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Best Dog Foods For Weight Management: 6 Low Calorie Picks And Reviews

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Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 12 min read | Leave a Comment

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Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your pooch’s long-term health and well-being, so it is essential to make sure that if he does get a little chunky, it returns him back to his healthy weight. In order to do this, it’s crucial to find the best dog food for weight management and weight loss that will work with your dog’s digestive system. Some dogs have slow metabolisms and easily pile on the pounds, whereas other dogs never seem to put on any weight, no matter how much they eat. Just like us humans, they are all different. Some dogs may need weight management dog food.

It is essential to understand that weight loss food should never be fed to puppies, as they do not have the necessary nutrients and growing power to grow into healthy adults. Weight management foods are intended for dogs who are overweight or obese and need to lose weight. It can also be helpful for dogs who are very sedentary and susceptible to quick weight gain.

In this guide, let’s talk about how to know if he is overweight, why he may be putting on weight, other tips regarding weight loss, and our favorite weight-loss foods. So, whether you’re here because your veterinarian told you that your pup needs to lose some weight or you think he has put on a little chunk after the holiday season, it’s a great idea to read this comprehensive canine weight loss and obesity guide.

At A Glance: Our Favorite Weight Loss Dog Foods

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best Overall

The Farmer’s Dog

Our Rating

Best Low Calorie

Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight

Our Rating

Best Low Fiber

Nutro Ultra Weight Management

Why Do Dogs Gain Weight?

Overweight Dachshund

Dogs can gain weight for a variety of different reasons.

Before you do anything to your pup’s food, it is crucial to understand why your dog has become overweight. There are many reasons for this. Some are obvious, and some are not, but listed below are some of the most common reasons your pooch might be piling on the pounds.

Too Much Food

While this might seem like an obvious contributing factor, many owners do not understand their dog’s nutritional needs. However, it is quite simple in that if your dog eats more calories than he burns, he will gain weight.

The amount of food you feed your dog will depend on many factors, such as age, breed, and energy levels, so there is no one-size-fits-all rule here. Generally, dogs need around 30 calories per pound of weight every day.

All of our high-quality food recommendations below offer feeding instructions on their packaging, but if you doubt how much to feed him, then speak to your veterinarian, who will be more than happy to advise you.

Not Enough Exercise

Exercise is crucial for a healthy body, and it will help to both lose the excess weight and maintain it when he has achieved his weight goals. Again, all dogs are different in that some need a little exercise, such as a King Charles Spaniel, and others, like the Australian Cattle Dog, need a lot of it.

Most dogs need between 20 and 60 minutes of exercise every day, with some breeds needing much more and some needing less, but if they do not get the exercise that they need, then they will become overweight and unhealthy.

As dogs become older, or even if they have temporarily injured themselves and need to recover with rest, they naturally become more sedentary. As such, they will need less food. Your veterinarian may recommend a dog food nutritionally engineered for senior dogs as a result.

Breed Type

Some dog breeds are more prone to obesity than others. For example, the Pug is notorious for quickly gaining weight, and many Pugs are fed dog food with a lower calorie count for their entire adult life. The Labrador is also prone to becoming too porky as he has a gene missing that tells him when he is full, so he is forever hungry and consistently overconsumes his dog food.

Some breeds, like the Greyhound, are super skinny, and Siberian Huskies can eat their dog food without worrying because of their super-fast metabolism and eat very little despite being one of the most energetic dog breeds. Again, your veterinarian can advise you what your dog’s healthy weight should be.

Illness

If you are still unsure why your pooch might be piling on the pounds, then it is time to take him to his veterinarian, as there might be an underlying cause for his weight gain. Like us humans, significant weight loss or weight gain could be a symptom of a serious medical condition, such as Cushing’s Disease or Hypothyroidism.

The majority of these conditions can be managed and are not life-threatening. If left untreated, they can cause further issues. It is best to get this gain investigated and manage such conditions before they worsen.

Buyers Guide

Overweight Dog on a Scale Losing Weight
There are several important factors to consider when buying weight-loss dog food.

