Best Dog Food for Weight Loss: 6 Healthy Options
Most pet parents love spoiling their dogs with treats and extra food, but it’s important to keep your dog’s weight in mind when slipping them table scraps. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese1. The Global Pet Obesity Initiative defines obesity as 30 percent above ideal body weight2. Excessive weight gain can put dogs at risk for serious health problems.
If your dog is overweight or obese, the best dog foods for weight loss can help them shed weight quickly and safely while still feeling full and energetic. Here are some of the top weight loss dog foods, as well as tips from veterinarians on how to select the best diet for your dog.
Our Top Dog Foods for Weight Loss
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- Best Wet Dog Food for Weight Loss: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Canned Dog Food
- Best Dry Dog Food for Weight Loss: Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food
- Best Prescription Weight Loss Dog Food: Royal Canin Satiety Support Weight Management Canned Dog Food
- Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Weight Loss: Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food
- Best Affordable Weight Loss Dog Food: Iams Adult Dry Dog Food for Healthy Weight
- Best Fresh Dog Food for Weight Loss: JustFoodForDogs Metabolic Support Low Fat Frozen Dog Food
What is Weight Loss Dog Food?
As you shop for a new food for your pet, you’ll see that many dog foods are specifically marketed for weight loss, weight control, or weight management. These foods have a few key differences from standard dog food. “The typical food for weight loss recommended by veterinarians falls into the following categories: high protein and low carbohydrate, high fiber to help your dog feel full, and specific nutrients that promote increased metabolism,” explains Brian C. Hurley, DVM, national medical director at AmeriVet Partners Management Inc.
Dog food for weight loss comes in both dry and wet forms, and either option can be used successfully. “Both dry and canned diets can be effectively utilized for weight loss,” explains Dr. Jessie Markovich, board-certified internal medicine specialist and nutritionist at NorthStar VETS. “Canned foods tend to contain more water and may provide more volume for dogs who are volume driven.”
While there are many weight loss dog foods that can be purchased over-the-counter, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet in certain cases. “Veterinary therapeutic weight loss diets, often termed ‘prescription diets,’ are very nutrient dense but less energy dense, which often results in the ability of a pet to eat more food for less calories,” explains Dr. Markovich.
Weight Loss Dog Food: Key Benefits
There are a number of significant benefits to helping your dog lose weight, whether you use a weight loss dog food, increased (appropriate) exercise, or a combination of the two. One study found that normal weight dogs had a median life span of up to 2.5 years longer than overweight dogs3. “Keeping your dog at a good body condition score can help keep him or her with you longer and happier,” explains Dr. Markovich.
Overweight dogs are more prone to a variety of serious medical conditions, including osteoarthritis, joint injuries, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and systemic diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, bladder issues, and liver disease. By keeping your dog at a healthy weight, you can help to reduce their risk of developing one of these serious diseases.
Best Dog Foods for Weight Loss: 7 Healthy Options
There are a wide range of dog foods for weight loss available today, and the following are some of the top options for your pet.
Best Wet Dog Food for Weight Loss
If your dog prefers wet food, the Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Dog Food is a top choice for weight loss. This food comes in 12.5-ounce cans, and it has a tasty chicken and vegetable flavor that dogs will love—there are even real chunks of chicken for them to devour. During research, the brand found that more than 70 percent of dogs had visible weight loss results within 10 weeks of eating this food, and Hill’s also offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee or your money back if you’re not happy with the product.
- Over 70 percent of dogs lost weight within 10 weeks while eating this food
- High protein levels support lean muscle maintenance
- Dog-approved chicken flavor
- Made with natural ingredients
- Made in the USA
- Money-back guarantee
What to Consider
- Only one flavor option
Best Dry Dog Food for Weight Loss
The Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food is a top-rated choice if you want to feed your dog a dry food for weight loss. The formula contains 15 percent less fat than the standard Pro Plan Essentials Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula, and it has a protein-to-fat ratio that’s designed to help your dog lose weight while maintaining muscle mass. The food contains a mixture of crunchy kibble and softer “shredded” pieces, and it’s fortified with live probiotics to support your dog’s digestive and immune health.
- 15 percent less fat than other Purina Pro foods
- Small- and large-breed formulas available
- High-protein formula with real chicken as the first ingredient
- Optimal protein-to-fat ratio to maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Contains live probiotics for digestive and immune health
What to Consider
- Some buyers report an inconsistent amount of the shredded kibble pieces between bags
Best Prescription Weight Loss Dog Food
When talking to your veterinarian about weight management strategies, they may recommend a prescription weight loss dog food, such as the highly rated Royal Canin Satiety Support. This wet food is specially formulated to promote safe weight loss in overweight and obese dogs, containing a special blend of fibers that will help you dog feel full and satisfied after eating, and it comes in 13.4-ounce cans. In clinical trials, 97 percent of dogs lost weight after three months of eating this food, and 83 percent of dogs also begged less. The food contains high protein to maintain lean muscle mass, and it’s also made with nutrients that support bones and joints, which are placed under stress by excess body weight.
