How to Choose the Best Dog Food to Gain Weight and Muscle
Most dogs follow the patterns of their owners, leaning more towards being overweight than underweight. But on occasion, dogs struggle to maintain a healthy body condition, and when this occurs, it is important to try to find a diet to help the dog return to a normal body weight.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, many people have difficulty determining what an overweight and an underweight pet looks like. In general, dogs that are not maintaining a correct weight will exhibit similar symptoms including very obvious rib, hip, and shoulder bones. In addition to these visual cues, underweight dogs often suffer from fatigue, poor coat quality, depression, and loss of appetite.
Most often; when these changes are detected, a physical problem is at play. It is a good idea to take the dog to a veterinarian for a thorough examination and assessment to rule out any medical problems that are resulting in the weight loss.
Weight loss in dogs is only one indication that a more serious medical issue may be present in a dog. Among the health problems that include weight loss as one of their symptoms are:
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intestinal parasites
- Thyroid issues
- Liver disease
- Dental issues
Getting to the bottom of what is causing the weight loss is a key component of helping the dog to return to a normal healthy weight. While diet may not be sufficient to treat the problem on its own, it certainly does play a role in canine health and wellness.
Other reasons that can explain weight loss in dogs are poor quality diet, poor digestion, extreme exposure to cold, and stress.
The best dog food to gain weight and muscle can be a powerful help in restoring underweight dogs to a healthy body condition.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dogs to Gain Weight and Muscle
With puppies, care must be taken to not encourage a growth rate that is accelerated as this can lead to permanent structural problems in the future. For puppies that are not maintaining a normal weight, it is best to work directly with a veterinarian to resolve this issue.
Precautions should be observed with underweight adult dogs as well. Dogs generally do not become underweight in an abbreviated amount of time. To ensure the health and well-being of the dog, a conservative approach to weight gain and muscle development is important.
To begin the process of gaining weight at a healthy rate, the portion size of the dog’s daily meals can be marginally increased. This will allow the dog to eat more calories without noticing much difference to its regular daily intake.
Frequency of meals can also be adjusted by taking the total number of calories including the slight increase and dividing those calories into three or four meals fed throughout the day. A change of diet to something with higher calories and protein can also assist with a healthy rate of weight gain, particularly if the food is very calorie and nutrient-dense. However, these foods are also more filling, so it is possible the dog will need less of the food to feel satisfied, and thus, will not eat much.
Though strongly discouraged for most dogs, free feeding may be an effective strategy for dogs in need of weight gain. Treats and supplements designed to support overall canine health can also be beneficial in the development of muscle. Select extremely high value treats to encourage a healthy appetite.
Puppy foods also contain more calories and may make an excellent choice to help dogs gain weight appropriately. It is also an excellent idea to purchase a food that is well-renowned for its flavor to increase its appeal for dogs struggling with low weight and/or poor appetite.
Though most typically foods for adults should contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat; in dogs needing to put on a few pounds, a diet that consists of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat or more is ideal.
High-protein diets are very beneficial when it comes to muscle development. However, to achieve strong, healthy muscles, regular daily exercise is a must.
Weight gain should be monitored daily and adjustments made to keep progress moving at a healthy rate. Regular veterinary appointments are also an excellent way to keep tabs on the dog’s health during the weight gain process.
To determine how much of the best dog food to gain weight and muscle to feed a dog for weight gain, it is best to seek the advice of a veterinarian who can provide amounts and a daily feeding schedule to encourage weight gain at a healthy rate.
Dietary Requirements for Dogs looking to Gain Weight and Muscle
The most effective means to help a dog gain weight and assist with muscle development is to make the change to a diet that is higher in calories and protein. However, balance is still vitally important in any food selected for an underweight dog, so it is crucial that the diet selected is still nutritionally sound though more calorie-dense.
The best foods for dogs to gain weight and muscle place a high emphasis on protein. Of the utmost importance is the quality and source of the protein included in a food. It should be derived from animal origins and should be the first ingredient in the recipe. Whole meats are best, but meat meals are also an excellent choice. By-products and plant-based proteins offer poor nutritional value and are hard to digest, so foods containing them should be avoided.
If possible, select a diet with a protein content between 22-35 percent. By comparison, the fat ratio for weight gain should be between 15 to 18 percent. Foods with fat counts higher than this can also cause gastrointestinal distress and issues with proper elimination of waste. All fats should come from animal sources with chicken fat and salmon oil among the best.
Though carbohydrates should form a lesser portion of a diet for dogs in need of weight gain, the fiber and antioxidants they contribute are still important. Fruits and vegetables should be selected for their quality and nutrients to support digestion and a healthy immune system.
It is best not to start a new food abruptly. Over a period of a week, gradually incorporate some of the new food into the old food, increasing the new diet and decreasing the old very slowly until the meals now consist only of the new food. At the first sign of stomach or bowel distress, it is best to take a step backwards and reduce the amount of the new food, making up the difference with the old food and proceeding more slowly until a proper balance is achieved.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food to Gain Weight and Muscle
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a dog food to gain weight and muscle:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Includes healthy fats such as chicken fat or salmon oil