Dogs are a lot like people when it comes to body weight – they are more likely to become overweight than underweight. Nevertheless, there are several conditions and circumstances that can leave a pup in need of some surplus calories.
Fortunately, there are a variety of dog foods and supplemental products available that can help you accomplish this goal of reaching a healthy weight!
We’ll share a few of our favorite weight gain dog food recipes below, explain some of the most important things to look for when making your choice, and explain how to put weight on a dog safely.
Just be sure that you work in conjunction with your veterinarian, to ensure you have remedied the underlying problem which caused your dog to become underweight, and that your pooch gains weight in a steady, healthy manner.
Read our full post on how to pick out food to fill out Fido, or check out our quick picks below:
Best Dog Foods and Supplements for Weight Gain: Quick Picks
- #1 Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food [Best Overall Dog Food for Weight Gain]: With a whopping 535 Calories per cup, this food will help you pack some pounds on your pooch quickly and easily.
- #2 Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food [Most Affordable Dog Food for Weight Gain]: Despite being very affordably priced, this food will provide your pup with a ton of protein and calories.
- #3 MVP K9 Formula Mass [Best Dog Supplement for Weight Gain]: A great option for owners who want to bulk up their pooch without switching foods.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog Is Underweight?
Some of the most obvious signs and symptoms associated with underweight dogs include:
- Obviously visible ribs, hips or shoulders
- Reduced energy level
- Poor coat condition or reduced shine
- Poor eating habits
None of these signs necessarily indicate that your dog is underweight, but they should alert you to the possibility of a health issue. There’s little to be lost by being proactive, so don’t delay in addressing the problem.
The Best Dog Foods For Weight Gain: Five Foods That’ll Fatten Your Dog
Consider choosing one of the following dog foods when it comes to bulking up your buddy. Each of these recipes is a great food for weight gain, which will help your pup pack on a few additional pounds.
1. Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food
- 535 Calories per cup
- 33% protein content
- 22% fat content
- Contains no corn, wheat, or soy
Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp...,
Ground Sorghum, Pearled Barley, Brewers Dried Yeast, Whole Ground Flaxseed, Menhaden Fish Meal, Egg Product, Menhaden Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, L-Lysine, DL-Methionine, Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Propionic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Organic Dried Kelp, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Citric Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Iron Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Natural Flavor
- Bullymax is the most protein-rich option among the foods we recommend for weight gain
- Includes probiotics to help promote proper digestion
- Unlike some other super-high protein dog foods, this is a grain-inclusive recipe
- We’d prefer if the food contained a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list
- This recipe contains no produce aside from kelp
- This food is fairly expensive
2. Elite K9 Maximum Bully All Stages Dog Food
Elite K9 Maximum Bully All Stages Dog Food is a chicken-and-pork dog food designed to deliver more protein and fat per bite than most other foods.
- 481 Calories per cup
- Multi-protein recipe that most dogs find palatable
- 32% protein content
- 22% fat content
Chicken meal, pork meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), white rice, whole barley...,
oatmeal, rice bran, dried plain beet pulp, millet, pea protein, spray dried egg product, yeast extract, fish meal, salt, flaxseed meal, potassium chloride, choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin K (menadione sodium bisulfite complex), calcium pantothenate, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, (vitamin B6), zinc oxide, iron sulfate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite (selenium), zinc amino acid complex, calcium carbonate, iron amino acid complex, ferrous sulfate, sodium selenite, copper amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, calcium iodate, pumpkin, cranberries, Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast culture, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtillis fermentation extract.
- This recipe contains a ton of protein, fat and calories to help bulk up your pooch
- We like the inclusion of antioxidant-rich produce and probiotics
- Despite being a low-carb recipe, this food is grain-inclusive
- Though packed with protein, this food doesn’t contain any whole animal meats
- Foods with multiple protein sources are a bad choice for dogs with food allergies
3. Nature’s Logic Dry Dog Food
Nature’s Logic Chicken-Flavored Dry Dog Food is a nutritious, premium-ingredient dog food, coated in a nutrient-rich mix of digestive enzymes for bulking up your pup.
Nature’s Logic Dry Dog Food
A protein-packed, innovative dog food featuring non-traditional ingredients.
