Breeds)
  6. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
  7. VICTOR Purpose Performance Formula Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food)
  8. Annamaet Ultra 32% Dry Dog Food (Best Premium Food)
  9. ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for Sensitive Stomachs)
  10. Ollie Beef Reicpe Dog Food (Best Fresh Food) 

10 Best Dog Foods for Weight Gain Reviewed 

Each of the brands and formulas on this list meets AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to a new food, consult with your veterinarian. 

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Freeze Dried Raw
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat, Tapioca
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 37% Crude Protein, 20.5% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 508 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-calorie dog food with omega fatty acids for heart health

If your dog struggles to gain weight, one of the easiest ways to help them is to offer them food that’s higher in calories and protein. But, you don’t want to sacrifice quality ingredients. 

Luckily, Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free dry dog food is the perfect mix of weight gain friendly nutrients and natural ingredients.

This formula starts with real animal proteins from cage-free deboned chicken, herring meal, and Menhaden ocean fish meal.

The chicken provides a lean source of protein and chondroitin, helping to build lean muscles and reinforce cartilage. And the fish meals offer plenty of omega fatty acids for joint support and heart health. 

Chicken fat and salmon oil aid in energy support. And salmon oil offers DHA and ARA for cognitive function.  

This kibble also has freeze-dried chicken liver and chicken heart. These raw proteins boost flavor to entice even the pickiest eaters. And supplemented probiotics keep their gut health safe and help fight inflammation. 

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free dog food is free of corn, wheat, soy, and chicken by-product meal. It doesn’t include any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. 

Dog owners claim this is the best food for picky pooches. And many love that it includes probiotics to aid in digestive health while supporting weight gain. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Grain-Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 36% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 423 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and grain-free puppy food with probiotics for gut health

It’s vital for puppies to grow steady and healthy. If your puppy is underweight, their bones, muscles, and joints may not grow well enough to support them as they get older. 

And, because puppies are usually more active and have higher metabolisms, they’ll need plenty of calories and protein to help them gain a few pounds. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy dry dog food is perfect for smaller pups that are underweight. It’s a high-protein, high-calorie formula with extra supplements to support whole-body wellness.   

It starts with real chicken and chicken meal. These high-quality proteins provide glucosamine and L-carnitine — aiding in solid and supple joints and healthy muscle mass. Chicken also contains a natural source of taurine, which can support heart health. 

For healthy fats, chicken fat and fish oil are added. These are crucial for puppies since they contain essential fatty acids and DHA for brain growth and development. 

While this recipe is grain-free, it does include potatoes, carrots, and pea fiber. These easy-to-digest carbohydrates provide prebiotic fiber for digestive support and nutrients like zinc for immune support. 

Blue Buffalo also includes their proprietary blend of “LifeSource Bits.” These bits contain kelp, cranberries, and more to offer antioxidants and probiotics. These support your pup’s immune system and help keep them regular.  

Puppy parents appreciate that this food contains supplemented probiotics for digestive support. And many note that it’s highly nutritious and perfect for pups who struggle to gain weight. 

American Journey Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Senior Salmon Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 329 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free senior-friendly dry dog food with healthy fats for weight gain

For many aging dogs, metabolisms slow, and they gain weight quickly. But this isn’t the case for all seniors. Some need help keeping the weight on.

If you’ve had your dog checked and there are no health issues that affect their weight, the next step is to offer them food that helps them gain some pounds. 

American Journey Grain-Free Senior dog food is the perfect balance of senior-friendly ingredients and vitamins and is high-protein and higher in calories than other senior formulas. 

This formula starts with real deboned salmon, turkey meal, and chicken meal. These offer a whopping 32% Crude Protein, which aids in muscle support and healthy weight gain. 

Coconut oil and chicken fat contain medium-chain triglycerides, omega fatty acids, DHA, and ARA. They aid in joint support and healthy skin. They also help keep your dog sharp and give them a brain boost. 

Chickpeas and pumpkin offer gentle carbohydrates, fiber, and potassium for strong bones and easy digestion. This formula also includes blueberries and marine microalgae to support your dog’s immune system for a boost of antioxidants.

Senior dog owners say this food is perfect if you have a pooch with allergies, weight gain issues, or need extra skin and coat support. 

ORIJEN Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Small Breed Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Quail, Whole Blue Whiting
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 473 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: High-calorie dog food with compact kibble size for small breeds

Small breed dogs are full of energy and spunk. Because of this, they usually need more calories and nutrients per pound than their larger counterparts. If your tiny pup has trouble keeping weight on, you’re in luck. 

