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5 Best Puppy Foods for Weight Gain

In this guide we’ll take a look at the best puppy foods for weight gain.
We’ve compared quality of ingredients, nutritional information, and value for money
to give you our top recommendations below.

Breed Advisor only recommends products that we’ve tested, or significantly researched . This page contains affiliate links, that at no additional cost to you, may earn a small commission for the site. Find out more here.

What is the Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain?

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Vet’s Advice

Most puppies are good at self-regulating their weight as they grow and develop. If you are feeding a complete puppy diet that is appropriate for their age and size, the majority of pups will mature as expected. However, there may be some scenarios where you want to help things along — for example, if your pup hasn’t had the best start in life or if your veterinarian can’t find any other issues on examination but suggests that they are a bit underweight. Here is what to look for when choosing a diet to help your puppy gain weight.

Choose a calorie-dense diet

A good starting point is to compare diets to see what their calorie (energy) content is for a like-to-like volume of food. If one diet has more calories per cup than another this will help encourage weight gain in your puppy. These calories should be derived from good-quality ingredients.

Look for a highly palatable diet

A tasty diet will mean your pup is likely to eat a bit more of it. This can be helpful when you are feeding several small meals a day — puppies have naturally small tummies and can only eat limited amounts in one sitting. They will look forward to these meal times if the diet contains high-quality meats and healthy fats (like fish oils and chicken fat), which help with flavor.

Choose a diet that has meat as its main ingredient

Check the ingredients list — meat should be at the top. Puppies require good-quality protein to help with their growth and development. Meat meal is also an acceptable ingredient, as this is just a very concentrated form of protein derived from meat that has been dried. Foods that contain high volumes of plant-based proteins, such as cereals, will be harder for your puppy to digest.

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Compare Our Recommended Dog Foods

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that’s most important to you.

  • Top 5 Ingredients
  • Type
  • Lifestage
  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Cost
  • Our score

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Weight Gain Puppy Food Reviews

Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Chicken
    2. Chicken Meal
    3. Whole Brown Rice
    4. Brewers Rice
    5. Rice Bran

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Calories: 360 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 28%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Fiber: 4%

Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food is a diet of exceptional quality that contains all the nutrients puppies need to support them through each phase of their development. Considered to be one of the best puppy foods for weight gain, Nutro Ultra Puppy has three powerhouse proteins as the basis of their formulation: chicken, lamb, and salmon. This potent combination of meats ensures an adequate supply of amino acids to promote strong and lean muscle development and to encourage eating satisfaction.

Whole grains have been included to enrich the fiber content included in this recipe. Each has been selected for its high antioxidant profile thus encouraging a thriving immune system to protect against disease.

The ratio of calcium to phosphorus has been carefully calibrated to encourage a healthy rate of bone growth.

Nutro Ultra Puppy is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Pros

  • Owners were pleased to report that puppies that regularly suffered with flatulence saw an end to this problem when fed a steady diet of Nutro Ultra Puppy.
  • This diet is very reasonably priced. Owners like that this food offers them top tier nutrition for an affordable cost.
  • A few owners indicated that they like that this food bag contains no plastic, so it can be recycled.
  • Puppies enjoy this food and look forward to their every meal. Even very picky puppies lick their bowls clean.
  • Puppies fed this diet had coats that were healthy, soft, and shiny.

Cons

  • In rare cases, some puppies had loose stools when fed this diet. This may be the result of too rapid a dietary change and may resolve given more time.
  • Some puppies developed dull looking coat when fed Nutro Ultra Puppy regularly. This is likely due to a sensitivity to one of the ingredients in the diet.
  • A few puppies ended up with tear staining when fed a steady diet of Nutro Ultra Puppy. Tear staining is not uncommon in puppies during teething. However, sometimes tear staining can be from a diet that is too rich for a dog’s system.
  • Some puppies are uninterested in this food and will not eat it.
  • Some owners expressed that they would prefer to feed their puppies a diet that is grain-free.

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Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Puppy & Performance Dogs Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Chicken Meal
    2. Brown Rice
    3. Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)
    4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp
    5. Ground Grain Sorghum

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Adult and puppy
  • Calories: 522 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Fiber: 3.8%

Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe’s premium tier formulation has been created specifically with the needs of puppies and performance dogs in mind. This American made food places a high emphasis on the use of natural ingredients obtained from the best quality sources to ensure optimal nutrition.

