Did you know 41% of Aussie dogs are overweight or obese?
That’s based on Australian research data which suggests 33.7% of dogs are overweight, and 7.6% obese.
If your dog is carrying a little more weight than they should, you’ll likely turn to a weight loss dog food to fix the problem.
But what’s the real deal with weight loss dog foods?
Which ones are effective, and what else should you consider for the best resolution for your dog?
- What are weight loss dog foods, really?
- Take Note: Why did your dog gain weight in the first place?
- The best dry dog food for weight loss in Australia?
- Vet recommended dog food for weight loss
- So, what really is the best weight management dog food?
- Other weight loss dog foods
- Common questions related to weight loss dog foods
What are weight loss dog foods, really?
Below are marketing statements taken from a number of weight loss dog foods. You may be surprised to learn some may be red herrings when it comes to canine nutrition.
- Lower calories – The word “calories” is often used when we talk about sucky diets in a bid to lose weight.
- High fibre – Something we used to read on most cereal packets. Fibre helps us feel full and regulate bowels.
- Reduced fat content – It’s easy to believe eating fat leads to being fat, but we also know there are different fats and nutritional benefits of healthy fats.
- More protein – Protein can help a dog feel full or satiated. It’s the same for us – if you eat a lot of protein at breakfast, such as eggs, then have you realised you won’t get mid-morning biscuit cravings?
- Added supplements – Some weight loss dog foods contain supplements to help weight loss (such as L-carnitine), and these claims look great on the packaging of a weight loss dog food.
If you know anything about weight loss you’ll see a great deal of truth in the above, but when it comes to your dog how are these translated into an effective weight loss dog food?
Let’s consider some of the consequences of the above in terms of dog food formulas. These claims may sound great in terms of marketing, but what can be the reality behind them?
- Reduced fat ✅ – A dog food is comprised of protein, fat, carbohydrates, moisture, and ash. When you reduce fat content it means one of those other macronutrients will be more significant – but which one? Usually in dog food a reduction in either protein or fat will mean more carbohydrates, or for the sake of simplicity let’s say starchy “fillers”. Most of the time these carbohydrate ingredients aren’t natural for your dog to eat, and may even increase weight gain. You’ll likely put it down to your dog’s metabolism, believing even weight loss dog food hasn’t worked.
- More protein ✅ – It’s easy to understand the importance of protein as an essential macronutrient for health and retaining pristine muscle mass. Weight lifters of the world will unite in their love of protein powders. When it comes to dog foods, however, the type of protein matters – is it lean meat proteins from kangaroo, turkey, chicken, or fish, or kibblefied peas? More protein in a weight loss dog food will often coincide with less animal fats, but still be an excess of carbohydrates. It’s carbohydrates which turn to fats if your dog isn’t overly active.
- Added supplements ✅ – Supplements, like most minor inclusions in a dog food, offer the manufacturer excellent claims to add to the packaging. L-Carnitine is a well known fat-burner, but would you personally take such a supplement alongside a diet of burgers and French fries? It’s easy for us to get sucked in by such claims, but unless the main ingredients in a weight loss dog food work in collaboration, your dog will likely remain overweight.
As well as the above, keep in mind this following point:
Fat may not be the reason your dog is fat. Your dog will digest animal fats very effectively, as a great source of energy, healthy skin and coat, and will also help them better absorb nutrients.David D’Angelo, Pet Nutritionist (Australia).
Pet foods can contain expensive ingredients (such as meat and meat fats), or cheaper ingredients (such as starches and legumes). If a pet food manufacturer can reduce expensive ingredients AND market the dog food for a specific health condition, then they’ll do just that. After all, they can charge a premium price for a dog food with cheaper ingredients. It’s a win-win (for them at least!)
Take Note: Why did your dog gain weight in the first place?
Before choosing a weight loss dog food, consider why he gained weight in the first place. This will give you your most important information as it helps you understand the real cause of the problem.
