Best Weight Loss Dog Foods

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In her new article, How to Help Your Overweight Dog Lose Weight, Dr. Donna Spector, a well-known veterinary specialist, shares the secret to predictable weight loss…
Bulldog

Dogs that consume fewer calories than they burn lose weight

Dr. Spector suggests feeding your pet a dog food containing…

  • Above-average protein1
  • Below-average fat2
  • Below-average calories3

How We Selected
Our Best Weight Loss Dog Foods

If you believe your pet is overweight, here are a few weight loss dog foods for you to consider.

To be included on our list…

Suggested products must meet all three conditions mentioned above. They must contain above-average protein, below-average fat and 250 to 350 calories per cup of kibble… or per 13-ounce can.

Of course, this list should not be considered a complete catalog of all the weight loss dog foods on the market.

For there are others. Many others. We provide this small group only as a starting point.

As a matter of fact, if you know of a specific dog food you believe we should have included on this list, please feel free to share your suggestions in the Comments section below.

Or if you’re looking for some suggestions yourself, be sure to look through our readers’ Comments to find more good ideas.

Suggested Weight Loss Dog Foods

The following suggested weight loss dog foods contain links to the reviews they can be found in. The article itself may or may not be associated with the actual products listed here.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Footnotes

  1. Average protein: 29% (dry) and 40% (canned)
  2. Average fat: 16% (kibble) and 23% (canned)
  3. 250-350 calories per 8-ounce cup kibble or per 13-ounce can
  • Crazy4dogs

    That’s wonderful that you got your dog down to a healthy weight!

    The problem is Hill’s is only 260 calories per cup, so you need to feed the dog a diet that has similar calories to what you were feeding to keep the weight off. It’s like weight watchers, etc for people. They often lose the weight and when they go back to their regular diet, they gain it all back. You don’t want to ping pong like that as it’s not healthy for anyone, including dogs. You need to read the bags carefully and keep him at the same caloric intake (or slightly more so he doesn’t keep losing) to keep the weight off.

    My dogs are very fit and active (they walk 2 miles/day including my almost 11 year old lab) and yet they eat less than the recommended guideline on almost any dog food. We just were in for annual checkups and blood/urine panels and everything was great. My 80 lb dog only gets the equivalent of about 2.5-2.75 cups of food a day as the foods I feed are higher in calories by almost twice what Hill’s kcal/cup is. I feed a combination of grain free kibble/cannned and raw/fresh daily.

    Just watch those calories (including treats) and you should have success! Good Luck with it!

  • Liz

    Well, you know one now! My dog went from 125 lbs to 87 lbs in less than a year on Hill’s prescription diet metabolic formula!! We only fed him the recommended amount of food and the corresponding treats. Might have increased his exercise a little, but not too much and now he is much healthier and happier. Looking now for a more economical food to help him maintain his weight.

  • Shawna

    From the same link as in the above post – article titled “Hypertriglyceridemia-induced recurrent acute pancreatitis: A case-based review”

    “Discussion
    The association between acute pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia is well known, both as a precipitant and as an epiphenomenon.[8] The coexistent medical conditions such as diabetes should prompt further workup.[9] Hypertriglyceridemia can be primary in less than 5% of the cases, due to genetic causes and more often secondary to other causes like diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, excess carbohydrate intake, hypothyroidism, alcohol, hepatitis, sepsis, renal failure, and drugs like estrogen, glucocorticoids, β blocker, bile acid binding resins, thiazide, tamoxifen cyclosporine protease inhibitors, and isotretinoin.[10]” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263185/

    Nowhere in there does it mention dietary fats, even in excess.

    If there is a major risk factor with high fat diets then why do you suppose the AAFCO (the one pet food manufacturers adhere to) has NO maximum limit on dietary fats (at least per the AAFCO chart listed on Drs Foster & Smith website? http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=662

    Let’s not forget that there is NO dietary requirement for carbohydrates at all.

    Yes, I would imagine that folks beginning a high fat diet could have an increase in the expression of pancreatitis but again was fat the CAUSE or was the pancreas already inflamed by other factors (such as obesity, medications etc)?

    Is there a genetic susceptibility where fat may be problematic for a few animals — yeah, probably so. I’m sorry for your girl. But if we are going to damn a macronutrient for the few that may have an issue, then why wouldn’t we do the same with gluten, casein, nightshades etc which are individual foods not a necessary nutrient and are capable of causing autoimmunity, behind the scenes?