- 97 percent of dogs lost weight in three months while eating this food
- Helps reduce begging behavior
- Blend of fibers helps dogs feel full
- High protein helps maintain lean muscle mass
What to Consider
- More expensive than over-the-counter brands
- Prescription required
Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Weight Loss
The Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food is specially formulated to help dogs lose weight, thanks to its balanced calorie and fat levels, and it’s also free of grains, corn, and soy. This grain-free formula has real chicken as the first ingredient, and there are special bits in the kibble that contain a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support immune system health. The dry dog food is also free from poultry by-products, artificial flavors, and preservatives, but there aren’t any clinical studies on its effectiveness for weight loss.
- Grain-free formula
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Specially formulated balance of calories and fat
- No poultry by-products or meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
What to Consider
- No clinical studies on effectiveness for weight loss
Best Affordable Weight Loss Dog Food
Specialty dog foods, including weight management options, are often quite expensive, but the Iams Dry Dog Food for Healthy Weight is a more affordable option. The formula has 17 percent less fat than the regular IAMS Minichunks recipe, and it doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives, flavors, or fillers. The dry food contains a blend of fibers and prebiotics for healthy digestion, as well as L-carnitine to support a healthy metabolism, and it has premium protein to promote healthy muscles, even while your dog is losing weight.
- 17 percent less fat than IAMS Minichunks recipe
- No fillers or artificial preservatives or flavors
- Premium protein to support muscles
- Version available for large breed dogs
- Made in the USA
What to Consider
- Grains make up the bulk of the primary ingredients
Best Fresh Dog Food for Weight Loss
If you’re willing to pay a little more for freshly made dog food, the JustFoodForDogs Metabolic Support Frozen Dog Food is freshly cooked using high-quality, USDA-approved ingredients like turkey breast, beef liver, egg whites, and more. The formula is frozen for easy shipping and storage, and it’s ideal for the management of diabetes mellitus, metabolic disease, and obesity. While it does require a prescription from your veterinarian, this dog food has high fiber levels that will keep your dog feeling full and limited fat levels, helping your dog to lose weight more easily.
- Freshly cooked and frozen
- Formulated for nutritional management of diabetes mellitus, metabolic disease, and obesity
- High fiber levels to keep dogs feeling full
- USDA inspected and approved ingredients
What to Consider
- More expensive than kibble or conventional canned food
- Prescription required
Weight Loss Dog Food Buyer’s Guide
When selecting a dog food for weight loss, your first step should be to consult with your pet’s veterinarian. “This should be a discussion between the pet owner and their veterinarian,” says Dr. Hurley. “Medical decisions are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ discussion, and this includes weight loss. The decision about what to feed requires knowledge of the pet’s lifestyle, medical history, and the capability of the owners to stay compliant.”
As you compare different products, you’ll want to keep in mind that there’s no standard guidelines when it comes to calorie content for weight loss food. “There is no difference in the label definitions between weight control, weight loss, or weight management type diets, and unfortunately, the degree of calorie reduction in comparison to the original product is individually defined by the company,” explains Dr. Markovich. For this reason, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s calorie requirements, as this will allow you to select a food that best suits their needs. They may also recommend a prescription diet, most of which are clinically proven to be effective for weight management.
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight: Tips and Advice
In addition to switching your dog’s food, you can also help them shed a few pounds by increasing their exercise levels appropriately—going for walks, encouraging them to go swimming, and even just playing fetch in the yard. “Remember to start slow and increase the intensity and length based on your pet’s ability to do so without long recovery periods post-workout,” recommends Dr. Hurley. “Simply put, don’t overdo it, which is our tendency when we begin working out.” If you’re not sure how much exercise is appropriate, talk to your veterinarian for recommendations on where to start with your dog.
There are other small changes you can make to help your dog lose weight, too. “Treat balls or puzzle feeders are another great way to slow down eating, thereby helping them to feel full before ingesting a complete meal,” says Dr. Hurley. Finally, you’ll want to ensure your dog isn’t getting too many treats throughout the day. Dr. Markovich says a good rule of thumb is that no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories should come from treats, whether they’re dog treats or table scraps.
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. 2018 Veterinary Clinic: Pet Obesity Prevalence Survey. Retrieved from https://petobesityprevention.org/2018
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. The Global Pet Obesity Initiative Position. Retrieved from https://petobesityprevention.org/global-pet-obesity-initiative
- Salt C, Morris PJ, Wilson D, Lund EM, German AJ. Association between life span and body condition in neutered client-owned dogs. J Vet Intern Med. 2019;33(1):89-99. doi:10.1111/jvim.15367