The Best Dog Food for Weight Loss (Review) in 2021

Last Updated April 21, 2020

Man’s best friend can also gain weight, leading to obesity if not managed appropriately, and potentially increasing the risk for metabolic abnormalities like diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. There is also fatty liver disease that you may need to worry about. Protect your pet from the complications of obesity by giving it any of these best dog foods for weight loss. You’ll be glad your pet is able to reduce its weight as this will translate to improved quality of life for your dog.

The Best Dog Food for Weight Loss


The Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Formula Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice when you have a dog that has weight issues. It has below-average calories and fats yet beefs it up in terms of its protein content. The addition of glucosamine in its formulation also helps support joint function as the joints are basically the weight-bearing points of the dog’s body. Strengthening the joints should help your dog carry its weight while you’re reducing it with this Wellness product.

Read our in-depth Wellness Core Dog Food Review.

Calorie content: 360 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 33

Minimum %age of fats: 10 to 12

1st five ingredients: deboned turkey, chicken and turkey meals, peas, and potatoes

With glucosamine, beta-carotene, chondroitin, and essential fatty acids

With +80 million CFU/lb probiotics

  • Model: 88407
  • Weight: 26 pounds


Blue Buffalo’s Freedom Grain Free Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe comes in as a low-calorie, low-fat, and average-protein dog food that should help dogs lose weight. Also added into its formulation is l-carnitine, a substance well-known for its fat-burning properties. When combined with glucosamine, this can help provide for a more effective canine weight loss diet since the addition of glucosamine enhances the weight-bearing capabilities of the joints. This allows your dog to increase its physical activities so that you’ll get better weight loss results.

Read here our detailed Blue Buffalo Dog Food Review.

Calorie content: 337 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 20

Minimum %age of fats: 8

1st five ingredients: deboned chicken and chicken meal, potatoes, tapioca starch, and peas

With l-carnitine, glucosamine, and essential fatty acids

With prebiotics and probiotics

  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 800024
  • Weight: 1 pounds


Compared to the other products in this list, the Wellness Complete Health Healthy Weight Natural Dry Dog Food is not actually low-calorie dog food. Instead, it can be aptly classified as average. The good news is that Wellness has added chondroitin and glucosamine in the formulation to strengthen the joints and improve their ability to bear the weight of your dog’s body. It comes with probiotics, too, to help improve digestion, ensuring that all of the nutrients in the dog food are utilized by your pet to the fullest.

Calorie content: 405 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 24

Minimum %age of fats: 10

1st five ingredients: deboned chicken and chicken meal, ground brown rice, oatmeal, and ground barley

With taurine, essential fatty acids, chondroitin, and glucosamine

With 20 million CFU/lb probiotics

  • Brand: Wellness Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 89103
  • Weight: 26 pounds


Combining high-quality freeze-dried raw dog food with high-protein dog kibbles, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Natural Dry Dog Food makes its way into our list of canine weight loss diets because of its unique below-average calorie and fat content yet with exceptional protein content. L-carnitine is also added into the blend to provide for a more efficient fat-burning mechanism with each bite that your dog takes from its food bowl.

Read here our detailed look at Nature’s Variety Dog Food.

Calorie content: 348 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 33

Minimum %age of fats: 11 to 15

1st five ingredients: chicken, turkey and chicken meals, peas, and tapioca

With 60 million CFU/lb probiotics

With l-carnitine and essential fatty acids

  • Brand: Instinct
  • Model: 769949658382
  • Weight: 20 pounds


Spot’s Stew Healthy Weight formulation comes in with the second-highest calorie content in this list, although it can still be considered as below-average. Its protein and fat contents are also below-average, making this Halo product a good choice for those that would like to have more bioavailable nutrients because of the exceptional digestibility of its ingredients. It has l-carnitine, too which can help improve metabolism leading to more efficient burning of fat.


Calorie content: 380 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 24

Minimum %age of fats: 12

1st five ingredients: turkey, dried chickpeas, dried peas, dried lentils, and dried egg product

Contains essential fatty acids and l-carnitine

  • Brand: Halo
  • Model: 38014
  • Weight: 14 pounds


Whether it is served as a standalone weight loss diet for your dog or as a topping for your pet’s weight loss dry kibbles, the Purina Pro Plan Focus Weight Management Canned Dog Food is always a good choice. It contains 25% less fat than the other entrees of Purina, helping your dog to lose weight without sacrificing on the other equally-important nutrients necessary for optimum health. Since the Pro Plan Focus has more protein and less fat you can sure your dog will be shedding those pounds away while maintaining lean muscle mass.