For one, they don’t need to gain as many pounds to be at a healthy weight. And two, Orijen’s Small Breed Grain-Free formula meets all of their needs. 

This high-protein dog food starts with fresh and raw animal proteins — including raw free-run turkey, deboned chicken, quail, and whole blue whiting. Orijen has a “whole-prey” process that uses the entire animal. This includes the livers, hearts, gizzards, and bones — offering a high protein diet with healthy fats. 

Chicken liver, chicken fat, and pollock oil add flavor and omega fatty acids for joint support. This is crucial for smaller breeds since their bones and joints are smaller and need to stay limber. 

Instead of grains, this recipe has pinto beans, whole red lentils, and whole green lentils. They provide plenty of fiber for digestive health and vitamins like B vitamins for energy support. 

This formula is free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. 

Small dog parents love the kibble size and say even their pickiest pups gobble up this food, which is excellent to help them reach a healthy weight!

Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-product Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 407 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dry dog food with EPA for large breed joint support 

Most large dogs love food, so they have issues with weight gain and need to lose a few pounds to protect their joints.

But some need to gain weight to help them perform better as a working dog or keep up with their muscle tone. It’s a delicate balance in keeping a bigger pup at the right weight. If yours is underweight, it’s possible to help them! 

Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed dry dog food is high in calories and protein while offering moderate-fat to help build weight and keep your dog’s muscles strong. 

It starts with real chicken and fish meal. These contain natural sources of glucosamine and EPA, helping to support your pup’s joint health and mobility. And, they offer higher protein content and amino acids to help build lean muscles and aid in weight gain.  

It’s important to note that this formula isn’t grain-free. Instead, it includes rice, whole grain corn, and whole-grain wheat.

These ingredients provide gentle prebiotic fiber to help nourish healthy intestinal bacteria. But if your pooch is sensitive to grains, you may want to look into different formulas. 

This recipe contains guaranteed live probiotics to help maintain a happy tummy and a robust immune system. They’re sprinkled on the kibble after cooking to keep them fresh. 

Large breed owners say this formula is gentle on sensitive tummies but offers a high-calorie solution for underweight dogs that need plenty of nutrition. 

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Solid Gold Barking Moon Beef Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Whitefish, Beef Liver, Dried Ground Peas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 9.5% Crude Protein, 6% Crude Fat, .75% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 460 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: Grain-free wet dog food with real animal proteins and flaxseeds for picky pups

Got a picky pup? This can make it harder for them to gain weight. But, even an underweight dog loves wet food. And it can help both big and small breeds pack on a few pounds. 

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Grain-Free wet food is an excellent option for fussy pets. Not only is it high in protein, but it’s a high-calorie food that small and medium breeds could eat it exclusively.

However, you may want to use it as a topper or mix-in for larger dogs (unless you’re willing to feed them 3-4 cans a day!). 

This grain-free formula starts with deboned beef, white fish, beef liver, and egg whites. These high-protein sources also provide essential fatty acids for joint health, iron for energy, and potassium and vitamin D for strong bones. 

There are no grains in this can. Instead, pumpkin and dried ground peas offer fiber, carbohydrates, and beta-carotene for digestive support and eye health. And cranberries and spinach are packed with antioxidants for immune system support. 

This formula is free of corn, wheat, and soy. It doesn’t include any artificial fillers like flavors or colors. 

Dog moms and dads say this canned food is perfect for picky adult dogs and seniors. And, many appreciate that it’s grain-free for sensitive canines.

VICTOR Purpose Performance Formula Dry Dog Food

VICTOR Purpose Performance
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Millet, Chicken Fat, Blood Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 3.8% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 399 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: Gluten-free and affordable high-protein dog food with glucosamine for joint support 

Need your dog to gain weight, but don’t want to spend a fortune feeding them bag after bag of premium and high-quality dog food? Instead of hurting your wallet, get a cost-effective alternative that still offers top-quality ingredients and plenty of vitamins and nutrients. 

Victor Purpose Performance dry dog food is the perfect blend of prime ingredients and affordability. And it still offers a high-protein and high-calorie diet, along with supplemented probiotics, for all adult dogs who need to gain weight and have proper digestive support. 

This formula is made with 81% meat proteins. In other words, your dog is getting real meat and plenty of it. It starts with top-end beef, chicken, and pork meals.

