Nutrition Category IconNutrition

Best Dog Foods For Weight Management: 7 Low Calorie Picks

Emma Braby

Last Updated: April 14, 2020 | 13 min read

Best Dog Foods For Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for your pooch’s long-term health and wellbeing, so it is really important to make sure that if he does get a little chunky, to return 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 some dogs, no matter how much they eat, will never seem to put on any weight, and just like us humans, they are all different.

Before reading this guide it is important to understand that weight loss food should never be fed to puppies, as these foods do not have the nutrients and growing power that they need to grow into healthy adults. Weight management foods are only intended for those dogs who need to lose weight or those dogs who are very sedentary and are susceptible to quick weight gain.

In this guide, we will talk you through how to know if he is overweight, the reasons why he may be putting on weight, other tips regarding weight loss, and our favorite weight-loss kibbles. So, whether you’re here because your Veterinarian has told you that your pooch needs to lose some weight, or you think that he has put on a little bit of chunk after the Christmas period and you want to shift it, then read this comprehensive canine weight loss guide.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Dog Foods For Weight Loss

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to Amazon.com, where you can get additional product information and customer reviews. If you make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Why Dogs Gain Weight

Overweight Dachshund
Dogs can gain weight for a variety of different reasons.

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

Too Much Food

Whilst 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 be dependant on many factors, such as age, breed, and energy levels, so there is not one size fits all rule here. Generally, dogs need around 30 calories per pound of weight every day, but you can calculate how much food he should be eating with this calorie calculator.

All of our high-quality kibble recommendations below offer feeding instructions on their packaging, but if you are in any doubt about 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 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, and as such they will need less food, so you might find that your Veterinarian will recommend a dog food nutritionally engineered for senior dogs as a result.

Breed Type

Some dog breeds are more prone to piling on the pounds than others. For example, the Pug is notorious for easily putting on weight, and many Pugs are fed dog food with a lower calorie count for their entire adult life. The Labrador is also known to become too porky as he has a gene missing that tells him when he is full, so he is forever hungry and consistently over consumes 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 will be able to advise you what your dog’s healthy weight should be.

Illness

If you are still not sure as to 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. Just 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.

Whilst the majority of these conditions can be managed and are not life-threatening, if left untreated they can cause further issues, so 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 a weight loss dog food.

Hopefully you will now have some idea about why your pooch might have gained his extra weight, and now it is time to focus on his nutrition. In addition to an all natural high-quality kibble, listed below are the extra things to look out for in a weight management 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. Whilst 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 kibbles will have a high fiber content for these reasons, and a high fiber content is anywhere between 6% to 12%. However, not all dogs do well on a higher fiber content, so we have included some lower fiber content kibbles 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

The majority of weight management kibble will be low in calories and fat, because, quite simply, if your pooch 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 kibble that is low in both fat and calories. 

L-Carnitine

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

Weight Management Dog Foods

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 a weight management food it will be much easier to identify which kibbles are the best around for weight loss. However, researching nutrition can be 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 too.

All of our recommendations below are the best on the market, and not only will we break down exactly why they are the best, we have created a comparative table below for easy comparison. So, in no particular order, here are our top natural dry kibbles perfect for those porkier pups who need to manage their weight.

 
Science Diet
Nutro Ultra
Nulo Trim
Orijen Trim
Merrick Healthy
Blue Buffalo
Victor Healthy
Protein
29%
23%
30%
42%
34%
30%
27%
Fats
11%
10%
7%
13%
8%
10%
11.5%
Fiber
10%
4%
6%
8%
5%
10%
4.5%
Kcal/Cup
291
335
368
425
350
353
360
First Ingredients-Chicken
-Barley
-Brown Rice
-Pea Fiber
-Corn Meal
-Chicken
-Chicken Meal
-Brown Rice
-Brewers Rice
-Rice Bran
-Deboned Cod
-Turkey
-Salmon Meal
-Lentils
-Yellow Peas
-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

Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult,...
  • Breakthrough adult dry dog food clinically proven for weight...
  • Over 70 % of adult dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this...
  • Help your grown dog maintain a healthy weight with this dog food
  • This adult dog food supports muscle maintenance

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Hill’s Science Diet is made and recommended by Veterinarians and Nutritionists across America, which means that because this recipe is trusted by the 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 kibbles 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

NUTRO ULTRA Adult Weight Management High...
  • Contains One (1) 30 Lb. Bag Of Nutro Ultra Adult Weight...
  • Features Trio Of Protein From Chicken, Lamb, And Salmon—Chicken...
  • Our Premium Dog Food Kibble Is Made With High-Quality Ingredients...
  • Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food Is Made With High-Quality Protein And...