- 417 Calories per cup
- 36% protein
- 15% fat content
- Contains probiotics to aid digestion
Chicken Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pumpkin Seed, Yeast Culture...,
Spray Dried Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Montmorillonite Clay, Dried Kelp, Spray Dried Lamb Plasma, Dried Tomato, Almonds, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Carrot, Dried Apple, Menhaden Fish Meal, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Apricot, Dried Blueberry, Dried Spinach, Dried Broccoli, Dried Cranberry, Parsley, Dried Artichoke, Rosemary, Dried Mushroom, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium bifidium Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Pineapple Extract, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract
- This recipe has more protein per cup than any other option discussed here
- Features a number of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies
- Formulated with probiotics to support proper digestion
- Though packed with protein, this recipe’s caloric value isn’t especially high
- Chicken meal is a valuable ingredient, but no whole proteins are included
- The food’s unusual ingredients may cause tummy troubles for some pets
4. Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food
Although it isn’t specifically formulated as a weight-gain formula, Purina Pro Plan Sport Formula is a high-calorie dog food for weight gain that is packed with flavor and available at a competitive price point.
If you can’t find this formula near you, Purina Pro Plan Large Breed may be an alternative option, as large breed dog foods and large breed puppy food also tend to be higher calorie.
Purina Pro Plan Sport Dog Food
An affordable dog food with more calories and protein than many other options.
- 475 Calories per cup
- 30% protein
- 20% fat
- Contains natural sources of glucosamine
Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewer's Rice, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E)...,
Poultry By-Product Meal (Natural Source of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Corn, Corn Germ Meal, Fish Meal (Natural Source of Glucosamine), Animal Digest, Fish Oil, Dried Egg Product, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Garlic Oil, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite. W-4461.
- Very reasonably priced, given its quality
- Glucosamine-rich ingredients may help prevent joint issues.
- Most dogs seemed to really like the taste of this food (which makes it easier to get your dog to consume more calories)
- Includes a variety of low-quality ingredients, such as corn gluten meal and brewer’s rice
- Though unlikely to sicken your pet, garlic oil is an ingredient many owners like to avoid
- Contains no probiotics or antioxidant-rich produce
5. Crave Grain-Free Dog Food
Crave Grain-Free Dog Food is a protein-packed dry dog food for weight gain that may help your pup pack on a few extra pounds. Made with several different animal-based protein sources, this food definitely deserves consideration from owners looking for a high-calorie dog food.
Crave Grain-Free Dog Food
A US-made, high-calorie, grain-free dog food with a ton of protein.
- 443 Calories per cup
- 34% protein
- 17% fat
- Manufactured in the USA
Salmon, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)...,
Pork Meal, Dried Potatoes, Lamb Meal, Fish Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
- This recipe has the second-highest protein content of any food discussed here
- Most dogs love the taste of this meaty, multi-protein recipe
- Several of the food’s vegetable-based ingredients (such as chickpeas) are also high in protein content
- Multi-protein recipes are not ideal for dogs with food allergies
- We’d prefer if this recipe contained more antioxidant-rich produce
- Contains no probiotics
Quick Reference Table
There’s a lot to wrap your head around when trying to pick out a food that’ll help your pet pack on the pounds. But don’t worry — we’ve put together the following table to help you quickly compare the calories, protein and fat contained in each of the five foods we recommend.
This should help you pick the best dog food to help your pet gain weight and muscle.
|Food||Calories per Cup||Protein Content||Fat Content|
|Purina Pro Plan SPORT||475||30||20|
|Crave Grain Free||443||34||17|
Dog Weight-Gain Supplements
It isn’t always necessary to switch foods to help your pup gain a bit of weight – you can also use supplements to help boost your dog’s body weight and muscle mass.
Most such supplements are easy to prepare and serve, and dogs typically don’t mind the taste they impart.
We’ll discuss a few of the most effective weight-gain supplements below so you can determine which one is ideal for your pet.
1. MVP K9 Formula Mass
MVP K9 Formula Mass is a weight-gain supplement formulated with healthy fats and whey protein to help your dog add weight in a safe and gradual manner.
- Each scoop contains 50% fats and 28% protein
- Contains no fillers, salts, or sugars
- Made in the USA
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Many owners reported excellent results and rapid weight gain
- Several owners mentioned that their dog appeared to put on extra muscle after using the supplement
- It proved useful in a variety of situations (malnourished dogs, canine athletes, etc.)