For more information on the brand, check out our review of Purina Pro Plan Dog Food.

Calorie content: 306 per 13-ounce can

Minimum %age of proteins: 9

Minimum %age of fats: 2 to 4.5

1st five ingredients: water, turkey, liver, rice, and chicken

  • Brand: PURINA Pro Plan
  • Model: 3810002764
  • Weight: 9.75 pounds


Eagle Pack’s Reduced Fat Natural Dog Food boasts of the lowest fat content among the dry dog foods in this list at 6% minimum. It comes with glucosamine, too to aid in strengthening your dog’s joints so that it will be able to move freely even with its weight bearing down on its joints. There are botanicals and probiotics as well for improved digestion, ensuring that every single nutrient gets digested and absorbed for cellular utilization by your pet. The below-average calorie content can also help your dog in losing weight.

Calorie content: 343 per cup

Minimum %age of proteins: 24

Minimum %age of fats: 6 to 9

1st five ingredients: pork meal, peas, dehulled barley, ground brown rice, and oatmeal

Contains 70 million CFU/lb probiotics

Contains essential fatty acids, glucosamine, minerals, botanicals, and vitamins

  • Brand: Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 4169332919
  • Weight: 30 pounds

Best Dog Food for Weight Loss Buying Guide

Picking the right dog food to help your pet lose weight can be tricky. While it’s easy to pick a low-calorie, low-fat dog food, sometimes you have to consider other things, too. Our comprehensive guide on how to buy the best dog food for weight loss should help you map your plan for effectively addressing your dog’s weight issues.

Is My Dog Overweight?

If you really want to know if your dog is overweight or not you really need to weigh your dog and then compare its weight with the breed’s standard. To give you an idea, we’ve listed herein some of the more common breeds of dogs and their ideal body weights.

  • Chihuahua – not heavier than 6 pounds both for males and females
  • German shepherd – 65 to 90 pounds for males and 50 to 70 pounds for females
  • Golden retriever – 65 to 75 pounds for males and 55 to 65 pounds for females
  • Pug – 14 to 18 pounds for both males and females
  • Rottweiler – 95 to 135 pounds for males and 80 to 100 pounds for females

This is not to say that you really have to rely solely on the weighing scale to check if your dog is overweight or not. Here are some telltale signs that will tell you your dog may already be on its way to a serious weight issue.

  • Difficulty ‘Feeling’ the Ribs

Ideally, when you run your fingers over your dog’s chest you should be able feel for its ribs without any difficulty. If you can do this, then your dog is not overweight. However, if you find yourself having to ‘dig’ deeper or push harder with your fingers just to feel your dog’s ribs, then your canine friend may already be overweight.

  • Absence of Body Form or ‘Definition’

If you look at your dog, you should be able to have a very clear idea of where the chest, tummy, and waist are. This is their body form or their body definition. If you look from above and you see your pet’s belly protruding from the sides you’re looking at a very obvious distention of its abdomen. If you look at your dog from the side and you cannot see the characteristic waist and abdominal tuck then your dog is definitely obese.

  • Inability of Your Dog to Groom or Scratch Itself

If your dog cannot groom itself or even scratch itself, provided there are no known medical conditions that may prevent your dog from doing such things, then it is more likely that your dog is already obese. The extra padding of fat on its body prevents the optimum range of motion of the joints that even a simple act of scratching may already be too difficult for your doggie.

  • Excessive Panting Even in Normal Situations

Try observing your dog how long it would take before it starts to pant heavily when you’re doing your daily walks. Does your hound begin to pant after a mile or is it after a block or two? If it is the latter, then there is a chance that your pet is already overweight. Of course, you’d have to consider the weather, too. If it’s too hot outside then you know that your dog will pant a lot faster than usual.

  • Difficulty Moving About

If your dog doesn’t have arthritis or any other condition that might affect its mobility it should be able to move about with relative ease. It can hop onto your couch or won’t have problems getting up and out of its bed. If not, then there is a likely chance that your pet is overweight.

  • Digestive Issues

While not necessarily a definitive sign of weight issues, it is a very common observation that overweight dogs tend to have constipation and gas more frequently than normal-weight hounds. This is especially true if your dog has no known medical conditions.

