The Best Dog Food For Weight Gain in 2022—Reviewed and Ranked

Written by Liz Coleman
Updated: August 5, 2022

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Key Points:
  • To aid your pup’s weight gain, look for foods high in protein and fat.
  • Undoubtedly, dog food with a pleasant taste will help your pup pack on the pounds!
  • Extra vitamins and minerals in special dog food will add nourishment to your pooch’s diet.
  • The best dog foods to help your dog gain weight will come with a high price tag, but there are some brands on the cheaper side that are very effective.
  • To help your pup plump up, you may choose dry dog food, wet dog food, prescription dog food (consult your veterinarian), or homemade dog food.
  • Some dog foods that aid weight-gain are geared more towards puppies or older dogs.

It’s no secret that canine obesity is a problem in our country. But what about our skinnier pooches? Even though they tend to fly under the radar, underweight dogs deserve the same attention as their heftier pals. 

Dogs lose weight for all kinds of reasons. Some lose weight as they age, and some canine athletes burn through calories quicker than they consume them. And some dogs are just picky eaters. No matter the cause behind your dog’s weight loss, a nutrient-packed, calorie-rich dog food can help.

We understand that every dog is unique and has their own set of nutritional needs, which is why we’ve selected top-rated dog foods for weight gain in several relevant categories. You’ll find an option for underweight senior dogs, who benefit from superfood ingredients. And we can’t ignore underweight puppies, so we’ve also included a formula that caters to their specific needs (i.e. meat-based ingredients and extra calories for energy).

The extra calories and enhanced palatability of wet food earn it a featured spot on our list. Underweight dogs usually find the taste more appealing, encouraging them to finish every bite.

One final word of advice: Because weight loss can signal an underlying illness like kidney disease or cancer, it’s best to check in with your vet to rule out an undiagnosed medical condition before starting your dog’s new diet. And remember to gradually introduce a new diet to your dog, giving his stomach time to adjust.

So, what’s the best dog food for weight gain in 2022? Read on to find out!

  1. Crave High Protein Adult Dog Food
  2. Crave High Protein Adult Dog Food
    • A protein-rich formula that has no artificial flavors or preservatives
    • Grain-free and made of real beef
    • Free of corn, wheat and soy
    • Provides energy to your dog
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
  4. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
    • A great option for dogs that are picky eaters
    • Calorie- and protein-rich
    • Freeze-dried raw meat provides a protein-packed energy boost
    • Contains added probiotics to enhance digestive health
    • Appropriate for all dog ages except for large-breed puppies
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Bully Max High Performance Premium Dog Food
  6. Bully Max High Performance Premium Dog Food
    • Best for puppies, packing 535 calories per cup of food
    • Never been recalled
    • Meat-based formula is filled with natural ingredients
    • Protein-packed kibble provides energy and promote alertness
    Check Amazon
  7. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Dog Food
  8. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Dog Food
    • High-protein formula helps older dogs to gain or maintain their weight
    • Contains superfoods like fish, pumpkin, cranberries, carrots and blueberries
    • Grain- and gluten-free
    • Rich in omega-3 and and omega-6 fatty acids
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food
  10. Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food
    • Tasty wet food formula is packed with calories and protein to aid in weight gain
    • All-natural recipe blends meat and organs and contributes healthy levels of chondroitin and glucosamine to aid in joint health
    • BPA-free packaging is eco-friendly
    • Family-owned company based in New Zealand
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  11. Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance Dog Food
  12. Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance Dog Food
    • Affordable pricetag is unbeatable
    • 30% protein and 20% fat
    • Builds muscle to help your dog exercise longer and with more intensity
    • Three protein-packed flavors to choose from
    • Includes probiotics to enhance healthy digestion and immune system health
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

How to Choose the Right Dog Food for Weight Gain

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right dog food for weight gain. Here are five useful metrics to guide your shopping: 

Look for high fat and protein content

For healthy weight gain, aim for 30% protein and 20% fat. It’s also smart to check the food’s calorie content: the higher, the better. 

Stick to quality Ingredients

Check the label to look for wholesome ingredients you wouldn’t mind eating yourself. It’s best to avoid fillers, artificial flavors, and overly processed foods. And don’t forget fiber—it’s essential for digesting all those extra calories.

Spring for palatability

Does your dog turn his nose up at every entry? Dish up something more appetizing to encourage your picky eater to finish his plate. Typically, wet canned food is better received by finicky eaters than dry kibble. There’s something about the soft texture and enticing aroma that drives dogs wild.

Extra Vitamins and Minerals

Additional nutrients help fill in the gaps where Fido’s diet may be lacking, so check food labels for essentials like antioxidants, fiber, and omega fatty acids.