To prevent the possibility of any potential skin or stomach sensitivities in dogs, Adirondack Puppy contains no artificial flavors, fillers, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes. Puppies that are picky eaters will be drawn to this formula for its focus on exceptional flavor, achieved through the slow roasting of each of the meats included in the diet.

This diet contains optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support cognitive development and provide a vital help for skin and coat health. Menhaden fish oil and flaxseed have also been supplemented to enrich the nutritional benefits of this high quality food.

With so many health benefits to offer both puppies and active adults, it is not difficult to see why Adirondack Puppy is rated among the best puppy foods for weight gain.

Pros

  • Owners report they are pleased with their puppies’ development when fed this diet consistently. They feel their growth rate is appropriate for their age and size.
  • Highly active puppies that struggled to maintain a healthy weight were easily able to achieve their ideal body condition when fed Adirondack Puppy on an ongoing basis.
  • The stool quality of puppies fed this diet regularly was greatly improved. Their stools went from loose to firm.
  • Puppies with very sensitive stomachs did well on this diet, finding relief from any symptoms associated with gastrointestinal distress.
  • Puppies suffering from itchy skin due to food-related allergies found complete relief when fed Adirondack Puppy.

Cons

  • Owners noted the packaging of this food indicates that this diet is not suitable for large breed puppies. This is most likely due to its high protein content as excess protein can cause too rapid growth in large and giant puppies, potentially leading to permanent structural issues. They expressed they wished Adirondack offered a formulation with their size pups in mind.
  • A few owners indicated they felt the kibble pieces in this diet were quite small and may pose a choking hazard.
  • Several owners shared this food is difficult to find in their local stores. Thankfully, it can be purchased online and delivered.
  • A few owners felt this diet was little on the costly side.
  • Some owners found this diet was a little too protein-rich for their puppies. When first transitioned to this food, their puppies had a hard time regulating their digestion.

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Sport Dog Food Active Series Cub Buffalo & Oatmeal Formula Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Buffalo Meal
    2. Oat Meal
    3. Dried Sweet Potato
    4. Coconut Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)
    5. Pork Meal

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Calories: 526 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Fiber: 3.3%

Sport Dog Food Active Series Cub Buffalo & Oatmeal Formula Dry Dog Food is a high octane diet that has been crafted to help fuel active sport dogs as well as to promote weight gain in puppies struggling to maintain a good body condition.  Buffalo, a lean animal protein, is the primary ingredient in this food, a meat that is known for being easy to digest.

Taurine has been included to provide a powerful support for cardiac health. Sport Dog Food Active Series Cub contains no legumes, taking all of its protein from meat and including whole grains and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables as its carbohydate content to encourage a strong immune system.

Coconut oil has been added as a boost to maintaining healthy joints as well as excellent skin and coat health.

One of the best puppy foods for weight gain on the market today, it is not hard to see why families love Sport Dog Food Active Series Cub.

Pros

  • Puppies fed this diet regularly had excellent digestion. Their stool quality was firm, and their bowel movements were consistent.
  • Owners were pleased with their puppies’ energy levels when fed a steady diet of Sport Dog Food Active Series Cub.
  • The coats of puppies fed a steady diet of this food was beautiful. Owners shared their puppies’ fur was soft, shiny, and healthy.
  • Puppies enjoy the flavor of this food. They lap up each piece of kibble in their bowl with enthusiasm.
  • Owners like that this diet is free from legumes and flaxseed, feeling this food is a good choice for puppies that may be breeding dogs when they reach the appropriate age.

Cons

  • Owners noted that the kibble size in this diet is quite large. They expressed concern that this may interfere with normal bite development in their puppies.
  • Some puppies disliked this food and would not eat it.
  • Owners expressed they wish this diet was available in smaller bags.
  • The novel proteins in this diet make it an excellent choice for puppies with food-related allergies.
  • This diet contains no supplements to boost optimal joint health in growing puppies.

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VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Chicken Meal
    2. Blood Meal Conventionally Dried
    3. Whole Grain Millet
    4. Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols)
    5. Yeast Culture

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Puppy and adult
  • Calories: 401 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 38%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Fiber: 3.5%

VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro is a high protein food that meets all of the high points puppies and active dogs need from their diet to thrive. To help fuel the activity levels of a busy puppy, Victor Select Nutro Pro places a high emphasis on exceptional quality proteins with carbohydrates derived from easily digestible grains taking a lower priority in this formulation.

