- How Can We Help?
- Why Would You Choose to Feed Your Dog a High Calorie Dog Food?
- Why Does a Dog’s Calorie Requirements Differ with Age?
- Why Should You Choose High-Calorie Dog Food, Rather Than Just Give Your Dog an Increased Amount of Low-Calorie Food Per Day?
- The Top 5 Best High Calorie Dog Foods
- 1. Royal Canin – Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food – Chicken Flavor
- 2. Purina – Pro Plan Complete Essentials – High Protein, Digestive Health Dry Dog Food – Beef and Rice Flavor
- 3. CRAVE – High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food – Lamb and Venison Flavor
- 4. Hill’s Science Diet – Large Breed Scientifically Formulated Dry Dog Food – Lamb and Brown Rice Formula
- 5. Adirondack – Protein Everyday Dog Food Recipe for Active Adult Dogs – Chicken and Pork Formula
- Final Words
How Can We Help?
If you have questions about finding the right type of food for your furry friend, we are here to help you understand your options. Not only will we highlight some of the best high calorie dog food brands, we will explain everything you need to know about choosing the right type of food to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Even a dog treat can contain some animal protein and extra calories to help your dog’s diet.
Ensuring that your dog is fed a healthy diet that has the right nutrients and an appropriate volume of calories is one of the most important things you can do for his or her long-term health. By reading through our helpful guide, you will learn everything you need to know about high calorie food for dogs!
Why Would You Choose to Feed Your Dog a High Calorie Dog Food?
As mentioned above, each dog will have its own unique calorie requirements. While you should always speak with a veterinarian if you have any specific questions about your dog’s dietary requirements, there are a few general rules when it comes to choosing an appropriate diet for your dog.
The Dog’s Life Stage:
One of the most important pieces of advice you can follow when choosing the right type of dog food for your canine companion is to take the dog’s current life stage into consideration. This is for the simple fact that dogs have specific nutritional and caloric requirements as they age. For example, puppies and young dogs that are still growing need far more calories, fat, and protein in their diets than older dogs. So, puppy food generally contains a lot of healthy fat content in order to help the dog gain weight.
Breed Size and Energy Levels:
You also need to take your dog’s breed into consideration, as each breed will have its own unique calorie requirements. As you know, dog breeds vary drastically in terms of both physical size and energy levels, which means they require different amounts of calories per day to sustain themselves. Larger dogs need more calories to sustain their much larger bodies, while high-energy breeds burn far more calories per day than lethargic breeds, so they need to absorb more calories per day from their food.
If you have a larger breed, especially an active dog there is a good chance that your veterinarian will recommend switching them to a high calorie food, as the increase in calories will help support their specific needs.
Then, of course, certain situations can necessitate a high calorie diet. For example, pregnant dogs, as well as those that are nursing, will need to consume more calories than they did prior to the pregnancy. This is because pregnant and nursing dogs struggle to absorb enough calories from their typical diet. Switching these dogs to a higher calorie food will help them produce milk and properly support their growing pups.
Another common situation where a significant increase in calories could be necessary is when a dog is malnourished, or even just sitting a bit below what would be considered a healthy weight. In these situations, your veterinarian may recommend a high-calorie dog food as a way to help the dog put on a healthy amount of weight. This is often the case when dogs are adopted after being neglected or abandoned; however, it is important to follow a veterinarian’s recommendations in these situations, as you do not want to over-feed a starved dog.
Dogs that are intact, meaning they are not neutered or spayed, often require more calories in their diet. While this is generally because they have higher energy levels, there are other reasons for their higher calorie requirements. If you are unsure if you should provide your intact dog with a higher calorie dog food, we recommend speaking with a veterinarian, as they will be able to make the appropriate recommendation.
Why Does a Dog’s Calorie Requirements Differ with Age?
As mentioned above, your dog’s current life stage will be one of the most important factors when determining which type of dog food you should provide for him or her. The best dog foods are formulated specifically for both breed size and life stage, which is why you will always want to avoid generic dog foods that claim they are appropriate for all breeds and life stages.
Puppies and Young Dogs That Are Still Growing:
Young dogs, especially during their formative puppy years, are constantly growing. This is why they require far more calories relative to their body size than dogs that are fully grown. Just like a growing teenager, young dogs go through a fairly significant growth spurt in their early years. Where your puppy may have been small enough to carry in one hand when you first brought him or her home, depending on the breed, they could eventually grow to over 100 lbs. All of that rapid growth means that a puppy’s body requires a massive amount of calories and nutrients to grow.