Perhaps it’s related to age, breed, or not enough exercise, but more often than not it’s related to their diet. Reading the ingredients of your previous dog food is an essential first step.
It’s okay if you don’t know much about dog food or canine nutrition – most of us trust what our breeder, vet, or friends recommended. Most dog foods sold in Australia are reviewed on this website, so that can be a good starting point.
You should consider cereals, cereal by-products, or wheat on the ingredients list a possible red flag. Ironically these are found in many weight loss dog foods, but it doesn’t take much to realise these aren’t normal foods for a dog to eat.
Low protein (20% or lower), low fat (10% or lower), can mean high carbohydrates from starch ingredients – this can cause weight gain as these ingredients may be hard for your dog to digest. A good regular dog food may have 30%+ protein, ideally from animal sources, and often 20%+ fat. This means lower carbs, which you will likely already know is good for weight loss.
One final important consideration is the current health of your dog, and if you have any concerns whatsoever you should speak with your veterinarian. You should take all information on board.
The best dry dog food for weight loss in Australia?
Let’s start with specific weight loss dog foods I would recommend, but you may find any of the best rated dog foods or those on the affordable dog food list will help. Most of the dog foods on those lists are high protein, low carb, and more appropriate for the nutritional needs of your dog.
The weight loss dog foods listed below are specifically labelled as such, and although may be more expensive than other options, should show a positive improvement in your dog over the coming weeks.
Raw, fresh, BARF, air and freeze-dried dog foods are also worth considering, but may cost you even more than the below recommendations.
Vets All Natural Complete Mix Weight Loss
I’m starting with a curve ball here, but Vets All Natural Complete Mix is a great choice for weight loss. It takes a little more effort on your part, but the idea behind this dried mix is to balance out the nutrient requirements alongside fresh meat.
You can combine this mix with a lean meat protein – kangaroo, turkey, chicken, or fish – without having to worry too much about your dog missing vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. Simply mix the meat with the dried mix and feed it to your dog.
If you find this expensive, perhaps feed your usual dog food in the morning (as long as you’re happy with the ingredients), and feed Vets All Natural with fresh meat in the evening.
You will find a bag will last longer than you think being more a supplemental mix than a complete meal.
Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight
You don’t find me recommending Hill’s products often, but unlike Prescription Diet r/d the Science Diet spinoff has better ingredients for a dry food.
Chicken is listed first in the ingredients, but realistically we also have barley, brown rice, pea fibre, corn gluten meal, and a more beneficial addition of chicken meal. Although not as much meat as you would think, at least barley and brown rice are better grains.
If you have your heart set on a vet-endorsed brand, or have decided to trust your vet’s recommendation, then Science Diet Perfect Weight might be your best bet. Check out the cans for metabolic and light formula as well, as these tend to be more meat-focused.
Prime100 SPD ZeroG Kangaroo, Lentil, and Turmeric Senior Adult & Weight Management
For a kibble you may find this Australian brand of weight loss dog food a little pricey, but compared to other brands the ingredients are more beneficial for your dog.
The Kangaroo, Lentil, and Turmeric Weight Management formula has kangaroo as the main ingredient, which is considered the best lean red meat (and locally sourced as well).
However, the following ingredients can also be considered significant, which are lentils, sweet potato, chick peas, tapioca starch, and field peas.
With such a range of non-meat ingredients you have to ask yourself how much (or how little) kangaroo is included. That said, the ingredients as a whole feel better than Hill’s Science Diet r/d above.
Related: Recommendations for kangaroo dog foods (any of which may help with weight loss!)
Vet recommended dog food for weight loss
If your vet has diagnosed your dog as being overweight, then did they ask what you had been feeding them?
Did they ask you to consider the ingredients and whether they were a possible cause of the weight gain?
My guess is not.
However, they probably recommended an expensive dog food such as Hill’s Prescription Diet Weight Loss r/d or Royal Canin Satiety Weight Management combined with a little more exercise and less treats.