Hopefully, you will now have some idea about why your pup might have gained extra weight, and now it is time to focus on his nutrition. You want to feed him a top-quality diet to promote lean muscle mass, proper development, and healthy brain growth. In addition to all-natural, high-quality recipes, listed below are the extra things to look out for in a weight-loss dog food recipe:

High Fiber Content

Fiber derives from plants, and it is a form of complex carbohydrates that will fill your pooch up for longer without many calories. Although it has little value in terms of nutrients, it is very important as it keeps the digestive system functioning well, and it removes waste from your dog’s body that might otherwise be harmful, all of which assist in healthy weight management.

Most weight management dog foods will have a high fiber content for these reasons, and high fiber content is anywhere between 6% and 12%. However, not all dogs do well on higher fiber content, so we have included some lower fiber content foods on this list, too. Some of the best higher fiber ingredients in dog food include green veggies, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oats, legumes, apples, and peaches.

Low Calories And Low Fat

Most weight management recipes will be low in calories and fat because, quite simply, if your pup doesn’t burn off what he eats, he will put on weight. If you want your pooch to lose weight, then he needs to eat food that is low in both fat and calories.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a vitamin-like amino acid that aids healthy metabolism. It has been scientifically proven to aid weight loss in dogs and cats. Many weight management recipes list L-carnitine in the ingredients, so this is another key weight loss ingredient to look out for.

Weight Management Dog Foods Review

Top Dog Foods For Weight Loss

There are several foods that can help your dog lose weight safely.

Now that you know the main components to look out for in weight-loss dog food, it will be much easier to identify which recipes are the best around for weight loss. However, researching canine nutrition is a lengthy process, and not all labels can be trusted, so we’ve done all of the hard work just so that you don’t have to. Dogs should have a mix of dry dog food and wet dog food in their bowls to keep them healthy and offer flavor variety.

All of our recommendations below are the best on the market, and not only will we break down exactly why they are the best, but we have also created a comparative table below for easy comparison. So, in no particular order, here are our top options for overweight dogs and those needing a controlled diet for weight management.

The Farmer's Dog
Science Diet
Nutro Ultra
Orijen Trim
Merrick Healthy
Blue Buffalo
Victor Healthy
Protein
40%
29%
23%
42%
34%
30%
27%
Fats
28%
11%
10%
13%
8%
10%
11.5%
Fiber
6%
10%
4%
8%
5%
10%
4.5%
Kcal/Cup
435
291
335
425
350
353
360
First Ingredients-Chicken
-Beef
-Turkey
-Chicken
-Barley
-Brown Rice
-Pea Fiber
-Corn Meal
-Chicken
-Chicken Meal
-Brown Rice
-Brewers Rice
-Rice Bran
-Chicken
-Whole Eggs
-Whole Herring
-Turkey
-Chicken Liver
-Deboned Beef
-Chicken Meal
-Peas
-Sweet Potatoes
-Potatoes
-Deboned Chicken
-Chicken Meal
-Pea Protein
-Peas
-Tapioca Starch
-Beef Meal
-Brown Rice
-Grain Millet
-Grain Sorghum
-Chicken Fat

The Farmer's Dog

  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

The Farmer’s Dog offers four grain-free recipes that always offer more fresh-frozen meat than any other ingredient. Depending on the formula, you will get a mix of veggies and meats like sweet potatoes, green beans, or even broccoli, among the fresh produce fiber sources. All of these superfoods pack a lot of nutrients, maintaining a robust immune system. Every recipe is AAFCO-certified for all life stages, and the meal plan is customized for your overweight dog. You can feel confident that your dog’s next meal will meet all of his nutritional needs to keep him healthy and trim.

If you’d prefer to include grains, you can always cook up some rice to mix in. This will not only help your dog’s diet but also spread the food across more meals, saving you money.

We love that these recipes are cooked fresh for your best friend, and portions are customized based on their weight, activity level, and goals. Every ingredient is human-grade, so you can be sure that your dog is getting the very best dog food possible. The Farmer’s Dog is a top pick for dogs of all breeds and all ages.


Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight Review

  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Kibble supports muscle retention.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Low calories.
  • Made in the United States.