    Lastly, yes I would agree that dogs are different than humans but what makes you think that dogs, and especially cats, are better equipped at handling higher carbohydrate diets then higher fat diets? They can’t live without fats, they can live without carbohydrates. It’s just that simple.

  • aimee

    Shawna,

    You wrote “You have apparently not found even one peer reviewed, published research
    paper linking “dietary fats” as an initial cause of pancreatitis (in
    otherwise healthy individuals)?” yet you yourself reported that pancreatitis resulted from the feeding of a high fat low protein diet. Did it not link dietary fat with cause of pancreatitis?

    If there was no risk with high fat diet than why do you suppose the NRC set a safe upper limit?

    If you accept that hypertriglyceridemia and hyperlipidemia cause pancreatitis then I can’t see how you can deny that dietary fat can trigger pancreatitis! Hyperlipidemia is a normal physiologic event following fat ingestion.

    As I said “in regards to pancreatitis, I wouldn’t say fat causes pancreatitis so
    much as it is a risk factor for pancreatitis. I think how the individual
    handles fat is a key factor here.”

    Is it that you consider any dog/cat that has delayed fat clearance from blood relative to others as being “unhealthy” ? If so then I may agree with you that dietary fat won’t cause pancreatitis in an otherwise “healthy” individual. But i don’t see these individuals as “unhealthy” just different!

    I previously posted the source for “high-fat diets can contribute to elevated triglyceride levels
    substantial enough to provoke [ a synonym for cause] pancreatitis”

    And while a higher carb diet may increase triglycerides a bit I don’t see the high levels that experimentally cause pancreatitis will be achieved by a high carb diet. Levels that high come from feeding high fat in a susceptible individual.

    I found this interesting; proceedings which compared pancreatitis risk factors in people vs dogs http://www.clinicalvetnews-eukanuba.com/uk/pdf/Proceedings_201309_UK.pdf

    In it is says that most heavy drinkers do not get pancreatitis; genetic risk factors are at play and that the equivalent in dogs may be dietary fat ie genetic susceptibility.

    Here is a paper discussing this issue in Burmese cats. None of the cats had high fasting triglycerides but after oral fat the triglyceride level in some cats was extremely high. “This study demonstrates that a proportion of Burmese cats in Australia
    have delayed TG clearance compared to other cats. The potential
    repercussions of this observation with reference to lipid aqueous, pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus in Burmese cats are discussed.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18667349

    One of the other thoughts I had was people usually don’t do things like eat a lb of butter at one sitting.. dogs… well yeah they will do that: )

    But what did come to mind was was happens to people when they start a high fat ketogenic diet. and I did find pancreatitis reported as a complication. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0013-9580.2004.10004.x/pdf

    I remember my heart dog.. she was a active vibrant dog with a genetic quirk… she didn’t clear post postprandial fat quickly from her blood. Maybe in your mind that means she was “unhealthy ” One day she ate the cat’s food. It was a recently opened bag and fat sources were fish and pork. She nearly died. You may never be open to accept that dietary fat led to profoundly lipemic blood which then caused her to have necrotizing pancreatitis.. but there is no doubt in my mind what that chain of events was.

  • Shawna

    A change is a comin in the human field and my guess is it won’t be long before it trickles down into the dog world.

    You’ve quoted Dr. Weil before so I’m guessing he is a suitable person to quote? (I’ve already posted research stating high amounts of carbs increase triglycerides) “High triglyceride levels can be genetic, and may be related to obesity or untreated diabetes, but dietary influences are strong. Carbohydrates in the diet are the main factor affecting their levels in the blood, especially quick-digesting (high glycemic load) carbs.” http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400218/triglycerides-too-high.html

    “Gastroenterology Nursing” – is this a peer reviewed paper? Would you accept that source from me if I posted it? (bolded and italicized emphasis mine)

    I thought this was appropriate (in humans)
    “Hypertriglyceridemia is a rare, but well-known cause of acute pancreatitis.”

    To treat pancreatitis and prevent a recurrence “The mainstay of therapy includes dietary restriction of fatty meal and fibric acid derivatives.”