Simply put, your growing dog’s rapid increase in body size requires plenty of high calorie fuel! Puppies also tend to be far more active and curious than older dogs, which also explains why they burn off calories at a much faster rate than older, fully grown dogs.
This is why dog food that is specifically formulated for puppies will be much higher in calories than dog food that is intended for adult and senior dogs.
When a dog has reached physical maturity and has completed the growing stage, they should be switched to a breed-appropriate adult food. During these years, the dog will still require a significant amount of calories per day, but the exact amount will mostly depend on their lifestyle and physical size. As you can imagine, larger breeds require more calories per day than small and toy-sized breeds; however, lifestyle and the amount of exercise a dog gets per day will also play an important role in determining their daily calorie requirements.
This is why it is important to speak with a veterinarian about the dietary requirements of your specific dog. It is also important that you ensure that your dog gets enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Burning an appropriate amount of calories per day will help your dog maintain a healthy weight, which can help prevent heart disease, joint pain, kidney and liver issues, and much more.
Where puppies and adult dogs often need a type of dog food that is high in calories, older dogs should be switched to a lower calorie food. This is simply because senior dogs need far less protein and calories each day because they are far less active. Not only can their activity levels drop as a result of age-related health issues, like joint pain, they are simply far less energetic.
In addition to scaling back the amount of calories a senior dog receives per day, it is also important to restrict their daily protein intake, as older dogs are far more likely to develop kidney issues than younger dogs. Senior dogs also require diets that are restricted in salt, as they are also far more susceptible to heart disease and high blood pressure issues.
Even if your dog needed a high calorie dog food in their adult years, once they get older and their energy levels and general health begins to decline, it is likely time to cut back on their daily calories. Again, speaking with a veterinarian is one of the easiest ways to know when you should make adjustments to your dog’s diet.
Why Should You Choose High-Calorie Dog Food, Rather Than Just Give Your Dog an Increased Amount of Low-Calorie Food Per Day?
Some dog owners wonder what benefits a high calorie dog food offers over a typical, low-calorie dog food. It turns out that there are actually quite a few advantages to choosing a dog food that is higher in calories.
To make things easier, we will take a quick look at just some of the reasons why high-calorie dog foods can be the right choice for your dog:
- Increased Protein Content – In most cases, high-calorie dog foods contain increased amounts of digestible proteins and healthy fats. As you are likely aware, protein is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in everything from muscle development to maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. Where low-calorie dog foods often contain far less protein, or protein from lower-quality sources, dog foods that are specifically formulated to be high in calories will usually contain significant amounts of protein, as it is a calorically dense nutrient.
Young dogs and puppies need significant amounts of protein in their diets, as it helps support their physical growth. This is part of the reason why veterinarians will recommend a high calorie and high protein dog food for puppies.
- High Calorie Dog Foods Help to Regulate Your Dog’s Digestive System – Monitoring when your dog eats can be almost as important as controlling what he or she is fed. In general, the canine digestive system takes between four and eight hours. In other words, if you feed your dog a meal, roughly four to eight hours later the dog’s digestive system will have absorbed all of the nutrients it can from the food and the dog should be ready to produce a bowel movement.
If you are someone that works outside of the house, having your dog on a regular and predictable feeding schedule will allow you to have a rough idea of when the dog will need to go outside. If you were using a low calorie dog food with more frequent feedings, you would have far less control over the dog’s digestive schedule, which could lead to your dog experiencing serious discomfort and even accidents in the house while you are away. With a high-calorie food, you can give your dog fewer meals, but still ensure they are absorbing an adequate amount of calories and nutrients.
- High Calorie Dog Foods Help Your Dog Feel Full and Energized – By choosing a high calorie dog food, you are providing your dog with a type of food that will help it feel full and satisfied after it eats. On top of that, a calorically-dense food will help support your furry friend’s active lifestyle, so it is a great choice if you have an energetic dog that gets plenty of exercise.
The Top 5 Best High Calorie Dog Foods
Now that you understand why people choose to give their dogs high calorie dog food and why those types of food can be so beneficial, we can go over some of our top picks for the best high calorie dog foods on the market today.
Each of the following types of dog food was chosen not just because they are high in calories, but because they contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as the right balance of protein and healthy fat needed to support a dog’s overall health:
Royal Canin is one of the most reputable dog food manufacturers in North America. The brand was founded in 1968 by veterinarians with a simple vision – to improve the overall health of dogs and cats by providing them with nutritious and healthy foods. This original vision persists to this day and now Royal Canin’s wide range of dog foods are recommended by veterinarians around the world.