- Though broadly effective, it didn’t work in all cases
- A small number of dogs experienced digestive difficulties after using this supplement
Vegetable Fat, Whey Protein, Flax Seed, Creapure (brand name for creatine monohydrate)...,
2. Bully Max / Gorilla Max Canine Supplement Combo
When you purchase this combo package, you actually get two different weight-gain supplements for one reasonable price. Bully Max is designed to help sick, malnourished or underweight dogs put on more body weight, while Gorilla Max is specifically designed for canine athletes.
- Comes with 60-day supply of Bully Max and a 30-day supply of Gorilla Max
- Gorilla Max contains probiotics to help maintain proper intestinal function
- These supplements are fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Made in the USA
- This supplement-and-food combo kit produced very good results for many owners
- Appears to work well for active dogs who need some extra calories
- Several older or malnourished dogs were able to put on some pounds with this combo kit
- Several owners reported minor digestive upset after using these products
- Some dogs didn’t seem to love the taste of these supplements
Bully Max Ingredients
Dicalcium Phosphate, Maltodextrins, Dried Whey, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Lecithin...,
Natural Flavoring, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Montmorillonite Clay, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Stearic Acid, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Magnesium Stearate, Vegetable Oil, Niacin Supplement, Beta Carotene, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Riboflavin, Silica Aerogel, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Carbonate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate and Vitamin B12 Supplement.
Gorilla Max Ingredients
Whey Protein Isolate, Pea Protein, Corn Syrup Solids, Vegetable Oil, Omega Fish Oil Concentrate...,
Proprietary Nutrient Mix (Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cholecalciferol, dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacinamide, Calcium D-Pantothenate, Thiamin HCI, Cyanocobalamin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine HCl, Ascorbic Acid, Phytonadione, Copper Gluconate, Potassium Iodide, Ferrous Fumarate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate, Choline Bitartrate, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine), Digestive Enzyme Complex (Alpha Amylase, Cellulase, Lipase, Lactase, Neutral Protease), Natural Flavor, Colostrum, Probiotics (Bacillus coagulans).
3. Dyne High Calorie Animal Supplement
Dyne High-Calorie Animal Supplement is a liquid product designed to help dogs gain weight and enjoy higher energy levels. According to the manufacturer, it is even effective for pregnant, lactating, dehydrated or geriatric dogs.
- Owners report it helping in a broad range of scenarios
- This is the most affordable weight-gain supplement we found
- This is one of the most affordable weight-gain supplements on the market
- We’d prefer if this supplement was made without artificial flavors
- A few owners complained about issues with the packaging
- Provides 150 additional Calories per ounce
- Most dogs find the vanilla flavor tasty
- Made in the United States of America
- Fortified with vitamins
Soybean oil, sugar, water, glycerin, dried skimmed milk...,
polysorbate 80, dried egg whites, propylene glycol, artificial vanilla flavor, pectin citrus, gum arabic, ascorbic acid (preservative) sodium benzoate (preservative), vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, FD&C Yellow #5, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine hydrochloride, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement.
4. Muscle Bully Muscle Builder
Muscle Bully Muscle Builder is designed to help promote muscle growth and muscle definition in dogs who are a little undersized. This supplement comes in a chewable tablet form, which allows for quick and easy supplementation on a daily basis.
But one of the things we like most about this product is that the manufacturer not only backs the product with a satisfaction guarantee, they’ll also provide guidance for owners who’re not seeing the results they want.
- Veterinarian-approved formula
- Natural chicken liver flavor
- Made in the USA
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 100% money-back guarantee
- This supplement received some of the best reviews we could find in the entire product category
- Reportedly produced results very quickly (some owners saw weight gain in as little as two weeks)
- Tablets have a taste most dogs liked
- Some owners may not like all of the 50-cent words in the ingredient list
- It didn’t help all dogs gain weight, but this is going to be the case for all supplements
N,N-Dimethylglycine HCl, Methionine, L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Creatine Monohydrate...,
Chromium, Brewer’s Yeast, Cellulose, Chicken Liver Flavor, Colostrum, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Whey, Silicon Dioxide, Stearic Acid, Whey Protein Isolate.
Reasons Your Dog May Need to Gain Weight
Remember, low body weight is a symptom, not a disease; if your dog is underweight, there may be an underlying illness or issue at work, and you must work with your veterinarian to determine the root of the problem. Only after fixing this, will you be able to help your pooch add a little padding.
