The Best Low-Fat Dog Foods To Help With Weight Management And Other Health Issues

Because low-fat food isn't just for weight loss.

There are a few different reasons why a pet parent may be considering switching their dog’s diet to a low-fat one. Firstly, dogs who are obese may need help dropping excess weight. And secondly, low-fat dog food can be beneficial for dogs who can’t eat standard dog food, which is higher in fat.

But with so many options out there, which low-fat dog foods are best, and when should you make the switch?

We talked to several vets about when to introduce your dog to a kibble that’s lower in fat, and why low-fat foods aren’t always the answer to helping your dog lose weight.

What pet parents should know before switching to a low-fat dog food

The most important thing pet parents should understand before switching their dogs to low-fat dog food is that not all overweight or obese dogsneed to be eating low-fat food. This is why it’s really important to talk to your vet about establishing a weight-loss plan before changing your dog’s diet.

“Low-fat foods may not necessarily help your dog lose weight,” Dr. Corinne Wigfall, a veterinarian with SpiritDog Training, told The Dodo. “You need to look at overall calorie requirements for your dog per day (ask a veterinarian!), and then work out how many grams or ounces that equates to in food in total.”

Dr. Wigfall said that low-fat foods are often recommended for dogs with underlying health issues like pancreatitis, “as high-fat foods can cause an increased incidence of this disease.”

In fact, in many cases, low-fat dog food — which is also considered low-calorie dog food, and contains less than 10 percent fat or less than 17 percent of calories from fat — is the last resort on a dog’s weight-loss journey.

“Before switching to low-fat dog food, I recommend using an adult dog formula but ensuring to measure the appropriate amount of food at each meal and limiting treats to less than 10 percent of the daily caloric need,” Dr. Michelle Burch, a vet with Paramount Pet Health, told The Dodo.

Benefits of low-fat dog food

Low-fat dog food may not be great for some overweight or obese dogs, but it can be ideal for other pups who need to lose weight and/or have underlying health issues like pancreatitis, high cholesterol or gastrointestinal diseases.

In overweight or obese dogs, low-fat dog food may help your pup feel more full in comparison to eating a lesser amount of regular dog food, and it will provide him with an adequate amount of vitamins and nutrients he may be lacking by eating less regular dog food.

Again, your vet will be able to help you figure out whether or not feeding your dog a low-fat diet will actually benefit his health situation.

How to find the right low-fat dog food

If your vet has given you the go-ahead to find a low-fat dog food that both you and your pup enjoy, then there are a few different things to look for in high-quality, low-fat dog food.

“[Various ‘lite’ dog food options] may have different qualities, such as added fiber, high protein or additional nutrients,” Dr. Jamie Richardson, head of veterinary medicine at Small Door Veterinary, told The Dodo. “Added fiber and high protein may help stave off hunger. Foods with fortified vitamins and minerals may help prevent your dog from developing nutrient deficiencies that restrictive, low-calorie diets can sometimes cause.”

“Low-fat dog foods are typically made with lean protein and fewer fatty ingredients,” Dr. Burch added.

Both Drs. Richardson and Burch said that your vet can give you the best recommendation of what kind of diet dog food to look for that will cover all the bases in terms of nutrients.

“Look for products that are approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO),” Dr. Richardson said. “There should be a statement on the packaging that says the food ‘meets the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.’”

Best low-fat dog food

Along with an increase in exercise and playtime, these diet dog foods have helped obese dogs shed excess weight and are a staple foods for other dogs with varying health conditions.

Best vet-recommended low-fat dog food: Purina Pro Plan Weight Management

Dr. Burch said that her favorite low-fat dog food is the weight management formula from Purina Pro Plan. It’s a high-protein kibble with a protein-to-fat ratio that helps dogs maintain muscle during weight loss. It’s great for obese dogs and those with pancreatic issues, and according to pet parents, dogs seem to love the taste.

Best pet parent-approved low-fat dog food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight

With over 27,900 five-star reviews on Amazon, pet parents say that the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight food has helped their pups maintain their weight and has even helped reduce cholesterol and improve skin and coat. The kibble also contains glucosamine for joint health, which can deteriorate when pups are overweight (and aging).

Best prescription low-fat dog food: Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Dry Dog Food

Dr. Wigfall suggested asking your vet about switching your pup to a prescription diet food like Hill’s Metabolic, which works with your dog’s metabolism to help him lose weight without leaving him feeling hungry. “These diets will be lower in calories compared to other supermarket or pet store brands and will help your pet lose weight sooner,” Dr. Wigfall said.

Prescription foods are best for obese dogs who need more help than just added exercise.

Best budget-friendly low-fat dog food: Purina ONE Weight Management Dog Food

This high-protein weight management formula from Purina ONE helps your dog maintain healthy muscle during weight loss and is packed with fiber to keep energy high and the gut moving. And Purina ONE is a more affordable option, with pet parents being able to get an 8-pound bag for under $15.

Again, consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s weight and overall health. They can guide you to the right food and serving size that will best fit your dog’s situation, no matter his health issues.

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