Their large breed adult dry food was specifically formulated to provide large, adult dogs with the specific nutrients and calories they require. Given that the food was designed specifically for larger dogs that live an active lifestyle, each serving contains plenty of calories, as well as the right amount of protein and healthy fat needed to support their overall health.
Not only is the food high in calories, it promotes healthy digestion, as it is made from easily digestible, high-quality proteins. Not only that, the added fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids help ensure the dog can absorb the optimal amount of nutrients from the food.
This high calorie dog food is also designed to support healthy skin and coat, which is great news if you have a dog that suffers from any sort of allergies that irritate the skin. Furthermore, the textured dry kibble can help maintain oral health by cleaning the teeth as the dog chews.
Royal Canin’s specialists know that larger, adult dogs need a diet that can help maintain strong joints and muscles, as well as provide them with enough energy to get the exercise their bodies need. Best of all, the hearty chicken flavor and satisfying crunch were specifically formulated to appeal to large-jawed dogs, so you will not have to worry about your canine companion not finishing his or her bowl!
- Textured kibbles help support your dog’s dental health
- Highly digestible and nutritious ingredients
- EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids added to support coat, skin, and digestive health
- High calorie content specifically designed to support large and active dogs
2. Purina – Pro Plan Complete Essentials – High Protein, Digestive Health Dry Dog Food – Beef and Rice Flavor
Most pet owners will be familiar with the Purina brand. They are one of the world’s largest suppliers of pet food, dog treats, cat litter, and more. Purina Pro Plan is considered their premium line of dog food and this high protein blend is one of the best high calorie dog foods they carry.
The food itself comes in the form of a hard kibble, which is combined with shredded pieces of tender, real meat. Not only does the texture and flavor of the shredded meat appeal to dogs, it helps to increase the overall protein and calorie content of the food.
To help improve your dog’s digestive health, Purina adds live probiotics and natural prebiotic fiber to their Pro Plan Complete Essentials dog food. Just like humans, dogs can benefit from consuming probiotics through their diet. Consuming live probiotics, as well as the prebiotic fiber the probiotic bacteria needs to survive, helps with nutrient absorption, immune system strength, and overall digestive health.
This high calorie blend also contains added Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which helps to ensure the dog can properly absorb the nutrients in the food. The addition of vitamin A, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals, really makes sure this dog food offers everything your adult dog needs to live a happy and healthy life.
If you have an active, large-breed dog that needs plenty of calories in his or her daily diet, Purina’s Pro Plan Complete Essentials line of high calorie and high protein dog food is an excellent choice. Your dog will love the real pieces of beef; however, if your dog has a beef allergy, or prefers other flavors, Purina offers the same food in a Salmon and Rice option, as well as a Lamb and Rice flavor!
- Contains natural prebiotic fiber that is sourced from high-quality wheat bran
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help nourish the skin and coat, as well as support digestive health
- Contains tender, shredded pieces of real meat for taste, texture, and added protein and calories
High calorie content is perfect for adult large breeds that are active and healthy
CRAVE is a relatively new dog food brand, but they have built a fairly solid reputation for offering high-quality dog foods that are sourced from natural and healthy ingredients. Their high protein adult dog food blend contains all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your canine friend needs to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
This high protein blend contains high-quality animal proteins, which ensure your dog experiences the full meaty flavor of a natural protein source. In fact, the first ingredient you will find on the label is real lamb meat.
With 34% of the calorie content coming from high-quality animal proteins, it is no surprise that CRAVE’s high protein dog food is growing in popularity so quickly. CRAVE also avoids traditional grain sources for the carbohydrate component of their dog foods. Instead of corn, wheat, and soy, CRAVE opts for protein-rich carbohydrate sources, like peas.
Like the above-mentioned dog foods, this high calorie and high protein blend also comes in the form of a textured dry kibble, which means it helps to support dental health by cleaning the dog’s teeth during chewing.
With added Omega 6 fatty acids and plenty of natural protein sources, your high energy, large-breed dog will easily fill its daily calorie requirements with a few bowls of this nutritious and highly appealing dog food. For those looking for a different flavor, the same impressive nutrient profile is available in a White Fish or Chicken option!
- Does not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Made with real meat, which helps bump up the calorie and protein content of the food
- Made using high-quality carbohydrates, like peas and rice, which increase the calorie content of the food
- Unique flavors that dogs really enjoy, like lamb and venison, white fish, and real chicken
4. Hill’s Science Diet – Large Breed Scientifically Formulated Dry Dog Food – Lamb and Brown Rice Formula
Hill’s Science Diet is another dog food brand that is trusted by veterinarians and pet owners around the world. The brand was founded by veterinarians that held specializations in clinical nutrition. The original aim was to create a specialized diet for the very first guide dog in the American Seeing Eye Dog Program. Since then, Hill’s Science Diet has continued to offer highly nutritious, scientifically-backed cat and dog foods that contain the highest quality ingredients.