Hill’s Science Diet is made and recommended by veterinarians and nutritionists across America. Because this recipe is trusted by professionals, you can also trust that your pooch is in the best hands. It is clinically proven to help dogs lose weight in just 10 weeks, according to their own study. It has L-carnitine listed in the ingredients, as well as plenty of added vitamins and minerals to support his overall wellness. There are plenty of fibrous ingredients such as carrots, peas, and dried beet pulp to keep him full, as well as antioxidants such as apples and cranberries.

This recipe still provides a high level of protein, with chicken being the first ingredient, so this healthy recipe does not compromise on taste or the ability to repair muscle mass. This recipe is made with grains, as it includes ingredients such as barley and corn, but this makes it a great option for those who do not wish to feed their dog a grain-free diet. It also has prebiotic fibers, with many owners reviewing that this was great for their pooch’s sensitive stomach. This is one of the best weight loss dog foods, and Blue Buffalo is a brand we consistently see in our other lists.

We love that this recipe has the lowest number of calories per cup compared to all the other foods on this list, which is great for those super idle pooches who do not burn much energy. Science Diet also makes this recipe for small and toy breeds with smaller kibble pieces.


Nutro Ultra Weight Management Review

  • Reduced calorie formula.
  • Three lean animal protein base.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  • Low Fiber.

Nutro’s recipe is made with real chicken, chicken meal, lamb meal, and salmon meal, which not only meets his protein needs but is full of glucosamine and chondroitin, which supports healthy bones and joints, which is important if he is particularly overweight or if he is an older pooch. The grains are brown and wholesome, which means that not only is it easier for him to digest, but it also doesn’t spike his sugar levels, which leads to a steady appetite rather than persistent hunger urges. Many online reviewers commented that after trying many weight management recipes, including Veterinarian prescription kibbles, this is by far the best and most effective they have tried.

Nutro is full of natural superfoods such as spinach, kale, carrots, coconut, blueberries, and apples to support his immune system, as well as flaxseed and Omega 3 fatty acids that promote a healthy coat and skin, so it doesn’t only assist his weight loss, but it also keeps him in good overall condition. It has the lowest fiber content on this list, which makes it a good option for those pooches who do not do well on a high-fiber diet.

We love that this recipe is made with a blend of 15 superfoods, which means that he is still going to receive all of the vitamins and minerals that he needs. Nutro Ultra also makes this recipe for smaller breeds too.


Orijen Fit & Trim High-Protein Review

Orijen Freeze Dried Dog Food
  • First ingredient is fresh chicken meat.
  • Includes a variety of lean animal, fish, and fowl.
  • Contains whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Lower fat content than other recipes.
  • Grain-free recipe.

Orijen is a premium recipe that has the highest calorie content on this list, so if you have a super porky pup, then this might not be the best option for you. But it is great for those dogs who are still energetic and need their energy, and it is still much lower in calories compared to other standard kibbles. Despite being a healthy diet recipe, this ingredient list does not scrimp on protein, and with the first five ingredients being high-quality protein, it will keep his lean muscles healthy and provide him with a biologically appropriate diet, just as nature intended him to have. You might not like the idea of cartilage, liver, and heart, but it will drive your pooch crazy!

This Orijen formula is full of antioxidants and is often compared to other high-quality dog food brands. Omega 3 fatty acids. After rich protein sources, the rest of this recipe is made with nutrient-dense fibers and antioxidants, such as pumpkin, zucchini, apples, cranberries, and parsnips, and it is grain-free too.

We love that this premium award-winning recipe has a very high protein content for his other nutritional needs and mirrors what he would have eaten in the wild. While it does have the highest calorie and fat content on this list, it is suited to those energetic or working dogs who need to maintain a healthy weight or just lose a little rather than lose a lot of weight.


Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Review

Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie
  • Formulated to help pets maintain healthy weight.
  • Real deboned beef is primary ingredient.
  • Contains 55% protein and healthy fat and 45% produce, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other natural ingredients.
  • 80% of protein comes from animal sources.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin.