Price

The best quality dog food may come at a steeper price, but it’s usually worth the investment. That said, you can still find healthy dog foods that won’t stretch your wallet. The best dog food for weight loss will balance quality with affordability.

The Different Types of Dog Food For Weight Gain: Pros and Cons Compared

To help your dog gain weight, you’ll need to choose from dry or wet food. You can also talk to your vet about prescription diets or homemade dog food. Every option has its own pros and cons.

Keep in mind that wet food delivers more calories and is more palatable to most dogs, two key considerations for pet owners of skinny pups. One happy compromise that works for most pets is combining the two. Talk to your veterinarian about supplementing dry meals with canned food, or topping meals with a savory moist snack to sneak in extra calories.

Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
CheapLess appetizing to some dogs
Easy to storeHarder on aging gums and teeth
Easy to prepare and serve

Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
More palatableMore expensive
Soft on weak teethMessier, smellier, and harder to serve
Spoils once opened

Prescription Dog Food

ProsCons
Developed by animal nutritionists and scientistsRequires vet approval
Targets specific health concernsExpensive

Homemade Dog Food

ProsCons
No mystery ingredientsRequires time and effort to prepare
Customizable

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

Our top picks to help your dog gain weight were carefully selected after extensive research. We chose dog foods that were protein-rich, free of unhealthy additives, high in calories, and packed with probiotics, which help with digestion. We love grain-free options that use real beef or meat-based proteins to help your dog add some pounds while staying healthy. Remember to gradually introduce a new food to your dog

#1 Overall Best Dog Food for Weight Gain: CRAVE Grain-Free High Protein Dog Food

Without a doubt, the #1 best dog food for weight gain is CRAVE Grain-Free High Protein Dog FoodOur first choice out of a pretty stellar lineup is CRAVE’s High Protein Dog Food. With a beefy flavor that dogs love, CRAVE delivers generous amounts of protein for strong, lean muscles. Inspired by our dogs’ carnivorous ancestors, this protein-packed food will energize and strengthen your pup.

CRAVE is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and omega fatty acids to promote overall good health. It’s suitable for both small and large breed dogs

Features we love:

  • 34% protein 
  • First ingredient is real beef
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Zero artificial flavors or preservatives
  • No corn, wheat, or soy
Best Overall
Crave High Protein Adult Dog Food
  • A protein-rich formula that has no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Grain-free and made of real beef
  • Free of corn, wheat and soy
  • Provides energy to your dog
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#2 Best for Picky Eaters: Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe

Not all dogs scarf down food indiscriminately. For pickier pooches, we found Instinct Raw Boost Recipe was a real winner. Dogs struggling to keep their weight up will get the calories they need with this protein-rich kibble. And bonus: you won’t have to beg him to eat!

True to their name, Instinct Raw Boost features small bites of freeze-dried raw meat. Dogs love this because (A) it gives them a blast of protein, and (B) it tastes awesome!

Instinct also supports digestive health with added probiotics. Omega fatty acids promote a shiny, healthy coat and antioxidants give your dog’s immune system a leg-up. 

This dog food is suitable for all life stages, except for large breed puppies

Features we love:

  • Freeze-dried raw beef bites
  • Responsibly-sourced, natural ingredients
  • No grains, corn, soy, or wheat
Best for Picky Eaters
Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
  • A great option for dogs that are picky eaters
  • Calorie- and protein-rich
  • Freeze-dried raw meat provides a protein-packed energy boost
  • Contains added probiotics to enhance digestive health
  • Appropriate for all dog ages except for large-breed puppies
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#3 Best for Puppies: Bully Max High Protein and Fat Dry Dog Food

Most breeders are preoccupied with puppies putting on too much weight—not too little. Nevertheless, there are some pups who need a hand getting their weight up. We’ve selected Bully Max High Protein and Fat Dry Food as our puppy recipe of choice. This formula packs a punch with 535 calories per cup. Wholesome ingredients are slow-cooked to preserve their quality and potency. 

You only want the best for your pet, and you can rest easy knowing that Bully Max has NEVER been recalled since it was founded in 2008. The company attributes this success to their “triple-check system,” which requires kibble to be checked three times before it leaves the processing plant.

Features we love:

  • Meat-based formula
  • Natural ingredients
  • Boosts strength, energy, and alertness
  • Has never been recalled 
Best for Puppies
Bully Max High Performance Premium Dog Food
  • Best for puppies, packing 535 calories per cup of food
  • Never been recalled
  • Meat-based formula is filled with natural ingredients
  • Protein-packed kibble provides energy and promote alertness
Check Amazon

#4 Best for Senior Dogs: Solid Gold High Protein “Barking At The Moon” Dog Food

For senior dogs, issues like dental pain or diminished appetite can contribute to unhealthy weight loss. Solid Gold delivers a high-powered dose of protein in every bowl—ideal for giving your senior dog the energy he needs to thrive. 