Their Large Breed line of dog food is specially formulated to fulfill the caloric requirements of active, large-breed dogs. Not only does it offer a high calorie content, it contains various nutrients that are specifically intended to help support joint health and reduce inflammation. Given that larger dogs and high-energy breeds often suffer from joint issues, especially as they age, the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin can be incredibly beneficial for your dog’s long-term health.
While the food is quite high in calories, it is made with high-quality ingredients that are taken from natural sources. This means the food helps promote lean muscle growth, rather than contributing to unhealthy weight gain. The addition of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, means the food also supports the maintenance and growth of healthy skin and a shiny, nourished coat.
While many of the higher calorie dog foods contain large kibbles, Hill’s Science Diet opted for an extra-small kibble, which means more surface area to make contact with your dog’s teeth. Given how important oral health is for your dog’s overall well-being, the fact that these kibbles also scrub and clean the teeth as your dog chews is really helpful.
Overall, this is an excellent dog food that is made from high-quality, easily digestible ingredients that will help support any fully grown, large-breed dog that has significant daily calorie requirements!
- Developed by more than 220 veterinarians, food scientists, and professional nutritionists to ensure it meets the exact dietary requirements of a large-breed dog
- Balanced blend of Omega fatty acids and vitamin E to support coat and skin health
- Made in the USA and the sale of each bag helps provide food and care for shelter animals across the country
- Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and antioxidants to support healthy mobility and a responsive immune system
Adirondack Pet Food is a relatively new brand; however, they have quickly earned a strong reputation for offering healthy dog and cat food blends that use all-natural ingredients. Their high-quality protein sources and other natural ingredients ensure your dog is only getting what it needs, rather than unhealthy fillers and preservatives.
This higher calorie blend is specifically designed to support the dietary requirements of active, adult dogs. With 26% of the calories coming from healthy and natural protein sources, your dog will feel full, satisfied, and fully energized after eating this nutritious blend.
This particular recipe contains probiotic and prebiotic additives, which help support your dog’s digestive system. The fact that the food contains no traces of corn, wheat, or soy, means that is perfect for dog owners that are looking for a high calorie, low carbohydrate dog food.
We really like that Adirondack does not add any artificial colors or flavors in any of the pet foods that they sell. The addition of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids also means your dog should be able to absorb plenty of the nutrients found in this calorically dense dog food.
- Made using only natural and fresh ingredients
- High protein content ensures your dog is eating a nutritious food that is high in calories
- Contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as probiotics, which helps with digestive health and the maintenance of a strong immune system
- Only contains carbohydrates taken from calorie-dense sources, like rice, rather than soy, wheat, and corn
While calorically dense dog foods can be an excellent choice in certain situations, it is important to know what your particular dog’s calorie and nutrient requirements are. If you are unsure what your dog needs, you can always speak with a veterinarian. Your vet will be happy to come up with an appropriate diet for your dog’s breed and current life stage.
It is also important to choose dog food from a reputable brand that makes its products with high-quality ingredients. While some brands overpromise what their dog foods can deliver, the best brands will use recipes that were formulated by veterinary professionals. In addition to being rich in calories, any of the dog foods we highlighted above contain natural ingredients and the right nutrients required to support your dog’s overall health.
By choosing one of these high calorie dog foods, you will be able to keep your canine friend happy, healthy, and content for years to come!
I grew up in a household that was filled with animals. I believe that my fate as a dog-loving person was sealed in early childhood since my parents owned several dogs of varying sizes and breeds. There was no choice but to take care of and learn about dog habits and the best animal care practices — otherwise, I’d be clueless about how to go about the creatures I was surrounded by day and night.
As a life-long puppy lover, I know a thing or two about dogs and how to go about caring for them in the best way possible. Although I’m not a professionally trained dog behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian, all of my knowledge and experience with canines comes from a place of love and a deep-rooted passion for dogs and animals in general.
Seeing as dogs kept me company throughout every stage of my life, I decided to follow a different path in my academic life and obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Management and Digital Advertising, which ultimately allowed me to combine my professional training and personal experience by creating the ultimate dog lover’s resource website! Along with my husband, Dave, I run MySweetPuppy for like-minded dog lovers who want to have a single, clear, and reliable information source about anything and everything related to dogs and their well-being.