- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
We all love to spoil our dogs, but sometimes too much love can be a bad thing—at least when it comes in the form of high-calorie treats and snacks. Low-fat dog food has been increasing in popularity as rates of pet obesity have gone up. But how do you know if this kind of food is right for your dog—and which brands are best?
If your dog is starting to pack on the pounds, make some positive changes to help them achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Switching to low-fat dog food is one option to consider.
Low-fat dog food can be a dietary necessity for some dogs that aren’t overweight as well. For example, dogs with pancreatitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have trouble digesting dietary fats. Switching to a low-fat dog food could help manage these conditions.
What Are the Dangers of Obesity for Dogs?
Showering our dogs with treats is a fun way to express our love, but especially when they’re not balanced against the rest of your dog’s food intake, all those treats will catch up in the long run. Even an extra pound or two can be significant for a dog and being overweight can shorten your dog’s lifespan and increase their risk of disease.
Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM and veterinary nutritionist for fresh pet food company NomNomNow, states that up to 60% of dogs are overweight and nearly half of those are obese. The risks associated with canine obesity include:
- Chronic, low-level inflammation that contributes to other diseases
- Increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure and other markers for heart disease
- Osteoarthritis and increased joint degeneration
- Increased risk for urinary bladder stones
- Reduced tolerance for heat and exercise; respiratory issues
Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions seen in dogs. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most preventable and treatable. Meeting your dog’s calorie needs with high-quality dog food, without going overboard on treats and snacks, is the best way to keep them healthy.
If your dog needs to drop a few pounds, switching to a low-fat or weight management dog food might help.
Low-Fat and Weight Management Solutions
As difficult as it might be to say no to those puppy dog eyes, it’s in your dog’s best interest to be at the right weight for their age and their breed. And, yes, your dog depends on you to plan and manage their diet.
If your dog is overweight, there are a few things you can do—and one thing not to do. Never simply cut down the amount you feed your dog. Drastically reducing your dog’s calorie intake might achieve the desired result (weight loss) but it could create other problems. If you start feeding your dog well below the recommended volume of dog food, they might not be getting the necessary nutrients.
Switching to low-fat dog food or a weight management formula is a better option—your vet can help you figure out an approach that includes the right foods and exercise.
When it comes to foods, look for a recipe that is rich in lean animal proteins—that helps your dog build and maintain lean muscle mass. Extra fiber and moisture content will help your dog feel full while boosting digestion and reducing calories. Make sure your dog’s minimum dietary requirements for fats are met (minimum 5% for adult dogs) without going overboard—something at or under 10% fat is ideal.
The Best Low-Fat Dog Food
Whether your dog requires a low-fat dog food for medical reasons or weight loss, the quality of their diet is still extremely important. Make sure that your dog’s food is rich in protein and provides complete and balanced nutrition. Here are our top picks for the best low-fat dog foods:
This low-fat formula (320 kcal/cup) is designed for weight control with easy-to-digest cage-free chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans. It features a holistic blend of functional superfoods, living probiotics, omega fatty acids, and probiotics for gut health and overall immune system support.
This low-fat dog food (368 kcal/cup) features 74% protein from premium animal sources like fresh cod, turkey meal, and salmon meal. It is also low-glycemic, grain-free, and supplemented with probiotics for digestion.
Made with farm-raised chicken and whole-grain carbohydrates, this healthy weight formula (225 kcal/cup) more than meets your dog’s protein requirements but contains only 7% crude fat.
This holistic natural recipe (325 kcal/cup) features premium ingredients like lean chicken, wholesome fruits and veggies, and beneficial supplements to ensure healthy digestion and balanced nutrition.
This grain-free recipe (350 kcal/cup) provides optimal protein and fiber without extra calories or fat. It features real deboned beef as the main ingredient, with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance.
Designed specifically for dogs with pancreatitis and dogs who are watching their weight, this low-fat formula (350 kcal/cup) provides plenty of lean protein but is limited in fat and calorie content.
Packed with protein and flavor, this grain-free formula (353 kcal/cup) features deboned chicken as the main ingredient. It is 30% protein with just 10% crude fat.
Made with a trio of premium animal proteins and loaded with superfoods, this weight management formula (335 kcal/cup) is an excellent source of quality nutrition that’s still low in fat.
Leading with lean proteins like deboned turkey, this reduced-fat formula (360 kcal/cup) helps your dog maintain lean muscle mass without going overboard on fat or calories.
Before you purchase this prescription diet dog food, you’ll need to present confirmation from your veterinarian that this is an appropriate food (or simply provide the seller with your veterinarian’s contact information for them to confirm). This high-fiber food (245 kcal/cup) is formulated to reduce your dog’s body fat by 22% in two months while keeping your pup feeling satisfied.
More Tips for Healthy Dog Food
It may take a while to settle on the right diet solution for your dog’s health and well-being. If you’re having trouble finding an affordable low-fat dog food, you might also consider homemade dog food as an alternative. We’ve got some healthy homemade dog food hacks to pick up some tips on that as well.
Karen Anderson is a writer at Rover. Before joining Rover, she was a writer and editor at Apple and a freelancer for companies including Cardiac Science, Houzz, the Home Owners Club, and the Seattle Times. Her hobbies are dancing, gardening, science fiction, and pet-sitting for friends and neighbors. She shares her house with a delightful clowder of quirky rescue cats.
The Dog People Newsletter
Sign up and get $25 off pet sitting and dog walking!