And these meals come directly from US-grown meat, bones, and organs. They are high in glucosamine and chondroitin for long-term joint health and cartilage protection. 

Chicken fat provides omega fatty acids for digestion and heart health. And it also boosts your dog’s energy while helping them with weight gain. 

Whole grain millet and grain sorghum are gentle carbohydrates packed with prebiotic fiber. These keep your pup’s tummy happy, while providing vitamins like thiamin for improved cognitive function. 

This dog food brand has a “VPRO Blend” that offers chelated vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to boost immunity and digestive health. 

Canine owners for many different breeds love that this food is suitable for small and large dogs. After switching, quite a few owners noticed a difference in their dog’s activity levels and were able to help them reach a healthy weight. 

Annamaet Ultra 32% Dry Dog Food

Annamaet Ultra 32%
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Whole Dry Eggs, Herring Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 3% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 480 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: High-fat and high-calorie premium dry dog food for athletic dogs and working dogs

Performance, working, and highly active dogs need plenty of calories and protein. This helps them keep their muscles and even aids in weight gain. 

If you’ve noticed that you have an underweight dog, but they don’t have health problems, the issue might be that they aren’t getting enough calories to sustain their workload. That’s where Annamaet Ultra 32% dry dog food comes in. 

This premium formula is an “ultra” energy-dense formula. It has the highest protein and fat levels of any Annamaet recipe. And, if you look at this list, it’s got some of the highest levels out of all of the foods. 

It starts with high-quality real chicken and herring meat meals. These contain L-carnitine, which can help your dog utilize more fat and maintain (or grow) lean muscle mass. Marine microalgae and menhaden fish oil create a high-fat formula and provide omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health. 

While this food doesn’t contain wheat, it does have millet. This grain is rich in potassium and iron for an energy boost and bone support. However, be careful if your dog has kidney issues, since many can’t process too much potassium and calcium. 

This gluten-free recipe is made in the US and doesn’t contain artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. 

Pet owners admit that this food is undoubtedly high-value but worth every penny for working dogs. They love the ingredients and how much energy it gives their active dogs. 

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ACANA Singles LID Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Lamb Liver, Sweet Potato, Whole Chickpeas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 31% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 371 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient dry dog food with novel proteins for sensitive stomachs

For some dogs, a sensitive stomach may be blamed for weight loss. When food doesn’t agree with your pup, they may pick at it, throw it up, or avoid it altogether.

This can wreak havoc on their digestive system and cause other symptoms like weight loss. So, if your dog has a sensitive tummy or food allergies, what do you do?

Start with a limited ingredient diet. And, make sure it avoids ingredients like animal proteins that cause flare-ups (common ones are beef and chicken) and grains. 

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free dry dog food contains 15 natural ingredients. And it also offers a mono-protein formula for dogs who can’t handle certain animal products. 

This formula starts with real deboned lamb, lamb meal, and lamb liver. It still packs a powerful protein punch at 31% Crude Protein but won’t upset your dog’s tummy. And, for digestive support, ACANA supplements probiotics and real pumpkin for prebiotic fiber. 

The higher calorie count also provides plenty of nutrition for dog owners trying to get their pups to gain weight. 

This recipe is grain-free and doesn’t include peas, corn, or plant-protein isolates.

Pet parents love that this food doesn’t cause sensitivities with their dogs. And, they agree that it’s an excellent option for dogs of all sizes. 

Ollie Beef Recipe Dog Food

Ollie beef
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Peas, Sweet Potato, Potato, Carrot
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 9% Crude Protein, 7% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 70% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 192.50 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: Customized fresh dog food made with human-grade ingredients 
Get 50% OFF your first Ollie order!

Have you ever looked at making your dog’s food homemade or switching them to a raw-food diet? Instead of doing all the work yourself, human-grade dog food that’s cooked fresh like Ollie. 

This dog food starts with real ingredients, is customized to your dog’s specific needs (like weight gain needs), and is shipped directly to your door every 2-4 weeks. 

To get started, you’ll take their quick online quiz. You’ll answer questions about your pup’s height, weight, activity level, and what your goals for them are.

Then, Ollie calculates their nutritional needs (more calories, more protein, and more) to create a healthy diet just for them. 

After that, you can choose between their four different recipe options — beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey. You can also pick all four if you want to let your dog try them all! 

