Best Diet Dog Food For Overweight Dogs (5 Weight Loss Foods)
Hey, some dogs are just little chunkers. Some have a predisposition to gain weight. Some even have medical conditions that make it easy for them to put on a little fat. But sometimes—and I know we may not want to admit it—it might even be (gasp!) our fault as dog owners!
Whether it’s a thyroid problem or too many table scraps, finding the best dog food for weight loss is important if your dog needs to shed a few pounds. We’ve consulted several different experts, vets and dog handlers to figure out the best course of action if you’re looking for a dog food that’ll help your pup lean up. We’ll cover healthy weights for dogs, and then we’ll give you some specific dog food recommendations towards the end.
Quick Comparison: Good Foods for Lil' Chunkers
**Below, you'll find our expert's science-backed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Chewy.
Is it Really That Big a Deal if My Dog is Fat?
The short answer is yes. It shouldn’t be a secret that obese dogs are a lot more prone to health problems that those at a normal weight. It’s not just about how they look. Obesity is can potentially be very dangerous, and it certainly puts your dog at risk for a shockingly large variety of health issues.
Here are just a few of the problems that can arise as a result of obesity (from the pets.webmd.com):
- Labored breathing
- High blood pressure
- Greater risk of stroke
- Joint problems
- Skin conditions
- Immune diseases
- Bone problems
- Lower life span
- Heart disease
Some of those things probably look a little familiar. They’re the same types of problems that happen in obese humans.
So, yes: dog obesity is a problem, and if you think your dog is carrying a bit too much weight, please make a trip to the vet’s office. You want your pup to be healthy and happy, and that can be tough if she’s got a bunch of health problems.
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Obese?
Sometimes dogs can get a little chunky (looking at you, Frenchie owners). If you take your dog to the vet to see if she’s overweight, your vet will use a nine-point system to test her—kind of like any scale of 1 to 10 (except this one is 1-9).
On this scale, a score of 1 would represent a dog who is drastically malnourished and dangerously thin. A score of 9 would represent a dog who is extremely overweight to the point of being dangerous. A normal, healthy dog will score about 5.
To get this number, your vet will do a fairly simple test that you can easily do at home. Of course, your vet is an expert, and you may be a bit biased, but it can still give you a good idea of how healthy your dog’s weight is.
Here’s the test.
First, check for your dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel each of her ribs without too much trouble, but there should still be a bit of fat over them. If her ribs are visible to the naked eye, she’s probably a bit too skinny, and if you can’t feel them at all, she may be overweight.
Next, check the slightly fatty area at the base of her tail. In general, it should be pretty smooth, and you shouldn’t be able to see any bones. If you do, it’s a good indication that your dog is a bit thin. If you can’t feel any bones, it’s a sign that your dog is really pretty fat.
Then, check any other places on your pup’s body where her bones stick out naturally, like her spine. In most of these areas, you want to be able to feel the bones, but there should be a thin layer of fat over them. If you can’t feel them, your dog may be obese.
Lastly, take a look at your dog from the side and from above. Here, you’re looking for a visible waist. If you can’t see a clearly defined waist, your dog might be on the chubbier side. If she has a really severe waist, she may need to eat more.
Of course, if you think your pet falls outside of the normal range, just take her to the vet. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Quick Note on Portion Control
While picking a good dog food can help your pup lose weight, there’s no mistaking what actually creates fat loss: a net calorie deficit.
You can try to pick a food that has fewer calories per cup of food (like the ones we’ve listed below), but you should really try to exercise portion control as well.
It’s typically best just to ask your vet how much to feed your dog, but reducing her calories so that they’re under her total daily energy expenditure is something you can’t miss if you want her to actually lose weight.
What Makes a Good Dog Food for Weight Loss?
First, all of our rules for good dog food in general still apply to any food you’re going to get for your dog to help her lose weight.
