Keeping your dog at a healthy weight requires a delicate balance of diet and exercise. It’s easy for even the most careful dog owners to get it wrong and end up with an overweight pooch. It can be tough, however, to feed your four-legged friend smaller portions to help him lose weight. Not only do you feel like you’re depriving him, but he might end up feeling hungry. Instead, try feeding him a diet dog food. These foods are lower in fat and calories than regular dog foods, which helps your dog slim down and/or maintain a healthy weight without resorting to meager portions.
If you’re looking for diet food options for your cat, check out our list of the best diet cat foods. And if you are interested in seeing some other food or treat options for your pets, make sure to check out our pet food and treats articles.
We reviewed dozens of diet dog foods to identify the best of the best. We focused on a range of important features such as ingredient quality, calorie content, value for money, and customer reviews.
When searching for the best diet dog food out there, Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Reduced Fat Formula was the obvious choice for our top pick. With 25% less fat than the original formula, it’s great for dogs that need to lose weight or are starting to gain weight on their regular diet. The protein-rich formula helps keep your dog’s tummy feeling full for longer.
The 5 Top-Rated Diet Dog Foods
|Our Vet’s Top Pick||Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Reduced Fat Formula||4.4|
|Runner Up||Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice||4.3|
|Best Budget Buy||Diamond Naturals LIGHT Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food||3.9|
|Best Dry Diet Dog Food||Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food||4.4|
|Best Wet Diet Dog Food||Avoderm Natural Weight Support Wet Dog Food||4.5|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Vet’s Top Pick: Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Reduced Fat Formula
Want a natural, high-quality dog food that will help keep Fido’s weight in check? Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Reduced Fat Formula is our top choice! With less fat and fewer calories than the standard formula, this food is an excellent tool for canine weight loss.
The grain-free formula is ideal for dogs with grain allergies and intolerances. Even if your dog can tolerate grains with no problem, their absence helps keep the calories lower. With a combination of turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal, this food has plenty of protein, which will aid in keeping your dog satiated, so she won’t be sniffing around for a second breakfast an hour after polishing off the first.
We love the all-natural formula that’s free from all artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives. In addition to the mixture of meats, vegetables, and fruits, Wellness Core® Reduced Fat Formula contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to help keep your dog healthy. With well over 3,000 reviews, most of which are positive, we’re convinced that this food suits the vast majority of dogs.
Costing close to $70 for a 26-pound bag, this certainly isn’t the cheapest dog food on the market, but it’s worth the cost, if you have the budget for it.
Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Reduced Fat Formula Key Features:
- Grain free
- All-natural formula
- 25% less fat than standard recipe
- Protein-rich ingredients
Our Runner Up Pick: Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice
If you’re looking for a quality diet dog food that isn’t quite as hard on the wallet as our top pick, Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice is an excellent choice. At around $50 for a 30-pound bag, it works out reasonably affordable and comes highly recommended. This healthy-weight chicken and brown rice formula has more than 4,500 (predominantly positive) reviews and is suitable for all adult dogs.
With a reduced calories-from-fat ratio, this diet dog food can aid in maintaining the healthy weight of a dog who’s just starting to gain some pounds, or help with weight loss as part of a larger diet and exercise plan. Most buyers say their dogs find it extremely palatable, although every dog has his own individual preferences, so your mileage may vary.
Fresh deboned chicken is the first ingredient in this protein-rich food, followed by a mixture of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, all of which provide nutritional value. A unique addition is Blue’s patented LifeSource Bits®, which contains a healthy blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support immune system health and a proper oxidative balance. You can rest assured that you’ll find no artificial flavors or preservatives in this food, nor will you find any meat by-products, corn, wheat, or soy.
Blue Buffalo BLUE Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice Key Features:
- LifeSource Bits®
- Reduced calories-from-fat
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Complete, balanced formula
Best Budget Pick: Diamond Naturals LIGHT Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
With a price tag of roughly $35 for a 30-pound bag, Diamond Naturals LIGHT Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food is the clear choice for pet parents on a budget. Although it doesn’t quite match up with our top pick or runner-up in terms of ingredient quality, it isn’t far behind. It’s completely free from artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives, and only contains natural ingredients.
While we’ve found some mixed reviews about how palatable this dog food is, most buyers’ canine companions showed no signs that they didn’t like the taste. No dog food is 100% appealing to all dogs, so this doesn’t concern us, but you may prefer to buy a smaller bag at first, just in case.
The number one ingredient in this diet dog food is pasture-raised lamb protein, in addition to a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For optimum nutrition, it also contains a range of added vitamins and minerals, plus a proprietary probiotic formula to aid with digestion.
What’s more, if you prefer to buy local, Diamond Naturals is made in the USA by a family-owned and operated business.
Diamond Naturals LIGHT Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food Key Features:
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Suitable for overweight and less active dogs
- No fillers
- Contains antioxidants
Best Dry Diet Dog Food: Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food
If your four-legged friend is well in need of a diet, look no further than Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food. Unlike some diet dog foods that are formulated for maintenance or weight loss, this low calorie option puts weight loss to the forefront, which is perfect if your dog is more than a little overweight.
With its specially designed balance of protein and fiber, this food helps keep your pup feeling full between meals, despite its low calorie formula. The high-quality protein also aids your dog in retaining muscle mass as she loses weight, although you’ll need to make sure she’s getting plenty of exercise.
Protein comes from a mixture of chicken meal, salmon meal, garbanzo beans, and more, while other notable ingredients include pea fiber, oats, barley, and egg. You’ll also find a range of added vitamins and minerals, plus omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, all of which promote optimum health in your canine companion.