The Merrick recipe is made with natural protein and vegetables and has no nasty or pointless fillers. After the above premium recipe, this recipe has the second-highest protein content, which is great for those muscular dogs who need to maintain their muscle mass. and it lists salmon oil and flaxseed, too, which is great for his skin and coat. It has added vitamins and minerals that help to promote a healthy immune system, which will keep him fighting fit.

Online reviewers commented that Merrick’s recipe was yummy enough for their fussiest dogs, so if you also have a picky pooch, then this might be the one for you. It is also grain-free, which is important for those owners who wish to feed their dogs a grain-free diet.

We love that this recipe uses 55% animal protein and 45% vegetables, fruit, and other natural goodness, so you know that everything in this recipe is good for him.


Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Review

  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Contains high-quality protein.
  • L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
  • Glucosamine supports your pup’s joints.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.

Blue Buffalo almost always makes it onto our food recommendations list simply because they are a premium brand that is tried and tested the world over. Blue Buffalo always has very good results against other competing brands. This healthy weight recipe is full of fiber, such as peas, sweet potatoes, and dried chicory root, which keeps pooches feeling fuller for longer without the extra calories from fatty ingredients. It also lists L-carnitine, which increases his metabolism and fat-burning potential.

In addition to the crunchy kibble, they also include their unique LifeSource Bits, which are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. These provide him with all the vitamins and minerals he needs to maintain a healthy oxidative balance, as well as add a textural difference to keep your pooch interested. Many reviewers commented that this recipe offers the same great taste with far less fat and calories compared to their standard recipe, and their pooch did not notice the switch.

We love that this recipe has the highest fiber content on this list, which is great for those dogs who are always on the hunt for food and snacks, and it is grain-free, too.


Other Tips For Losing Weight

While the above foods are the best around for weight loss, they are not a miracle cure, and his weight loss journey needs more than just the right nutrition, so be sure to implement the following tips.

  • Exercise:  Dr. Ochoa at the American Kennel Club recommends that you create an exercise plan that you need to stick to. If your pooch is particularly overweight, then be sure to start off slowly and begin your day with a 10 to 15-minute walk.
  • Weekly Weight Monitoring: Just as you would with your weight, be sure to monitor his weight weekly and keep a diary of it. Depending on the size of your dog, a few extra pounds might not be visible, but by monitoring his weight, you can ensure that you know to feed him fewer treats and exercise him that bit more the following week.
  • Patience: Be patient with your pooch, and remember that crash dieting is just as bad for him as it is for us humans. If you are worried that he is not losing weight, he should then speak to your veterinarian. They will be able to advise you accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my dog overweight?

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that in 2018, over 55% of dogs in America were overweight or obese, so it is more than likely that at some point during your dog’s life, he might find himself slightly heavier than he should be. The easiest way to check if your dog is overweight is simply by looking at him. Looking from above, you should be able to see a defined waist towards his rear rather than an oval shape. When you look at him from the side, you should be able to see that his waist is raised and clearly at a different level compared to his abdomen. When feeling his chest, you should be able to feel his ribs without pressing too hard, and if you can’t feel them, then it is likely that your pooch is overweight.

How often should I exercise my dog?

This depends, but usually, it’s recommended a minimum of 30 minutes per day outdoors with some type of walking activity.

Are there any brands that help weight loss more than others?

Any of the dog food brands we’ve mentioned above should help your pup lose weight if used in conjunction with a daily exercise routine. Fresh, human-grade dog food can be very helpful, as it tastes great and has top nutritional value.

Final Thoughts

There will come a time in almost every dog’s life when he will put on a little too much weight, but after reading our comprehensive guide, you are now equipped with everything you need to know to get him to shift those unwanted pounds.

In order for your pooch to lose weight, he needs to either burn more energy than what he eats or eat less than he burns. By finding and eating the best dog foods for weight loss that your dog can digest easily and pairing that with an exercise routine, your pup should lose weight in good time.

Following a check-up to make sure that the weight gain is not a result of something more serious, all the advice found here should be implemented in conjunction with your veterinarian’s advice.

Comparing Merrick and Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Author's Suggestion

Merrick vs. Blue Buffalo: Dog Food Brand Comparison

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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