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

This recipe is made with real chicken, chicken meal, lamb meal and salmon meal, which not only meets his protein needs, but it 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, 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.

It 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.


Nulo Adult Trim

Nulo Adult Trim Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry...
  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes;...
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 74% animal-based protein,...
  • PATENTED BC30 PROBIOTIC supports healthy gut flora to aid...
  • L-CARNITINE transports fatty acids into cellular mitochondria...

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

This recipe has the lowest fat content on this list, which helps to keep your pooch trim and healthy. It is full of turkey, cod and salmon meal which is a great source of protein, and it has no chicken meat. With lentils, chickpeas and sweet potatoes he will feel fuller for longer, and this will hopefully decrease his between meal food begging. 

This grain free recipe has been reviewed by many other dog owners as being one of the best around for their pooch’s sensitive stomachs, as not only does it have a higher fiber content, but it also has a unique blend of BC30 probiotics, which promote a healthy gut flora and digestion. It also aids healthy metabolism, and in conjunction with L-Carnitine, your pooch will burn fat more efficiently compared to standard kibbles.

We love that this recipe is chicken and egg free, which is great for those dogs who are allergic to the most common protein ingredient, as well as being grain free for those with sensitive stomachs.


Orijen Fit & Trim

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Fit & Trim, Biologically...
  • ORIJEN Fit & Trim dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in...
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs...
  • Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs,...
  • Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and...

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

This premium recipe 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. Whilst you might not like the idea of cartilages, liver and hearts, 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 Healthy Weight

Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry Dog...
  • Nutritionally superior weight loss and weight management formula...
  • Deboned beef is the #1 ingredient, a low fat protein source that...
  • 32% protein
  • Made in the USA

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

This 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 which help to promote a healthy immune system, which will keep him fighting fit.

Online reviewers commented that this 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 dog a grain free diet.

We love that this recipe is made from 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

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain...
  • PACKED WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe made to satisfy your dog’s...
  • GRAIN FREE, HEALTHY WEIGHT DOG FOOD: BLUE Wilderness grain free...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is formulated for the health...

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Blue Buffalo almost always make it onto our food recommendations list simply because they are a premium brand that are tried and tested the world over, always with 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 which provide him with all the vitamins and minerals he needs to maintain a healthy oxidative balance, as well as adding 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. 


Victor Senior Healthy Weight

VICTOR Purpose - Senior/Healthy Weight, Dry...
  • Nutrient-dense recipe made with premium-quality beef, chicken,...
  • Ideal for older dogs that are less active, and adult dogs that...
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin promote long-term joint health
  • Formulated with our scientifically advanced, proven VICTOR Core...

If you click the link above and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

This recipe is designed with senior dogs in mind, and it offers the perfect blend of life stage nutrients that he needs for his aging body and less energetic lifestyle, with less fat and calories compared to other senior kibbles. This gluten free recipe is made with beef, fish, chicken, pork and blood meal, which are not only full of protein but they are all a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin, which is one of the most important ingredients for senior dogs with aging joints, particularly if they are carrying a lot of extra weight. It lists L-Carnitine to help your pooch burn a little more fat given his idle lifestyle.

We love that this recipe is designed with the heavy senior pooch in mind, so you can be sure that not only will he lose weight with this recipe, but it includes the specific life stage nutrients that he needs in his later years.


Other Tips for Losing Weight

Whilst the above kibbles 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, which you need to stick too. 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. Dependent 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 less 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 as he should then speak to your Veterinarian, and they will be able to advise you accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is my dog overweight?
A: The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that in 2018, over 55% of dogs in America were overweight and obese, so it is more than likely that at some point during your dogs 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 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.

Q: How often should I exercise my dog?
A: This depends, but usually it’s recommended a minimum of 30 minutes per day outdoors with some type of walking activity.

Q: Are there any brands that help weight loss more than others?
A: 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.

Final Thoughts

There will come a time in almost every dog’s life where 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.

Leave a Comment