If that were the case, did they inform you the Hill’s formula has corn and corn gluten meal as main ingredients, with powdered cellulose and soybeans?
Did they inform you the main ingredient in the Royal Canin formula is vegetable fibres? Backed up with inclusions such as wheat gluten, tapioca, maize gluten, more maize, and more wheat?
Doesn’t sound like a diet for dogs to me, does it to you?
You have to ask yourself if they’re the ingredients you want to pay through the nose for to feed your dog, whether they help weight loss or not.
So, what really is the best weight management dog food?
If I were you, the first thing I would do is look at the food you’re currently feeding your dog.
Is it high in carbohydrates?
Is it made from lots of grains, potatoes, tapioca, or other starchy ingredients?
If so, start thinking about a different diet. The best recommended dog foods may be a good place to start. They may seem like higher fat and won’t have “weight management” plastered on the packaging, but should give your dog a more appropriate diet.
Consider raw, fresh, BARF, or rolls (as long as they’re meat-based), or simply a better dry dog food.
That’s just the start.
Setting your alarm early and taking your dog for longer morning walks is very rewarding. Especially if you love morning coffee.
Other weight loss dog foods
Below I will summarise other popular weight loss dog foods available in Australia, with key points to consider:
- Hill’s Prescription Diet Weight Loss r/d – Mentioned earlier, this expensive vet-endorsed weight loss dog food has questionable ingredients for an animal I consider a meat-eater.
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Satiety Support – Also mentioned earlier, this is the other weight loss option commonly recommended by veterinarians, also with ingredients which you may find odd for a canine.
- Ivory Coat Reduced Fat – I really wish I could recommended this brand. I used to based on the ingredients, but consumer feedback is often concerning – this suggests Ivory Coat isn’t as good quality as we would hope.
- Advance Weight Control All Breed – The main ingredients are rice, chicken meal, and sorghum in that order, which means there is more rice than chicken, and likely chicken will be less than one third of that mix. Beneficial inclusions are green lipped mussels and l-carnitine, but is it worth it? Advance is the cheaper offering to Royal Canin, both being Mars Petcare products.
- Eukanuba Adult Fit Body Weight Control – One step down from Advance above, Eukanuba is yet another Mars Petcare brand catering for a tighter budget. For this weight loss dog food we find the main ingredient as maize, and although poultry protein is listed 2nd, it’s also stacked with wheat, barley, and more maize (flour).
- Nutro Lite and Weight Management – Mars Petcare yet again, controlling the market, the Lamb & Rice Weight Management formula is more rice and then lamb when you look at the ingredients. The real question is how much more rice than meat?
- Pro Plan Adult Weight Management – This is one of those “meat first” formulas, which are great at making you believe this dog food is mostly meat. Consider this a trick, as the next four ingredients are brewers rice, whole grain wheat, oats, and barley, which means you’ll be feeding your overweight carnivorous pet a stack of grains – possibly the reason they became overweight in the first place. Oh, and yes, I didn’t mention Mars Petcare for this one. Pro Plan is a Nestle brand.
- Supercoat Healthy Weight – Another Nestle brand, Supercoat is a big hit with Australian dog owners who believe other dog foods are expensive. You may find Supercoat affordable, but it makes more sense when you realise how much of this product, labelled “healthy”, is cereal and plant by-products, wheat, and corn and/or sorghum and/or barley. Supercoat or Supercheap ingredients?
- Pedigree Healthy Weight – We’re back to Mars Petcare products once again. Pedigree is a household name and has been since my childhood many decades ago. I wouldn’t recommend a dog food with a main ingredient of wholegrain cereals for any dog, even less so an overweight dog.
What weight loss dog food do you feed or recommend?
Common questions related to weight loss dog foods
Every dog and situation is different, so you may have all manner of questions on how to effectively help them lose weight. Diet is only one part of the question.
Hopefully all other questions you may have are covered below. If not, add a comment below and I’ll do my best to offer genuine advice.