    No mention of fat in the etiology (aka cause) though. “Acute pancreatitis is a common condition with various possible etiologies, gall stones and alcohol being the most common.[1] Metabolic, structural, and iatrogenic causes account for 20 – 25% of the cases.[2] Hyperlipidemia in the form of hypertriglyceridemia or chylomicronemia, although less frequent, is one of the well-accepted underlying causes of acute pancreatitis in 7% of the cases — the most common after gall stones and alcohol.[3] Typically hypertriglyceridemia-induced pancreatitis occurs in a patient with a pre-existing lipid abnormality, along with the presence of a secondary precipitating factor (e.g., poorly controlled diabetes, alcohol or medication). The triglyceride levels of more than 1000 to 2000 mg / dl in patients with type I, III, IV, and V hyperlipoproteinemia (Friedrickson’s classification) is the identifiable risk factor.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263185/

    No mention of high fat diets, however a mention of “poorly controlled diabetes” (which is sugar not fat), alcohol (again sugar (specifically fructose / fatty liver disease) per Dr. David Ludwig) or medication.

    You have apparently not found even one peer reviewed, published research paper linking “dietary fats” as an initial cause of pancreatitis (in otherwise healthy individuals)?

  • aimee

    Shawna,
    I understand what you are saying. However, when I look at the various ways that pancreatitis can be experimentally induced, I don’t understand what your basis is for saying it.

    Experimentally, stimulation with high levels of CCK, perfusion with triglycerides and hypoxia all lead to pancreatitits. All of these mechanisms are independent of the fat being “healthy” or not.

    In reading the literature from those vets recognized in the field of GI I consistently find statements like “In many cases nutrition is a
    common factor causing pancreatitis. The ingestion of high fat diets especially in the obese patient is a well-accepted etiology.”

    http://www.delawarevalleyacademyvm.org/pdfs/aug09/6Pancreatitis.pdf

    The same is found in the human literature.

    “The most common causes of acute pancreatitis ….. In addition,
    significantly elevated serum triglyceride levels can precipitate
    episodes of AP. Genetic defects are associated with severe elevations in
    serum triglyceride levels, whereas poorly controlled diabetes, obesity,
    and high-fat diets can contribute to elevated triglyceride levels
    substantial enough to provoke pancreatitis (secondary
    hypertriglyceridemia).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19357469

    Certainly I do recognize factors other than dietary that lead to pancreatitis but high fat intake is a well accepted risk factor. The type of fat is immaterial. So much so that it wasn’t too hard to find a “holiistic”vet who cautioned against coconut oil as a risk factor for pancreatitis.

    “A little bit goes a long way and if you feed too much, it can predispose your pup to pancreatitis”

    http://drlizotte.com/2014/02/
    .

  • aimee

    Will have to see how it all plays out!

  • Pitlove

    Oh ok interesting. While I was working at Petco we discounted a few large bags of the Vibrant Maturity for 8$ so I thought maybe Purina was getting rid of it to make way for Bright Mind. Must have just not been selling well at Petco. ProPlan was a huge seller though.

  • Shawna

    Healthy fats, in proper rations do not cause inflammation. Coconut oil, and omega 3 fats, as an example, are quite anti-inflammatory.

    Okay, let’s try this one more time. YES, I understand fat needs to be monitored if/when the pancreas is already inflamed and there is a potential for a pancreatic issue. But healthy fats do not CAUSE the INITIAL inflammation that becomes pancreatitis. An infection may cause that initial inflammation, lectins possibly, rancid fats apparently and more I’m sure I don’t know about. BUT healthy fats do not cause the initial onset of inflammation no more so than protein causes the inflammation that damages the kidneys and leads to kidney disease. Yet, just like proteins and kidney disease, there will be a point when fats need to be lowered to compensate for the symptoms associated with the disease. Difference of cause and effect.

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    I was only reporting that a proposed mechanism for satiety in a low carb diet for people may not be functioning in the dog.

    In regards to pancreatitis, I wouldn’t say fat causes pancreatitis so much as it is a risk factor for pancreatitis. I think how the individual handles fat is a key factor here.

    In regards to the NRC information, which I have previously read, I see it as if you have a dog without inherent risk factors that it takes both a very high proportion of calories from fat along with lower proportion from protein to trigger pancreatitis.

    However, NRC doesn’t address clinical conditions and in a different context, that same macronutrient profile isn’t necessary for pancreatitis to be induced.

    . So for a dog like my previous one, who had a congenital liver abnormality which caused her to metabolize fats differently than other dogs, a one time exposure to a diet with a high fat content nearly led to her death from profound narcotizing pancreatitis. A similar exposure in a dog of different genetic makeup likely would have been just fine.

