Best Diet Dog Foods

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Diet dog foods are designed to provide your pet with all the nutrients he needs to be healthy while cutting back on calories. These are the brands that offer the best quality to price ratio–both your pooch and your wallet will love these.

Pet obesity is becoming a worrying trend that seems to be on a constant rise–and it’s becoming a serious issue both for pets and their owners. There are all those choices when it comes to dog food, from dry and wet to grain-free and organic, but it appears that keeping your four-legged companion fit and healthy has never been more difficult. The combination of inadequate diet and lack of exercise is to blame why our dogs (and kitties!) are getting chunkier and chunkier with each year. Unfortunately, the additional weight can cause a range of issues, from a lowered quality of life to serious health problems. Overweight dogs can’t enjoy playtime and activity as their leaner furry friends and if their chubbiness persists or turns into a few more pounds they need to shed, they can be at risk for developing different illnesses, from diabetes to arthritis.

The first step you have to take if your pet has to lose weight is changing their diet. Even if you are not aware of it, it’s highly likely that the food that you pour in their bowl every day is what’s causing obesity issues for your dog. A lot of dry and wet dog foods are full of fillers and, essentially, harmful ingredients that leave your pet lacking essential nutrients but overfilled with fattening empty calories. As a result, your dog is feeling hungrier, their immune system is getting weaker and weaker, and they are just getting bigger–even when you rely on longer walks or hours of playing fetch to help shed that fluff. The solution for this common problem is skipping on cheap, generic kibble and opting for food tailored to dogs that have to lose weight–without compromising on their nutritive requirements at the same time.

Diet dog foods are formulated to meet all of your pet’s dietary needs without causing weight gain. The idea is to focus only on the good stuff and cut back all the fillers and fattening ingredients that could tip the scales in obesity’s favor. Of course, this also means that there are literally hundreds of different types and formulas of diet dog foods out there, customized to fit different needs and requirements. To make sure you’ll find what you need in no time, we’ve rounded up the best diet dog foods on the market–and we’ve included something for every age, taste, and budget. Read on to learn more about what kind of diet food is a good choice for your pet!

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Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care Dog Food

A healthy gut means a healthy pup – but it can also mean a slimmer one, too. Dog food rich in fibers are a great way to help your pet lose and maintain a healthy weight, while also promoting optimal digestion. Fiber makes food more satiating without adding calories, so your pet will feel fuller for a longer time. This is one of the reasons why Hill’s® Prescription Diet® Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care Dog Food is such a fantastic option for dogs that need help reaching and keeping optimal weight. The unique formula utilizes Hill’s ActivBiome Technology which is a proprietary blend of synergistic prebiotic fibers meant to activate the beneficial bacteria in your pet’s gut and improve their microbiome health. The active fibers in the formula won’t just make your pet feel fuller, but they’ll also encourage the production of postbiotics, promoting better digestion and supporting their immune system in the process.

This way, you can rest assured that while your pooch loses weight, they will not have an upset stomach or changes in the stool such as constipation or diarrhea. Their gut will be thriving while they’re shedding the fluff thanks to this unique diet dog food formulated by veterinarians and nutritionists.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food Perfect Weight

Designed for small dogs that need to lose weight, this veterinarian-formulated kibble delivers tangible results in as little as 10 weeks. With chicken meat as its main ingredient, this formula is lean and flavorful at the same time and will keep your pooch slender without having them compromise on the taste of their food. At the same time, this dry food is low on fat, so it promotes weight loss in a healthy and gradual way. The size of the kibble is also adjusted to the needs of small dogs that prefer tiny nuggets–have in mind that this diet food is meant for dogs weighing up to 30 pounds.

Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

The formula of this dog food is truly unique on the market, as it combines high protein, grain-free dry dog food with freeze-dried bites of raw chicken. Needless to say, dogs love the taste and the natural nutrients in this weight management kibble are great for their overall health! To ensure your pet will have optimal weight while eating this kibble, the formula cuts out all of the fillers such as corn, soy, potato, wheat, and others and adds fat-burning L-Carnitine to encourage healthy weight loss. Instinct Raw Boost is formulated for adult dogs of all sizes.

Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

This kibble brand doesn’t beat around the bush: it’s designed for fat dogs that have to lose weight fast- but in a way that won’t endanger their health. As one of the foods with the lowest calorie count on the market, Natural Balance Fat Dogs is formulated to promote weight loss in adult dogs of all sizes. As long as they have some fluff to shed, they’ll be able to do it with this diet food! Made with chicken and salmon meal, it does leave something to be desired in terms of protein quality, but having in mind its effectiveness and budget-friendly price, it’s clear to see why this diet food is so popular with pawrents.

Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Healthy Weight Formula Adult Dog Food

This healthy weight formula by Purina is unique in the sense that it’s available both in the form of dry food and wet food so you can choose (or mix!) to make sure your pet’s preferences are met without compromising on the effectiveness of their diet food. The formula contains 25 percent less fat and 15 percent fewer calories for guaranteed results! The combo of tender morsels and crunchy kibble is also quite delicious to pooches so they won’t be able to tell that their new chow is diet-friendly. Available in two flavors–chicken and lamb and rice–this weight management food is suitable for dogs of all breeds.

Nutro Ultra Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutrient-rich, healthy, but designed to help your pet shed extra fluff, this diet dog food combines three protein sources (chicken, salmon, and lamb) with whole grains, fruits, and veggies for optimal results. The ingredient list includes no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives but uses only high-quality, non-GMO ingredients that are good for your furball. This particular Nutro Ultra formula is meant for toy and small breeds, but the brand produces other weight management formulas to suit the needs of medium and large breed dogs.

Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Shredded Blend Weight Management Formula

With real chicken as the first ingredient and yummy shredded pieces to entice your doggo to switch to his new diet food, Purina Pro Plan Savor is a good choice for picky dogs. Loaded with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, this formula aims to support your dog’s immune system while they are working towards losing excess weight, which their low-fat dry food also enables. The key is in the choice of lean meat as the primary protein and high levels of natural prebiotic fiber. With an adjustment in serving size, this diet dog food will suit every pooch!

Wellness Complete Health Healthy Weight

The complete formula of this weight management dog food is meant not just to promote weight loss but to keep your dog’s skin and coat in top shape with an Omega-3 boost to the ingredient list, as well as promote better digestion with fiber and probiotics. As a result, your dog will be in optimal form and have optimal weight both! This diet food is designed for the needs of adult small breed dogs and it’s made with brown rice and deboned turkey.

Blue Buffalo Blue Life Protection Formula Adult Healthy Weight

The combination of whole grains, garden veggies and fruit with real, deboned chicken as the main protein source ensures that your pet gets all of the essential nutrients while he’s losing weight. Blue Buffalo’s diet dog food cuts back on the fillers and the fat to ensure its low-calorie value but doesn’t compromise on wholesome nutrients your dog needs to thrive. Made for adult dogs of all shapes and sizes, this kibble formula will keep your pooch feeling full and help them maintain a healthy weight at the same time.

Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food Recipes

If you have a pet that has food sensitivities or allergies to poultry but still need them to be on a weight-management diet, this formula is a great solution. Made with deboned beef and sweet potato, it doesn’t rely on lean meat to shred its caloric value: it cuts out fat, fillers, and grains that would promote weight gain instead. Suitable for every pooch from extra small to extra large, Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight is enriched with nutrients for joint and bone health, as well as probiotics for better digestion.

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Reduced Fat Dry Dog Food

Thanks to its reduced fat content and elimination of grains from the formula, Wellness CORE diet food can help promote healthy weight loss in overweight dogs. This kibble is fortified with antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to boost your pet’s immune system and encourage better digestion at the same time–as long as your pooch likes the turkey flavor, this could be a great formula for their weight loss needs, whether they are small or large.

Pets and obesity: should your dog be on a diet?

