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How To Fatten Up A Dog

September 4, 2023
Written by
Brooke V.
This content is produced in collaboration with an advertising partner and follows mindbodygreen’s editorial guidelines. The content is written by a third party. Statements are not fact-checked by a medical expert.
how to fatten up a dog
Image by Samantha Gehrmann / Stocksy
September 4, 2023
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Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is an important part of looking after your companion’s overall health. Whether your dog’s vet has advised that your pet gain or lose a few pounds, dietary changes can help it reach a healthier weight.

Beyond an inadequate diet, various factors can contribute to a dog becoming underweight, from parasites1 to gastrointestinal disorders, so it’s important to check with your dog’s vet if your pet is underweight. They can also pinpoint any underlying issues that may be to blame, and how to best address them. When diet alone is to blame, increasing your dog’s calorie consumption to promote gradual weight gain may help. Here are more details on how to help your dog gain weight through its diet, along with the best dog foods for healthy weight gain.

How to help your dog gain weight

Each dog is unique in its nutritional requirements, and a vet can help you better understand your pet’s needs. They may recommend a balanced diet that includes high-quality commercial dog food with appropriate levels of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Additionally, they might suggest adding certain safe and nutritious foods to your dog's diet to encourage weight gain.

The following nutrients are essential for overall canine health:

  • Protein: High-quality protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues. It can come from sources like lean meats, eggs, and certain vegetables.
  • Healthy Fats: Fats are a concentrated source of energy and can help with weight gain. Suitable options include fish oil, coconut oil, or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates from whole grains can provide energy and support weight gain in dogs.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Dogs require various vitamins and minerals to maintain good health. A balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-rich foods usually covers their needs. However, if there are specific deficiencies, your vet may recommend appropriate supplements.

High-calorie dog foods are designed to provide more calories per serving than regular dog food, making them suitable for dogs that need to gain weight. They typically have a higher calorie content per serving compared to regular dog food. The exact calorie content can vary among brands and formulations, but a high-calorie dog food may contain around 400 to 600 calories per cup or more. Regular dog food usually contains fewer calories, around 300 to 400 calories per cup.

High-calorie dog food can be used in combination with other strategies for weight gain, such as feeding multiple smaller meals a day, adding healthy fats like olive oil or coconut oil to your dog’s food. You can also increase your dog’s calorie consumption by feeding it larger amounts of lower calorie dog food or adding healthy snacks throughout the day.

Always remember that weight gain should be a gradual process. Rapid weight gain can be detrimental to a dog's health, just like rapid weight loss. Monitoring your dog's progress and making adjustments under the guidance of a veterinarian is crucial to ensure its well-being throughout the weight gain journey. If you’re looking for a dog food formula that can contribute to healthy weight gain, these are the best options to choose from.

Best chicken flavored: Pupper Dog Food


  • Tasty chicken flavor
  • 20% discount with subscription


  • Lack of customer reviews

This real chicken dog food to fatten up a dog contains nutritious ingredients like real chicken, whole grains, salmon oil, and vitamins. The combination is designed to provide your canine with complete nutrition at mealtime. You can choose from a five-pound or 15-pound bag, with the option to sign up for a discounted auto-ship subscription.

Best raw: Stella & Chewy's SuperBlends Raw Coated


  • Made in small batches in the U.S.
  • No by-product meals


  • High cost per pound

Stella & Chewy’s SuperBlends Raw Coated Wholesome Grains dog food contains nutritious ingredients like wild-caught whitefish, salmon, spinach, chia seeds, and kale. The food is free of animal by-product meals and artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Stella & Chewy’s is a Pet Sustainability Coalition accredited business, meaning it meets environmental and social impact standards set forth by the group.

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Best salmon: IAMS Advanced Health Skin & Coat Chicken and Salmon Recipe


  • Contains omega fatty acids
  • Made in the U.S.


  • Contains chicken by-product meal

Iams Advanced Health Skin & Coat dog food is an affordable dog food that doesn’t contain artificial flavors or preservatives. It’s formulated for skin and coat health, with omega fatty acid-rich ingredients like salmon and fish oil. It also combines fiber-rich beet pulp and probiotics to encourage digestive health.

Best High Calorie: Miracle Vet 8-in-1 High Calorie Weight Gain Dog Food


  • 600 calories per cup
  • Suitable for dogs of all ages


  • Single size option

This dog food is a high-calorie option, made to meet the needs of working dogs, growing puppies, and dogs that need to gain weight. It’s made with real chicken and white fish, and reviewers report that their pets seem to like the flavor. It’s formulated to suit dogs with sensitive stomachs, with easily digestible ingredients and small, soft kibbles.

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Best High Protein: Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food


  • No wheat or soy
  • Made in the U.S.


  • Some reviewers find it doesn’t suit picky eaters

Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food is meant for dogs of all breeds ages four weeks and older. It’s both high-calorie and high-protein with 535 calories per cup, designed to allow dogs to gain muscle. The dog food is free of wheat and soy, which is helpful if your dog is sensitive to either ingredient.  


Helping an underweight dog safely gain weight requires a balanced approach to nutrition. With a veterinarian’s guidance, consider incorporating high-quality dog food options rich in protein and healthy fats to support gradual weight gain while promoting overall well-being. The above dog foods are some of the best options for dog owners hoping to help their pets gain weight in a healthy manner.

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This content is produced in collaboration with an advertising partner and follows mindbodygreen’s editorial guidelines. The content is written by a third party. Statements are not fact-checked by a medical expert.