This diet, rated among the best puppy foods for weight gain, has been enriched with the essential vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and essential fatty acids to support good health.

Pros

  • This diet is very flavorful. Puppies love the taste of this food and look forward to their every meal.
  • Puppies fed this diet on an ongoing basis saw great improvements in their coat quality. Owners shared that over time their puppies’ coats became thick, lustrous, shiny, and soft.
  • Owners of puppies that struggled to maintain a healthy weight were pleased to share that their pups achieved their ideal body condition when fed Victor Purpose Nutra Pro on a consistent basis.
  • Owners like that this diet is free from the most common allergens for puppies such as wheat, corn, and soy.
  • Several owners liked that this food is appropriate for all life stages, making it a practical choice for owners of multiple dogs.

Cons

  • In rare cases, some puppies developed very bad breath after a steady diet of this food.
  • Several owners shared that they felt the kibble pieces in this diet were very small and could potentially be a choking hazard.
  • A few puppies suffered from mild gastrointestinal distress when fed this diet regularly. This could be as a result of the high protein content, a sensitivity to one of the food’s ingredients, or simply the result of too quick a dietary change.
  • Some owners disliked that this diet is rated as appropriate for all life stages. These people preferred to feed a food that has been designed specifically with growing puppies in mind.
  • The high protein content in this food makes it unsuitable for large breed puppies. Large and giant breed pups require a diet with more moderate protein amounts to support their ideal growth rate.

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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Deboned Chicken
    2. Chicken Meal
    3. Pea Protein
    4. Peas
    5. Tapioca Starch

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Puppy
  • Calories: 423 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 36%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Fiber: 5%

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy offers growing pups all of the nutrition they need to help them grow into healthy adult dogs. This formulation has been enriched with DHA to assist with vital cognitive and vision development. A recipe that focuses on high quality proteins, the main ingredients in this powerhouse food are deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and eggs, providing a potent punch of amino acids to help with muscle growth.

The calcium to phosphorus ratio found in this food is correct to encourage the proper rate of bone growth. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have been supplemented to ensure puppies have the fuel they need to maintain an active lifestyle and to also receive the nutrients required for good coat and skin health.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy is considered to be one of the best puppy foods for weight gain available for purchase today.

Pros

  • Puppies are drawn to this food. The recipe is chock full of flavor to encourage hearty eating in even the pickiest of pups.
  • Owners like that their puppies’ energy levels are normal when fed a regular diet of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy.
  • Owners feel this diet is available at a reasonable price. They feel confident this diet offers premium quality nutrition at an affordable cost.
  • Owners love that this diet is free from grains, feeling it is an excellent choice for puppies with allergies.
  • Owners commented that they like the amount of protein found in this diet, noting that it was a great help to them in assisting their puppies with maintaining their ideal weight.

Cons

  • Some owners preferred to feed their puppies a diet that includes nutritious whole grains. They felt that these ingredients were important for good digestion.
  • A few puppies were tired of this food and would no longer eat it.
  • Owners disliked that this diet includes peas in its formula. Peas are a controversial ingredient that may be linked to lowered fertility rates in breeding dogs.
  • Several owners noted inconsistencies with this diet, sharing that the kibble size sometimes differed from bag to bag.
  • Some puppies dislike the Lifesource Bits found in this food and would not eat them.

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How to Choose the Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain

Puppies that are having difficult gaining or maintaining weight can be at serious risk of illness and can even succumb to death. When a puppy is not gaining weight as it should, there are many different factors that could be at play. Some puppies are simply highly active, expending more calories than they consume. Other puppies seem to lack interest in food either due to the busyness of enjoying life as an active baby or perhaps as a result of the food being disagreeable to their digestive systems or not suited to their personal tastes.

On rarer occasions, a puppy may refuse to eat because there is an underlying medical condition that needs to be examined further. Regardless of the reason why a puppy is not gaining weight as it should, owners should take this problem very seriously. One of the best courses of action a family can take is scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian for a wellness exam to rule out any medical problems which may be preventing the puppy from eating and/or gaining weight appropriately.