For example, a good, recognizable source of quality protein should still be the first ingredient. You still want to avoid weird ingredients, like corn, soy, sugar and other commercial fillers. You also want to try to make sure your dog’s food has plenty of good fruits and vegetables, which creates a well-balanced nutritional profile.
Don’t throw out the rules just because you’re looking for a special food!
Other than that, though, a dog food that’s good for weight loss will have a few other characteristics (from our friends at DogFoodAdvisor):
- It should contain more protein than average
- It should contain less fat than average
- It should contain fewer calories than average
If you can check those three boxes and still follow all of our normal dog food rules, you’re in good shape.
If you’re feeling a bit daunted at actually finding good dog foods that fit this profile, don’t sweat it. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you…
Our Recommendations for Dog Foods for Chubby Puppies
Premium Edge makes pretty good dog food in general, but they make an especially good weight loss formula.
First of all, the protein content is really high. Not outrageous, but still very high, and that’s one of the things we’re looking for in a dog food that’ll help your pup maintain a healthy weight. At 49% protein content, there’s a lot more protein in here than there is in most dog foods.
Where’s that come from? Mostly from chicken, chicken meal and fish meal. We like that there’s so much fish in here, too, since it’s also a good source of healthy fat.
Additionally, the fat content is lower than average—about 13% of this food is fat, which is respectable. The carbs come from white potatoes, which isn’t our favorite source of carbs, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Finally, there are a lot of good, green goodies here: kelp, carrots, berries, apples, tomatoes, and plenty of others.
Overall, this is an excellent dog food for weight loss. Our pup got to try a small sample and give it two very enthusiastic paws up.
This is another dog food we like, and it’s a great option if your furry friend is carrying a bit of extra baby fat (or just fat, baby!).
It doesn’t have as high of a protein content as some of the other foods we selected for this list. It’s got a protein content of 29%. So it’s not a ton. But it’s still slightly more than average, and this food’s other ingredients still make it a strong pick.
The protein here comes from two sources: chicken meal and salmon meal, which are great sources of protein for most dogs.
The fat content is only 11%, but it contains plenty of good omega fatty acids from both fish and flaxseed. It does contain avocado as well, which some dog owners like to stay away from, but it’s a relatively small amount.
All in all, this is another strong pick for any pudgy pup.
Yeehaw! What’s not to like about a product with a name like this?
Jokes aside, Merrick usually makes great dog food. In fact, this is what our girl eats most of the time (not this specific food, but she does eat this brand).
This formula is a canned (wet) dog food with high protein, low fat, and high amounts of good, healthy vegetables.
You’ll find about 47% protein and 16% fat. Protein comes from beef and eggs, and the fat comes from canola oil (not the best source of fat; we’d rather see fish) and a small amount of flax oil.
What we really dig about this recipe, though, is that after meat, fruits and veggies make up 5 of the 7 main ingredients. And that is awesome. They include: sweet potato, green beans, carrots, apples and peas.
So, while we’d like to see a few higher-quality fats, the meat-and-veggies vibe of this food makes it, in our opinion, a very healthy choice for a tubby dog.
How often can you recommend one dog food?
Apparently not too many times! Seriously, though, this dog food has shown up on our blog about a million times—but for good reason. It’s just quality stuff, and, in fact, we’re thinking of transitioning our pup on to this for a while.
For fatter dogs, though, it’s got everything you need. At 38%, its protein content is plenty high, and at 13%, it also has sufficiently low fat. All of that comes from pretty good ingredients as well: chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal and ground flaxseed.
Where this food really shines, though, is in the big variety of leafy greens; it includes broccoli, spinach, parsley and kale. Those things have tons of fiber, which is important for a dog transitioning onto a new food.Overall, this is a good one.
**Disclaimer: Our dog food reviews are based mostly on (1) our expertise and that of the experts with whom we consult and (2) the information provided by the manufacturers. We do test many dog foods (with our dog's help), but we can't test them all. As such, please remember the above recommendations are our opinions, and you should consult your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.