At around $55 for a 28-pound bag, Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food is up there on the higher end of the price spectrum, but as it’s one of the lowest calorie dog foods available, it’s an excellent investment if you need to get your dog’s weight down significantly. You can also buy 5-pound and 15-pound bags, but they do end up costing more pound for pound.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dry Dog Food Key Features:
- Balance of protein and fiber keeps dogs feeling full
- Low calorie formula
- Made in the USA
- High in fiber for healthier stools
Best Wet Diet Dog Food: Avoderm Natural Weight Support Wet Dog Food
If you’re looking for a diet wet food for your pooch, our favorite canned option is Avoderm Natural Weight Support Wet Dog Food. With all-natural ingredients that provide complete and balanced nutrition while supporting weight loss or maintenance, this is an excellent choice for most adult dogs. It’s completely free of by-products, artificial flavors, and colors, and doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, soy, or carrageenan. Instead, you’ll find plenty of vitamins and minerals, in addition to protein from chicken and omega fatty acids from its star ingredient, avocados.
These powerful, natural ingredients combine to not only promote weight management, but also enhance your dog’s skin and coat health. Buyers love how high quality the ingredients in this wet food are, and that it helped their pooches to slim down.
Avoderm Natural Weight Support Wet Dog Food costs around $25 for a pack of 12 cans of 13 ounces each. While this is more costly than most dry food, it’s hard to compare wet and dry foods pound for pound, as the serving sizes aren’t the same. That said, wet food does tend to cost a little more than dry food, but is generally more palatable.
Avoderm Natural Weight Support Wet Dog Food Key Features:
- Delicious chicken and rice recipe
- Promotes skin and coat health
- Made in the USA
- High-quality proteins and omega fatty acids
Who Should Buy Diet Dog Foods?
If you’re considering switching to diet dog food, you might be wondering who needs it. Not all dogs need a diet dog food, but with over 50% of American canines being overweight, many do. If you know your dog is overweight and needs to loose a few pounds, then a diet dog food is an obvious choice.
However, even dogs who aren’t yet overweight but have started to gain a little may do better on a low calorie or low fat food (in addition to more exercise, where possible) to nip things in the bud and help them maintain a healthy weight.
Some senior dogs should eat diet dog foods, as canines tend to gain a little weight as they get older, especially as they start to slow down. Dogs who are less active than usual due to an illness or injury may also benefit from a diet food to help keep their weight from creeping up while they recover.
Important Features to Consider
When selecting a diet dog food, you should look at a number of factors. Here’s what to consider when selecting a diet dog food:
- Calorie content. Diet dog foods can contain anywhere between 250 and 400 calories per cup. Lower calorie options are better for less active dogs or those who have a lot to lose, whereas slightly higher calorie options are preferable for more active dogs who need to maintain their weight or just a little bit of weight to lose.
- Ingredient quality. The quality of the ingredients shines a light on the quality of the food as a whole. Look for diet dog foods that contain named meats and meat meals (rather than unnamed “mystery meats”), whole grains or other healthy sources of carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals.
- Type of dog. While most adult dogs will thrive on a general adult formula, some especially small or large pooches may do better on a specific small breed or large breed formula.
- Age of dog. You can find senior diet dog foods that are specifically designed with the needs of older dogs in mind. Otherwise, stick to a regular adult formula. Note that puppies shouldn’t go on low fat or low calorie diets as they need plenty of calories and nutrients as they’re growing. If you think your puppy is overweight, consult your vet. They may need to eat a little less, but they might just be due for a growth spurt.
- Artificial additives. We’d generally recommend avoiding foods that contain artificial additives, such as flavorings and preservatives. Not only are they unnecessary in a quality dog food, some of them can be harmful to your pet’s health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal diet for a dog?
People have been arguing for decades about what the ideal diet for a dog is. Some people claim that raw meat is the only biologically appropriate diet for a canine, some argue that dogs are omnivores and can eat anything as long as it contains all the correct nutrients, and others state that grain free food is the way to go.
The fact is, there’s no single ideal food for dogs. Foods that most dogs thrive on can make a handful of dogs sick, and vice-versa. All you can do is look for a wholesome dog food with natural ingredients and hope for the best. It can sometimes take a bit of trial and error to find the right food for your dog.
How do I get my dog to lose weight?
Getting your dog to lose weight isn’t rocket science. Barring any additional medical needs, all your dog requires to lose weight is fewer calories and more exercise. Take him on longer walks and feed him a diet dog food and he’ll soon start to shift some pounds.
How much does my dog need to eat?
The amount your dog needs to eat will vary depending on the size and weight of your dog, how active she is, the amount of calories in her food, and whether she needs to lose weight or maintain her weight. Check the packaging on your chosen dog food, as it will give you feeding guidelines that tell you how much to feed your dog depending on her size. However, these are guidelines only, so you should monitor your dog’s weight over a few weeks after switching foods. You may find you need to feed slightly less or slightly more than the amount in the guidelines.
What should be in a dog’s diet?
Dogs are omnivores, which means they can thrive on both meat and plant-based foods, but finding the right balance of nutrients isn’t easy. Unless you happen to be an expert in canine nutrition, the best way to make sure your four-legged friend has a balanced diet is to feed him a nutritionally complete commercial dog food. This could be a dry food, a wet food, or a combination of the two.
If you’re trying to keep your dog’s weight down, treats should be kept to the absolute minimum. You can buy low calorie commercial dog treats, or you can try feeding your pup some healthy human foods, such as raw carrots or small pieces of apple. However, be wary because some “people foods” are dangerous for dogs (for instance, grapes and raisins can be fatally toxic for dogs), so never feed your dog something without first checking it’s safe for him to eat.