When a puppy is not interested in eating or does eat but does not seem able to gain or maintain weight, there are several different approaches owners can take to remedy the problem. These include:

  • Switching to a food that is calorie-dense
  • Feeding smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to stimulate appetite
  • Making a change to a different diet that is more flavorful or easy to digest
  • Providing food for the puppy separately from any other household pets to encourage focus
  • Making use of nutritional supplements such as Nutrical to boost calories consumed

Some caveats should be considered when trying to help a puppy to gain weight. The best puppy foods for weight gain have a concentrated number of calories in smaller portions. This appeals to puppies with poor appetite or that lack the attention span to devote to eating by allowing them to consume more calories without having to up the dog’s meal size. This is a particularly important strategy as increasing the size of a puppy’s meals can lead to a more rapid growth rate than is ideal, leading to later problems.

If owners opt to switch to a different type of puppy food in the hopes that the pup will like it better, and thus, eat more, it is crucial that time be spent examining labels to ensure the new diet is rich in quality ingredients that have been specifically selected for their high nutritional value. Processed or filler foods will add weight over time but will also detract from the puppy’s health.

Sometimes the easiest solution to the problem is changing the diet to something the puppy finds more appealing. This could be another commercially prepared diet or even home cooked or raw foods. Some dogs simply don’t eat because they don’t like the taste of the diet selected for them, and in other cases, the ingredients contained in a food may upset their stomachs, causing them to avoid meal times.

Making the change to a home cooked or raw diet or even to canned food is an excellent way to add additional calories without having to increase meal sizes. These diets also tend to be packed with flavors and fragrances that entice even the most reluctant eater to take a bite or two.

Increasing a puppy’s activity level marginally can also help to encourage better eating habits. Through regular exercise, the puppy will develop more muscle which thus increases the dog’s weight.

Though free feeding is not normally encouraged in dogs, it is a good idea for puppies that are struggling to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

If none of these strategies prove effective at getting a puppy to gain weight, a trip to a veterinarian is in order to rule out any potential medical problems. Among the reasons a puppy may struggle to maintain a proper body condition include:

  • Stress
  • Parasites
  • Worms
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid issues
  • Dental problems
  • Insufficient nutrition

Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Foods that help Puppies Gain Weight

In puppies that struggle to maintain weight properly, it is vitally important that their portion sizes of the best puppy food for weight gain be correct. The best method to achieve this is to use the suggested serving size on the bag as a starting point. This may need to be adjusted until the dog’s body condition is in keeping with what is appropriate for the dog’s breed and age.

Care should be taken not to feed so much that the puppy begins to grow at too a rapid a rate. This can be affected both by the amount of food fed as well as foods that do not contain the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus. When the calcium to phosphorus balance is not calibrated properly, bone growth can occur too quickly, leaving the muscle development unable to keep pace with it. When this occurs, it leads to future structural problems that are often irredeemable.

Any puppy food that is optimized to meet the needs of a young, developing dog should contain a minimum of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat.

Dietary Requirements for Foods that help Puppies Gain Weight

Puppies that need to gain weight should do so at a pace that is slow and steady. Too much growth, too quickly can lead to future issues including structural problems with the dog’s musculoskeletal system and even organ failure.

The best course of action to help a puppy gain weight in a natural and healthful way is to select a diet that has a very high concentration of calories. These calories should be derived from only the best and most natural ingredients to ensure optimal health and wellness. Diets that are high in calories but that obtain them primarily from fats or simple carbohydrates are not nutritionally balanced and will increase the dog’s amount of fat instead of muscle tone.

Proteins should be obtained from meats. Whole meats are preferred, but meat meals are also an excellent concentrated source of protein that puppies can benefit from. Higher protein foods are desirable for puppies that need to gain weight.

The best puppy foods for weight gain avoid by-products and plant-based proteins such as wheat, corn, and soy as they are difficult to digest and are only of sub-par nutritional value.

Among the most desirable meats to look for in a puppy food to help with weight gain are beef, chicken, bison, and fish.

Ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives offer no nutritional value to a food. These can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs, and thus, diets containing them are best avoided entirely.

Carbohydrates can be derived from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. The primary importance of any of these ingredients is their focus on ease of digestibility and their high antioxidant profile to support a strong immune system.

Healthy fats are a critical component of any diet for a dog. These are best derived from animal origins and include such items as chicken fat and oily fish. Healthy fats encourage good coat and skin health and also help provide puppies with the energy they need to remain active.

To aid with digestion, foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics are also excellent choices for puppies.

Things to Look for in the Best Puppy Food for Weight Gain

Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in the best puppy food for weight gain:

  • 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 and helpful supplements
  • Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
  • Contains healthy amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health
  • Includes the correct ratio of calcium to phosphorus

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