    I don’t understand what you mean by this “lowering fat is the recommendation (due to symptoms however not cause)” as the symptoms are directly related to recurrent inflammation. Fat is lowered to prevent recurrent pancreatic inflammation ie pancreatitis.

    When you wrote ” the part about high fat and weight gain over high carb did not go
    unnoticed. 😉 I would be interested to know what carbs were fed though
    as we know that can make all the difference.

    What type of carb did you have in mind?

  • aimee
  • Pitlove

    Does Vibrant Maturity still exist or did that get reformulated into their Bright Mind line for ProPlan?

  • aimee

    Hi el doctor,

    You’ve truly touched my heart with your kind words.

  • el doctor

    Hi aimee

    I have learned a few things from you, and I thank you for that.

    But the thing I value the most is that you have shown me not with words, but by example, how to exist in an environment where your beliefs elicit rudeness, and hostility :)

  • aimee

    Hi Crazy4Dogs,

    Are you familiar with Y. Pan’s research? I had the privilege to sit next to him at a behavior meeting at which he presented the research some years back. As I remember he was introduced as being double boarded in neurology both as a MD and as a DVM. A scary smart dude who was very personable as well.

    Anyway I’d bet that is the basis for “Brightmind” No doubt there is a heavy dose of marketing going into it as well but I found the original research very interesting when it was presented.

    That research is finding its way into publications on dietary support for the aging brain.

    Another strategy is a diet containing medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are converted to ketone bodies by the liver. Since a decline in cerebral glucose metabolism and reduced energy metabolism are associated with cognitive decline,
    MCT-induced ketone bodies provide an alternate energy source that can be used by
    the brain. When compared to control, the diet (Purina One Vibrant Maturity 7

    Formula; Nestlé Purina PetCare, St Louis, MO, USA) significantly improved perfor-
    mance on several cognitive tasks.
    70
    Supplementation with MCTs also improves
    mitochondrial function, increases polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain, and
    decreases amyloid precursor protein in the parietal cortex of aged dogs.
    71,72
    Supplementation with MCTs is also approved as a medical dietary supplement for AD
    patients. Cognitive diets for cats have not yet been developed.
    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joseph_Araujo/publication/227855691_Cognitive_Dysfunction_Syndrome_A_Disease_of_Canine_and_Feline_Brain_Aging/links/551c0e040cf2fe6cbf762c1f.pdf

    I find this to be “fairy dust” with a basis in empirical research.

  • Shawna

    Purina not Science Diet – I stand corrected. :)

    The Atkins diet (from their website) “appears” to be more about what you should avoid than advocating “high protein”.
    “What you’ll eat

    High fiber vegetables, protein (fish/seafood, poultry, beef, pork, eggs, plant-based), healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter), dairy (cheese, Greek yogurt) and low-glycemic fruits (berries, cherries, melon).

    If carbohydrate tolerance allows: legumes, higher starch vegetables and whole grains.

    Avoid: sugar, refined flour, trans fat.”

    And they say this about fats
    “Why Not Low-Fat Atkins?

    Fat is the mechanism that makes controlled-carbohydrate weight loss work.” http://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/why-not-low-fat-atkins

    On the Ketogenic Diet Resource website they suggest Atkins is a high fat, moderate protein diet “There are many low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet plans from which to choose. (The Atkins diet is just the most famous). They all involve following a higher fat, moderate protein, low carb food plan.” http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/ketogenic-diet-plan.html

    Misconceptions about what a specific diet is and is not may be part of the problem.

    I apologize if my words implied anything more than was my actual intent – higher protein leads to healthy weight loss in dogs.

    I’m guessing you’ve read this but I just stumbled across it and thought it quite interesting. Dietary fat is not an issue in pancreatitis UNLESS dietary protein is restricted.