What Causes Dogs to Gain Weight?

There are many reasons why dogs can gain weight. While some are the direct result of chronic health problems, a great majority of the reasons are highly preventable. Here are some of the more common causes of canine weight gain.

  • Too Much Food

The food we give to our pets contain calories. These calories come from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Ideally, there should be a balance between energy intake and energy output. In simple words, the amount of calories that your dog will consume should be commensurate to the amount of calories that it needs to perform all of its vital functions as well as other important activities of canine life. If there is substantially more calories that are taken in than the amount of calories that are utilized by your dog, then this excess calories will have to be processed in another way.

Excess calories, usually from carbohydrates in the form of glucose, are converted into fatty acids and glycogen. These are stored in the dog’s body so that, in the event that there is a need for energy and the next meal is still several hours away, your dog will have something to utilize for energy.

Unfortunately, what happens is that by the time the next meal is around, this stored energy has not been used up. Yet you are now giving your dog another serving of the same amount of calories in its food. Over time, this leads to excessive storage of fats leading to obesity.

woman giving pet food

  • Too Little Exercise

In addition to giving too much food to our dogs, weight gain can also be caused by too little or no exercise at all. Remember what we said about energy intake equals energy output? Well, energy intake is the food while energy output is physical activity. If you cannot do away with giving your dog too much food, then you also have to increase its physical activity so that your dog will use up all that stored energy. Otherwise, you will really risk your dog gaining weight.

  • Genetic Predisposition

Some breeds of dogs are genetically-predestined to gain weight over time. Experts say that American cocker spaniels, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, Labrador retrievers, beagles, rough collies, basset hounds, Norwegian elkhounds, dachshunds, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are more prone to gaining weight than other dog breeds.

  • Chronic Conditions

There are also chronic conditions that can cause a dog to gain weight. These can include Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the adrenal glands leading to an increased production of cortisol. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is very common among Golden retrievers and Doberman pinschers and is characterized by lethargy, infection, hair loss, exercise intolerance, and weakness.

Take a look at our latest review of Dog Food for Hypothyroidism.

The Dangers of Obesity in Dogs

Just as obesity in humans can cause a variety of health problems, the same thing can be said of dogs that have greater-than-normal body weights. Here are some of the more common dangers of canine obesity.

  • Increased Risk of Diabetes Mellitus

Having too much fat in the body can increase the risk of diabetes in dogs since the continued intake of carbohydrates only increases sugar levels in the blood. Since these carbs are not utilized by the dog’s body for energy, they are converted into fat and glycogen which further aggravates obesity. Over time, the increased fat deposition leads to insulin resistance causing an increase in glucose in the blood which is no longer moved towards the cells. This increases blood sugar levels and is one of the hallmarks of diabetes.

You may also like our review of Glucose Monitors for Dogs.

  • Problems Associated With Mobility

Having an unusually heavy weight puts strain and stress on the articular surfaces such as the joints, ligaments, and bones. It is like having a Grand Piano standing on a platform supported by toothpicks. The weight of the dog’s body can exert undue pressure on the joints leading to erosion of the ends of the bones and causing osteoarthritis. This leads to problems in mobility associated with inflamed and painful joints.

  • Cardiovascular Problems

Having excess calories that are not used by the body requires conversion into fat and glycogen. The more calories not burned the more fat that is stored. These can lead to the deposition of fatty plaques or lesions in the inner walls of blood vessels causing stroke, pulmonary hypertension, systemic high blood pressure, kidney failure, and even heart failure secondary to coronary artery disease.

  • Difficulty Breathing

When fatty pads accumulate on the chest wall, this restricts the movement of the muscles of respiration. Since breathing is largely a passive thing, the dog will have to exert more force to move air from the environment and into the lungs. The work exerted by the muscles of respiration alone will require considerable amount of oxygen which cannot be supplied adequately because of the channeling of oxygen to more vital organs of the body.

  • Fatty Liver Disease

Obesity is one of the most important risk factors in the development of fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis. The other risk factors include insulin resistance, high fat levels, and high blood sugar all of which are present in a dog that is overweight or obese. The problem with fatty liver disease is that the liver loses its ability to metabolize a lot of the foodstuffs and chemicals that a dog consumes. Over time this leads to cirrhosis which can lead to ascites, liver cancer, and even end-stage liver failure.