How much weight should a dog lose a day?
This is relative to how overweight they are, but a good rule of thumb is 1-2% of their body weight per week. Let’s say your overweight Labrador weighs 45kg. That would mean losing 450g to 900g in a week can be considered safe.
What meats will help a dog lose weight?
Weight loss dog foods favour lean meats, particularly turkey, chicken, or fish. In Australia, kangaroo can be considered an excellent lean red meat, and a good choice for weight loss. When choosing a commercial dog food for weight loss make sure meat is a main ingredient. Ideally the guaranteed analysis will have high protein (30%+) and moderate fat (10%~18%) – this will suggest lower carbohydrates.
Will a hypoallergenic or limited ingredient dog food help with weight loss?
A hypoallergenic or limited ingredient dog food may help your dog lose weight. The important consideration here is your dog’s previous diet, and whether it contained inappropriate ingredients which led to weight gain. If this is the case, a hypoallergenic or limited ingredient dog food would likely have better ingredients, without the common ingredients associated with weight gain in dogs.
Should you be concerned about fat content in a dog food?
Generally a dog will gain weight due to lack of exercise, age, or an inappropriate diet. Given dogs effectively digest animal fats, you should consider carbohydrate or starch ingredients more a concern as these are less natural for a dog to consume in their diet. Opt for a food which is lower in carbohydrates rather than lower in fat.
What treats can you give a dog who needs to lose weight?
High protein meat-based treats should be fine to feed an overweight dog. A good quality meat-based treat will offer them nutrition as well as work well coinciding with a weight loss diet. Avoid treats made from grains or starches, especially those containing sugars and other additives.
Do green beans help a dog lose weight?
The fibre in green beans should help your dog feel full, which is why many people feed this legume as part of a weight loss diet. They are also a source of vitamins and minerals, including protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K.
How can you combine dry dog food with other foods to help a dog lose weight?
Dogs are generally fed one brand of dog food, but that doesn’t mean this is the best option for a dog. Variety can be an effective method of broadening nutrition and often keeping costs down. To help your dog lose weight you can feed their regular dog food in the morning, and a combination of foods in the evening. This can be a mix of some of their regular food, green beans, fresh lean meat, or an egg.
Why is low carb dog food better for weight loss?
It’s a common misconception the fat content in a dog’s diet will lead to weight gain. Although excessive fat in the diet can be problematic, a real concern is high carbohydrates. The nature of dry dog foods as a consumer product has led to reduced protein, reduced fat, and higher carbohydrate ingredients. These are often less natural for a dog to eat. Grains (particularly wheat, cereal, or grain by-products), or excessive starch ingredients (such as potato) can mean your dog is consuming a far higher percentage of carbohydrates than you may think. An active dog may burn off enough carbohydrates to retain a normal build, which is why many working dog foods opt for these cheaper ingredients, but a less active dog can gain weight.
Is grain free dog food better for weight loss?
The reason grain free dog foods can be better for weight loss is because on average they contain better ingredients than grain-based dog foods. The cost of grain free dog foods is also, on average, more per kilo. However, the real question is regarding meat and fat content, as it is possible for either a good grain-based dog food or a grain free dog food to have a suitable meat and animal fat content.
Is canned or wet food better for weight loss?
It depends on the quality of the brand, but you will often find the wet equivalent of a dry dog food to contain better ingredients. Kibble is often far less expensive than wet or canned foods, which often means the ingredients aren’t as good.
What do you feed a dog to support joints and help with weight loss?
Choosing a high quality dog food will often help your dog retain a healthy weight as well as support their joints. A decent dog food should have a focus on quality meat and animal fat ingredients, with less carbohydrates, and contain omega fatty acids or healthy oils to support joints. Another option which will particularly help (even if you are on a budget) is to supplement your dog’s diet with green lipped mussels, whole sardines, or supplements including glucosamine and chondroitin, cartilage, or abalone.