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 which are overpriced rubbish which can lead to even more problems for your dog?
What really are weight loss dog foods?
Below are some of the marketing statements taken from a number of weight loss dog foods. If you consider your dog an animal who thrives on animal ingredients – meat, organs, fats, bone – which of the following would you consider beneficial for weight loss?
- Lower calories – the feeding guidelines will offer fewer calories per serving than regular dog foods, while hopefully being enough to keep your dog satisfied.
- High fibre content – most weight loss dog foods will have more fibre than regular dog foods, with the purpose being to help your dog feel fuller and reduce their overall food intake. Fibre also plays a key part in healthy poos, with less constipation or diarrhea.
- Reduced fat content – Weight loss dog foods may contain less fat than regular dog foods. Fat is a dense source of calories, so reducing fat intake is considered to help dogs consume fewer calories overall.
- 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 said to help weight loss (such as L-carnitine), said to help your dog burn fat and maintain muscle mass.
When it comes to weight loss dog foods you may find they tick those boxes, but do they do so effectively, or is it more about profiting from your overweight pooch?
Consider the following ways of marketing a weight loss dog food:
- Reduced fat ✅ – This may mean more carbohydrates, and carbohydrates turn to sugars causing weight gain! You’ll likely put this down to your dog having a poor metabolism even though you’ve tried a weight loss diet!
- More protein ✅ – This is another way of reducing fat, but read the ingredients of the weight loss dog food and you may find it packed with peas or legumes as a cheap way of inflating protein over more beneficial animal proteins.
- Added supplements ✅ – Adding supplements to a poorly formulated weight loss dog food isn’t fixing the problem. It gives the pet food manufacturer something convincing to write on the packaging even if the main ingredients in the food itself don’t really tackle weight loss.
Shortly we’ll take a look at some of the better weight loss dog foods in Australia, but for now keep in mind this vital piece of information:
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 food for a specific condition for a premium price, then it’s a win-win (for them at least).
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 a lot for to feed your dog, whether they help weight loss or not.
An important consideration – Why did your dog gain weight in the first place?
If you want your dog to lose weight, consider why he gained weight in the first place. Reading the ingredients of your previous dog food is an essential first step.
If you want me to analyze their previous dog food let me know in the comments and I’ll tell you if was a possible cause and why, but generally a dog food with a significant amount of carbohydrates from certain grains would be a red flag.
Cereals, cereal by-products, or wheat can be considered problematic. Ironically these are found in many weight loss dog foods.
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.
Obviously other factors such as exercise, lifestyle, breed, and age will play a part in a dog gaining a few pounds. It is also worth booking an appointment with your vet who will assess your dog and make recommendations – take all information on board.
Recommended weight loss dog foods (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. In fact, there are only three options specifically marketed as weight loss dog food which I would recommend, and all are expensive.
Keep in mind there are other options for the right dog food which do not have “weight loss” on the packaging. You may have luck with a raw or fresh diet, so keep that in mind as well!
Vets All Natural Complete Mix Weight Loss
I’m starting with a curve ball here, but when it comes to options listed specifically for weight loss this happens to be my top recommendation.
Vets All Natural Complete Mix is everything your dog needs in their diet except the meat content. Or to look at it another way, adding this to meat is a simple way of giving your dog a “complete and balanced” diet with the wonderful benefits of fresh meats (also organs and raw meaty bones if you’re happy with that).
A bag may seem expensive, but being air-dried means it will last for ages and likely go a lot further than you think.
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.
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 Weigh 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.
Related: Recommendations for kangaroo dog foods (any of which may help with weight loss!)
Nevertheless, if you’re willing to pay a premium for a weight loss food with seemingly little meat, then here’s some prices:
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?