    “Maximal fat contents of diets for dogs may be reasonably high without adverse effect, although there are some exceptions. Several canned veterinary specialized products in which dietary protein is modestly reduced by fat substitution are among the diets whose amount of energy from fat ranges from 50 to 60 percent ME. Diets with 10 to 24 percent fat have been fed for 2 years without identified adverse effects (Morgan, 1935, 1940), and other studies have reported tolerance for 40 percent fat (Ivy, 1936; Axelrod et al., 1951). Also, diets containing 81 g total fat per 1,000 kcal (calculated from data provided) have been fed to sled dogs without evident problems (Adkins and Kronfeld, 1975; Downey et al., 1980). However, when dogs were fed a low-protein, high-fat diet containing 7g of lean meat and 10g of lard per kilogram of body weight along with 50 g sucrose plus vitamin and mineral supplements, pancreatitis was induced (Lindsay et al., 1948). This diet contained only 6 percent ME protein and 78 percent ME fat (calculated from Lindsay et al., 1948) and facilitates defining a SUL for dietary fat. By comparison, Meyer et al. (1979) fed 3- to 5-month-old puppies diets containing from 8 to 14 g fat-kg BW-1 for 3 months without any negative effect on pancreatic activity. One other precaution is that sedentary adult dogs have a greater tendency to become obese when fed high-fat diets ad libitum compared to high-carbohydrate diets (Romsos et al., 1078), although a slight restriction in food intake will prevent the development of obesity when high-fat diets are fed. Finally, hypercholesterolemia in dogs occurs when animals are maintained on high-fat diets (ca. 60 percent ME) (Kronfeld et al., 1979; McAlister et al., 1996). However, it is unlikely that this particular alteration is associated with any serious metabolic consequence because the excess cholesterol is primarily in the esterified form and associated with high-density lipoprotein fractions (McAlister et al., 1996). Because high-density lipoproteins are considered beneficial relative to coronary artery disease risk, the likelihood of atherogenesis in dogs is minimal at the plasma cholesterol concentration observed. This phenomenon may, in part, explain this species’ generalized resistance to developing coronary artery disease and stroke (Bauer, 1996; Wagner et al., 1999).”

    Nutrient Requirements of Cats and Dogs, National Research Council (copyright 2006). https://books.google.com/books?id=aqeCwxbRWvsC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=dog+dietary+fats+content&source=bl&ots=LBc2rZywtQ&sig=JB_2wZfd1u0tiyZwFSwNPM0GS9M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCWoVChMI5qbfobnvxgIVTZSICh0OgQEH#v=onepage&q=dog%20dietary%20fats%20content&f=false

    PS – we ALL know that if pancreatitis is “associated” or even suspected that lowering fat is the recommendation (due to symptoms however not cause).

    PSS – the part about high fat and weight gain over high carb did not go unnoticed. 😉 I would be interested to know what carbs were fed though as we know that can make all the difference.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Are you talking about Purina “Bright Mind” with their “propietary blend?” LOL!
    Aimee, it looks like Purina is jumping on the “fairy dust” bandwagon in all kinds of aspects.

  • aimee

    Apparently I did completely miss your point. What I thought you were saying was that you don’t need to restrict/monitor calories to achieve weight loss (“It is true that decreasing amount fed will achieve weight loss but it doesn’t have to be that way” ) because if you simply change what you feed (“unless financial issues prevent the use of more species appropriate foods”) your dog would be satiated on “species appropriate foods” and voluntarily decrease their caloric intake (“Studies have shown weight loss with fewer calories consumed (due to
    satiety) in low carb diets for humans. The same has been shown for dogs.” )

    I do not disagree that dogs can lose weight on high protein diets if that was your main point. They can gain weight on high protein diets too!

    For weight loss I’ve concluded that the more calories from protein the better, lower fat foods allow a greater volume to be fed during caloric restriction and possible may result in greater fat loss, and let the carbs fall where they may.

    As I’ve repeatedly said I am carb neutral. I have no agenda except to provide information based on data.

    In regard to triglycerides, in this study, where all the subjects were on low fat diets, the triglyceride levels were well below levels associated with clinical disease in all groups. While there was a small triglyceride increase in the dogs on the higher carbohydrate diet I do not see it as clinically relevant.

    When there is potentially clinically relevant hypertriglyceridemia, levels associated with pancreatitis for example, the treatment is to lower the fat level in the diet, not the carbohydrate level. In fact the carbohydrate may in fact be increased over the previously fed level.

    If I’ve somehow missed published studies in which it was shown that hypertriglycerideima in dogs was corrected by decreasing dietary carbohydrate level please link me to them.

    I realize ketones come from fat breakdown. When I hear high protein/ low carb diet approach in people I think of Atkins which apparently can result in ketosis.. at least initially.

    P.S. It is Purina that is now adding coconut il into its senior dog foods.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Ouch! I know a few people who went through months of trying to cure it. I was lucky it was only 1 and it worked. Supposedly, that’s why DE works because it’s a mechanical action that the parasites can’t build a tolerance to, but who knows!