It can be difficult to realize that your pet’s extra fluffiness is not just cute chubbiness- but a health-endangering condition. A few pounds up or down might not seem like a big deal for you, but for your dog’s body, it can make a significant difference. Depending on their size and built, as little as a pound or two can push them over from a healthy weight limit to the overweight category. Sadly, becoming overweight is not difficult for a dog–a lack of exercise, a few table scraps here and there, one too many treats, or a diet based on filler-rich kibble can all influence how fast and how much weight your pet gains. Here are some of the easiest way to determine if your pet needs to lose weight- and that his extra pounds are not just “winter fluff”:

The “touch test”

Feel your pet’s ribs and along the spine–can you feel the bones just barely (if at all) or can you clearly tell when you lightly press? In case the first is true, it’s highly likely that the reason why it’s difficult to feel the ribs and the backbone is because they are buried under fat- and it’s something that will have to change. A dog that has a healthy weight won’t have his backbone or ribs protruding or easily visible, but you should be able to feel them with a light touch.

Belly fat

It’s the most tell-tale sign of them all–does your pet resemble a potbelly pig more than he does a dog? All jokes aside, fat in the abdomen region is one of the easiest ways to know if your pet is obese. From the sides, a dog’s silhouette should have a nice inward curve between the chest and the leg, more or less deep depending on the breed’s build. However, a sagging, rounded belly that protrudes is definitely not in the cards for any breed or breed mix.

Hips don’t lie

The last step of the evaluation should be to get a bird’s eye view of your pet. Have them standing and take a look at their body from above to see if they have the necessary curves or if their physique resembles a rectangle. A dog with a healthy weight will have a “waist” between the end of his ribcage and hips–not too deep unless it’s a breed standard, but nevertheless easily visible from above. If you can’t tell the difference between your pet’s hips, chest, and abdomen, it’s because they are overweight.

What to look for in diet dog foods

The main feature of every diet dog food is that it should be lead to a gradual weight loss or help your pet maintain his slender figure. However, that’s just one factor–there are plenty of ways to achieve this and not all of them will be as effective or as healthy for your dog’s unique needs. The goal is to find a diet dog food that your pet will enjoy eating and that’s still nutritionally complete and healthy despite being suitable for a weight-loss regime. Here are some of the more important features to consider before switching your dog to a new diet food:

Caloric value

The main reason why your pooch is getting onto a weight-management diet is to lose weight, so it’s crucial that the food you picked out is lower in calories than the food they used to eat. The caloric value can vary greatly from brand to brand- it can be as much as double the number of calories. So before you pour the kibble in the bowl, be sure to read the label thoroughly!


A young dog in his prime and a senior in his golden years don’t have the same nutritional needs, and it’s important that the diet dog food is formulated to meet those specific demands. If you have an elderly dog that would benefit from shedding a few pounds, make sure you get them a senior diet dog food–in other cases, an adult formula is a better match. It’s important to note, though, that puppies shouldn’t be on low-calorie diets as they are still developing and need “fuel” for the growth stage of their lives.

Size or breed of your dog

The same way age should be a factor in your choice of diet dog foods, size or breed of your pet should also be taken into account. After all, what’s low calorie and slimming for a large working dog breed is certainly going to be way too much for a petite toy Poodle, so be cautious when getting generic, one-size-fits-all diet dog foods: always compare the amount of calories per cup with the kibble you previously gave to your pet to ensure the new chow is really low-cal for your pet.

Ingredient list

Diet dog foods come in all flavors and formulas: grain-free, low-fat, exotic protein, etc. The key is finding a compromise between something your pooch likes to eat and what’s good for them. Steer clear from diet dog foods that are loaded with artificial colors, preservatives, and additives, as well as those that don’t have real meat in their formula. If the main protein source is labeled as poultry (instead of specific bird such as duck or chicken), meat meal or any other type of “mystery meat” it’s a good indicator that the kibble is not high-quality. Similarly, if you have a dog with food allergies or sensitivities, go for the hypoallergenic versions of diet dog foods.

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Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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