Wholesome superfoods include fresh fish meal, pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, and blueberries. 

Features we love:

  • Real U.S.A. beef
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics for gut health
  • Grain-free and gluten-free
  • Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
Best for Senior Dogs
Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Dog Food
  • High-protein formula helps older dogs to gain or maintain their weight
  • Contains superfoods like fish, pumpkin, cranberries, carrots and blueberries
  • Grain- and gluten-free
  • Rich in omega-3 and and omega-6 fatty acids
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#5 Best Wet Food for Weight Gain: Ziwi Peak All Natural Canned Beef Recipe

When it comes to weight gain, sometimes wet food is better. Often more palatable and packed with more calories, canned food may help your dog reach his ideal weight sooner.

This all-natural recipe from New Zealand brand, Ziwi, blends fresh meat, organs, and bones to give your dog a boost of energizing protein. Green mussels—a New Zealand native—contribute healthy levels of chondroitin and glucosamine, important for joint health and mobility.

This food is on the pricey side, but the extra cost may be worth it to some pet owners. Many reviewers report satisfied pups who need little to no encouragement to wolf down this healthy recipe.

Features we love:

  • BPA-free cans
  • New Zealand mussels provide a natural source of glucosamine
  • Made with free-range meat and wild-caught fish without hormones or antibiotics
  • 100% family-owned company
Best Wet Food
Ziwi Peak Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food
  • Tasty wet food formula is packed with calories and protein to aid in weight gain
  • All-natural recipe blends meat and organs and contributes healthy levels of chondroitin and glucosamine to aid in joint health
  • BPA-free packaging is eco-friendly
  • Family-owned company based in New Zealand
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#6 Best Budget Option: Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food

Give your underweight dog a healthful boost of protein—without breaking the bank. This rice-and-beef formula from Purina provides 30% protein for muscle-building power and 20% fat for energy. 

This formula is designed to support endurance: it will help your dog build muscle by allowing him to exercise longer and with more intensity. Glucosamine supports joint health and mobility, and amino acids aid in muscle recovery as well.

With three different protein flavors, you can rotate this dog food to avoid weight loss caused by a bored palate. Our canine testers give their stamp of approval on this one!

Features we love:

  • Beef is the first ingredient
  • Made for active dogs
  • Includes probiotics for healthy digestive and immune systems 
  • Also available in salmon and chicken flavor
Best on a Budget
Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance Dog Food
  • Affordable pricetag is unbeatable
  • 30% protein and 20% fat
  • Builds muscle to help your dog exercise longer and with more intensity
  • Three protein-packed flavors to choose from
  • Includes probiotics to enhance healthy digestion and immune system health
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Summary of the Best

RankBest ForProduct
1Overall BestCRAVE Grain-Free High Protein Dog Food
2Best for Picky EatersInstinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
3Best for PuppiesBest for Puppies: Bully Max High Protein & Fat Dry Dog Food
4Best for Senior Dogs Solid Gold High Protein “Barking At The Moon” Dog Food
5Best Wet Food for Weight Gain Ziwi Peak All Natural Canned Beef Recipe
6Best Budget OptionPurina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food

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About the Author

Liz is a freelance writer who loves putting pet owners in touch with top-rated, life-enriching pet products. She shares her home in Western New York with 2 cats, 2 zebra finches, 1 husband, and an animal-loving daughter. Visit her at Lizwritesforyou.com.

The Best Dog Food For Weight Gain in 2022—Reviewed and Ranked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What can I feed my dog to help her gain weight?

Underweight dogs need extra protein and fat. For best results, look for 30% protein and 20% fat.

You can also talk to your vet about supplementing with dog-friendly human foods for weight gain. Some foods to consider:

  • Boiled chicken (without seasonings)
  • Canned pumpkin puree
  • plain white rice
  • boiled sweet potatoes
  • Cheese cubes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked or canned salmon

What is the best dog food for weight gain?

Hands down, our favorite dog food for weight gain is CRAVE Grain-Free High Protein Dog Food. It ticks all of the requirements we’re looking for: high protein levels, a meat-based recipe, and a tempting taste. We’re also fans of the extra nutrients this dog food crams in—CRAVE bolsters your dog’s wellbeing with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and vitamins. Plus, you won’t find harmful fillers, flavors, or preservatives here. Just wholesome canine nutrition for healthy weight gain.