Reasons your dog may be exhibiting lower-than-normal body weight include:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intestinal parasites
- Thyroid Problems
- Liver Disease
- Dental Problems
While there are several legitimate reasons for trying to increase your dog’s body weight, trying to get your young puppy to grow more quickly is not a good idea.
Puppies should grow at a gradual, natural rate for proper skeletal development. There are many dog foods specifically designed for puppies that will help your pup gain weight in a healthy manner while supporting bone and brain growth.
Always work with your vet to establish a good daily intake for your puppy (or adult dog) and strive to keep him at his ideal weight.
Packing on the Pounds: How to Put Weight on a Dog Safely
While you may need to help your dog bulk up a bit, this doesn’t mean you should just start cramming food in his mouth at all hours of the day and night!
Just as is the case when trying to reduce a dog’s weight, you should try to help your dog reach a healthy weight gradually. He didn’t become underweight overnight, and you aren’t going to be able to get him back to his target weight overnight either.
This is especially true of dogs who’ve become extremely thin, as well as those who’ve been underweight for an extended period of time. In such cases, it is imperative that you learn how to put weight on a malnourished dog safely.
At a basic level, helping your dog to add a few pounds entails nothing more than tweaking his caloric intake and output. If your dog consumes more calories without burning any additional calories, he’ll gain weight (assuming he doesn’t have an underlying medical condition).
Some of the best, healthiest ways to help your pup put on some more pounds include:
- Increase the frequency with which you feed Fido. You may be able to get your dog to consume more food on a daily basis by dividing meal times up rather than feeding him once per day.
- Select a food with more calories and protein. A little bit more fat is alright, but you don’t want to just start feeding him the dog-food equivalent of cheese fries (all this talk of fat is making me hungry).
- You can switch to an ad libitum feeding strategy (“free feeding”). Although leaving food out for your dog at all times is often discouraged, it can be a great strategy for helping underweight dogs add some weight. In fact, ad libitum feeding may encourage your dog to eat a little when he is bored (let’s face it, humans are often guilty of this).
- Provide him with high-calorie treats or supplements. While the bulk of your dog’s additional calories should come in the form of a nutritious, balanced food, it’s OK to supplement his diet with some fat- and protein-packed treats.
- Switch to a puppy food growth formula. Puppy foods have more protein and calories per serving than many dog foods, making them a good choice for underweight dogs. You can also look for foods designed for “all life stages,” as these are essentially puppy food.
- Use caution with homemade weight gain dog food recipes. A lot of well-meaning owners devise their own dog foods to help their pooch bulk up. But unfortunately, many of these recipes are improperly balanced, and may therefore cause additional problems.
- Include Drool-Worthy Extras. You can also help your pet gain weight by adding foods that’ll fatten your dog with his kibble. This includes things like peanut butter, shredded chicken, yogurt, or a cooked egg.
- Moisten the Food. Some dogs may not be eating much if the food is too hard or if they have sensitive teeth. Adding some moisture and softening up the food may help
In addition to the strategies discussed above, it is also wise to keep a journal while trying to help your dog gain weight. Record any food changes you make, as well as any supplements you begin administering. It’s also important to track your dog’s weight on a weekly basis.
A journal will not only help you to determine which strategies are producing the best results, it will help when discussing the issue with your vet too.
Is It Wise to Make a Homemade High-Calorie Dog Food for Weight Gain?
Although some owners have begun making their own dog food recipes for their pets, it’s rarely a good idea to do so.
Balancing a custom-made dog food is extraordinarily difficult, and it is simply something the average dog owner doesn’t understand how to do properly.
The resulting food can cause a number of serious long-term problems, ranging from joint and bone malformations to nutritional deficiencies.
Consequently, we always encourage owners to avoid homemade foods and stick to the well established, best dog food brands that are already on the market instead.
However, if you are set on making a homemade food for your dog, be sure to work closely with your vet and a veterinary nutritionist.
Give these five products a try if you are looking to help your pooch pack on a few extra pounds. Just remember to increase your pup’s caloric intake gradually, avoid abruptly changing to a new food and keep your vet in the loop while doing so.
Have you ever been faced with an underweight dog? What types of things worked for you? Did you stumble upon a particularly effective food?