Ollie ships the food fresh within 24 hours of preparing it. Each order comes with a feeding guide, storage container, and scoop to make mealtime easy. 

Dog owners love spoiling their pups with this customized dog food. After switching, many noticed a difference in their dogs’ weight, energy, coat, digestion, and more. 

puppy dog playing

How To Buy Food To Help Your Dog Gain Weight

When you’re ready to buy dog food to help your pup with weight gain, here’s what to look for. 

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Underweight?

The easiest way to tell if your dog is underweight is to rub your hands along their chest and back. Can you feel your dog’s ribs, and are their ribs poking out severely? Can you feel their spine easily? If so, they may be underweight. 

You can also compare your dog’s weight to the “average” weight of their breed, height, and age. Of course, these numbers vary, so be sure to also check with your vet if you suspect your dog is underweight. 

What Causes Weight Loss in Dogs?

There are quite a few issues that can cause weight loss in dogs. These include: 

  • Parasites 
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Cancer 
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Gastrointestinal issues 

These health problems will come with other symptoms, like lethargy, vomiting, loose stool, and even whining. But no matter what, it’s essential to take your dog to the vet if you’ve noticed they’re losing weight. 

How to Help Your Dog Gain Weight?

If you’re trying to get your dog to gain a few pounds, there are a few things you can try. 

First, be sure to talk to your veterinarian. They will give you advice and point you in the right direction to help your dog reach their ideal weight. 

You can try switching your dog’s food to a diet that’s higher in calories, proteins, and fats. And, adding a topper or wet food can entice them to eat if they’re a picky eater. 

Give them smaller meals more often, so they are eating consistently. Feed them two or three times instead of just one meal a day.

This can increase their overall consumption and energy. And, feel free to give them higher calorie treats more often, especially if you’re training them or teaching them tricks. 

Also, don’t be afraid to increase their activity level. When dogs are active, they want to eat more. If your dog is sedentary, add in 30 minutes or so of daily activity. 

What to Look for When Buying Dog Food for Weight Gain 

Want a dog food that can help your pooch with weight gain? Here are the top two things to look for. 

High Calories

First, your dog needs calories to sustain their energy. And, the more calories they consume and store, the better chance they have of gaining weight. 

Now, the number of calories your dog needs will be dependent on their current height and weight and how much you want them to gain to be at a healthy size.

And, you should increase their calories over time. Don’t immediately double their calories in one day — that can cause stomach upset. Instead, try upping their calories by 5 to 10 calories per pound over a few days. 

For example, if they currently eat 1,000 calories a day and weigh 80 pounds, you’ll want to add 400-800 calories to their diet overall.

On day one, add in 200 calories. On day two, add in another 200 calories (for a total of 400 extra calories). And keep doing this until they reach the 1,800 calories they need. 

High Protein

Another critical factor in your dog’s nutrition is protein. And a higher protein diet can help them with weight gain, maintain muscle mass, and stay fit.

Plus, protein is a secondary source of energy for dogs, helping them in daily activities — which can increase their appetite too! 

Adding more protein to your dog’s diet will depend on their needs. It will be based on their breed, weight, height, and activity level.

But dog foods over 25% Crude Protein typically fall under the “high-protein” category. So switch to one of those options and see how well your dog does with it. 

Keep in mind that if your dog has a kidney problem and is losing weight, they should have high calories but low protein. Be sure to speak with your vet about the best food options for them. 

Our Verdict

See? Supporting your pup and helping them with weight gain doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many recipes out there that can help. 

Our number one choice is Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

It’s packed with flavor, is high calorie for small and large breeds, and can even be fed to dogs of different life stages. 

But there’s nothing wrong with having options. All of the foods on this list can help your dog gain the pounds back — you just have to pick their favorite. 


Want to know more about weight gain and how to help your pup? Here are the answers to your common questions! 

How many times each day should I feed my dog when I want him to gain weight? 

Feeding your dog twice a day should be sufficient. If they are a puppy or need significantly more calories for weight gain, you may want to split their portions to three times a day. 

What’s the best dog food to put weight on a dog?

Any dog food with high calories, high protein, and healthy fats can help put weight on a dog. Our favorite is Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog food. But the rest of the options on this list are great choices too. 

Do dogs lose weight with age?

It’s possible. As the body slows down, your dog needs less energy, so they may eat less. And, if they have poor digestion or diseases, this can cause weight loss. Be sure to check with your veterinarian if you notice your dog is losing pounds. 

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Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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