  • Reduced Immune Functioning

One of the most intriguing observations about obese dogs is that they are more susceptible to salmonella and canine distemper virus infections suggesting a faulty immune system secondary to obesity. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism behind this observation remains unclear. It is enough to say that obesity can significantly reduce a dog’s ability to fight infections. And this can have significant implications for its overall health.

  • Heat Intolerance

Fat is an exceptional tissue when it comes to insulating the body in cold environments. Unfortunately, too much fat may not be good when the environmental temperatures are simply scorching hot. Obese dogs are known to be more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, heat stress, and heatstroke. This can lead to the sudden cessation of nervous system functioning in an effort to preserve whatever functionality is left from vital organs

  • Increased Risk of Cancer

While the exact mechanism is unknown, obese dogs are known to have a greater chance of developing certain types of cancer but more particularly those related to the urinary bladder. There is also an observation that obese puppies are more likely to develop mammary tumors than normal-weight puppies.

  • Problems in the Skin and Coat

Underneath the skin is a pad of fatty tissue called subcutaneous fat. Within the dermal layer of the skin are cells that are composed of fat globules. When there is excessive fat in the dog, there is a tendency that your dog will have issues with oily skin and increased number of skin creases. This can significantly increase the risk of skin infections.

Dog food in bowls

What Makes the Best Dog Food for Weight Loss?

The right dog food for weight loss should have the following nutrient proportions.

  • Below-average calories

Reducing the amount of calories that your dog is taking minimizes the tendency of the body to store the excess calories as fat. The question, therefore, is how much calories your dog is supposed to have so you will have an idea of just how much below-average calories really mean. For instance, if your dog should have 500 calories per meal, then a below-average calorie diet should be less than 500 calories per serving.

  • Low to below-average fat

Too much fat in the diet can only add up to the fat that is converted and stored by the body from excess glucose. Since the problem with high-calorie dog foods is that there is a chance the excess glucose will be converted into and stored as fat, taking in more fat than necessary will only increase the amount of fat being stored. It is also important to understand that the amount of energy that a single molecule of fat contains is more than the amount of calories contained in a similar molecule of carbohydrate and protein combined. That’s how concentrated fat is.

  • Above-average protein

Protein also contains calories. However, since proteins are unusually large molecules your dog’s body will have to burn more calories just to process proteins and break them down into amino acids. Energy will have to be utilized again to combine these amino acids into building blocks. Technically, increasing protein intake can help save amino acids necessary for building tissues since the dog’s body will inadvertently use some of the proteins for energy.

Check out our guide on the Best High Protein Dog Food.

How Many Calories Does Your Dog Need?

Since one of the essential characteristics of a good dog food for weight loss is below-average calories, then you should know just how much calories your dog is supposed to consume. Here’s how to check for the calorie requirements of your dog.

  • Take your dog’s weight in kilograms. You can use pounds but divide this by 2.2.
  • Multiply your dog’s weight in kilograms by 70 and then multiply by the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) constant of 0.75.
  • Multiply your dog’s RER by the appropriate multiplier depending on its classification to obtain your dog’s Maintenance Energy Requirement or MER.

The different MER multipliers include the following.

  • To lose weight  – 1.0
  • To gain weight – 1.7
  • Light activity or work – 2.0
  • Moderate activity or work – 3.0
  • Heavy activity or work – 6.0
  • Neutered – 1.6
  • Unneutered – 1.8
  • Puppies aged below 4 months – 3.0
  • Puppies aged above 4 months – 2.0

Let us say you have a 20-pound dog that you want to lose weight.

  • 20 pounds divided by 2.2 = 9.09 kilograms
  • 09 kilograms x 70 x 0.75 = 477.225 RER
  • 225 RER x 1.0 (multiplier for weight loss) = 477.225 calories per day

This means you need to feed your 20-pound dog 477.225 calories per day if you want it to lose weight. The formula is a handy tool. But if you’re having problems, your vet can help.

Obesity in dogs is a serious issue. There are many health implications that can undermine your dog’s overall wellbeing and quality of life. By giving your dog any of these best dog foods for weight loss, you’re giving your furry best friend the chance to lead a more normal, healthier life.


  1. How To Tell If Your Pet Is Obese — And Why It Matters, Animal Humane Society
  2. Nutrition Matters, American Veterinary Medical Association
  3. Sarah Lim, DVM, Seasonal Weight Gain in Dogs: How to Avoid Those Pesky Extra Pounds, The MSPCA–Angell
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