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Weight Management Dog Food: 7 Vet-Recommended Options

Overweight dog eating bowl of dog food
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Struggling with excess weight isn’t a problem that’s unique to humans — our canine companions often have a few extra pounds to lose, too. And, much like the human weight trends around the globe, obesity is on the rise in dogs. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), approximately 59 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, up from 56 percent just five years ago. (1)

Maintaining an optimal weight is crucial for your dog’s overall health and longevity. So, if your dog is overweight or obese, your veterinarian might recommend weight management dog food to help your pet achieve a healthy body condition. 

But which diet is right for your extra fluffy Fido? Here’s what you need to know about vet-recommended weight management dog food to choose the best diet for your dog.

What Is Weight Management Dog Food?

Weight management dog food is specially formulated to fulfill the unique nutritional needs of dogs with obesity or weight issues. These diets provide the balanced nutrition dogs need to thrive while also curtailing calories to help dogs lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. 

Weight management dog foods typically have a lower caloric density, which means they often have fewer calories per cup or can, when compared to an equal amount of standard dog food. That way, your dog can still enjoy the same amount of food, but they won’t have as many calories in their meal. 

Weight management diets also tend to have a lot of fiber to help your dog feel full and satisfied, so they won’t overeat. And they are usually lower in fat content since fats are more calorie-dense than other nutrients like protein and carbohydrates.  

Best Weight Management Dog Foods

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the Great Pet Care editorial team and do not reflect a direct endorsement by the author.

Best Prescription Weight Management Dog Foods

Best Non-Prescription Weight Management Dog Foods

Prescription Weight Management Dog Food vs Non-Prescription

Depending on a variety of factors, such as how much weight your dog needs to lose or other health issues they have, your veterinarian may suggest either a prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter) weight management diet. 

Both types of diets are formulated to help dogs achieve or maintain a healthy weight. However, there are some key differences.

Prescription Weight Management dog food (also known as a veterinary or therapeutic diet) is often recommended for dogs who need to lose a significant amount of weight. You need approval from a veterinarian to purchase these diets, which are available from vet clinics, as well as some online retailers. 

Non-prescription Weight Management dog food is available for anyone to purchase at vet clinics, most online retailers, and local pet supply stores. It can be used for weight loss or weight management and is often easier on your budget than prescription options. 

Why Vets Might Recommend a Weight Management Dog Food

Minor weight fluctuations are normal in dogs. So your veterinarian isn’t likely to completely change your pet’s diet just because they weigh a bit more than they should at one visit. However, the opposite is true if a veterinarian determines that your dog:  

  • is overweight (generally considered to be around 15 percent over their optimal weight)
  • is obese (30 percent or more over their optimal weight)
  • has struggled with weight in the past, or
  • shows a pattern of incremental weight gain

In these cases, vets tend to recommend a weight management diet to help a pup slim down to a healthier weight. That’s because excess weight in dogs can lead to a wide range of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and joint issues like osteoarthritis

Plus, research has shown that dogs who are overweight or obese could face shorter lifespans than dogs at a healthy weight — between five months to two years shorter, according to one study. (2)

Even if you think your dog is in fine shape, your veterinarian might still recommend a weight management diet for several reasons.

In some cases, gradual weight gain can go unnoticed by pet parents. And because so many dogs are overweight or obese these days, our perception of what’s “normal” may be skewed. According to an APOP survey, about one-third of people with overweight or obese pets classified their animal’s condition as “normal,” “ideal,” or “thin.” (1)

Some dog breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Pugs, and Beagles, are more prone to gain weight than others. So your veterinarian may recommend a weight management diet to reduce that risk. Similarly, as dogs age, their metabolism naturally slows down, so senior dogs may also be candidates for weight management dog food.

Regardless of the reason for the recommendation, keep in mind that your veterinarian is looking out for your dog’s continued health and wellness, not shaming you about their weight!

Top Vet-Recommended Weight Management Dog Foods

Understanding the benefits of weight management dog food is one thing. But making sense of the myriad options available to you could overwhelm even the best-intentioned pet parent. 

To help you discover the best diet to set your pup on the road to a healthier weight, here are the best weight management dog foods, according to veterinarians.   

However, every dog is different. So be sure to discuss these options with your veterinarian to come up with a plan that’s customized to your dog’s specific health and weight management needs. 

Best Prescription Weight Management Dog Foods

Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Management Dog Food

Developed by a team of Ph.D. nutritionists and veterinarians, this Hill’s prescription diet provides targeted therapeutic weight management support that’s clinically proven to help dogs lose weight. The formula works by combining ingredients that kick your dog’s metabolism into high gear for more effective fat burning, while increased fiber levels help keep your pup feeling full and satisfied. So dogs can shed pounds easily without drastic portion reductions. And the results speak for themselves. The company reports that 96 percent of dogs lost weight at home in two months. 


  • Developed for obese, overweight, or obese-prone dogs 
  • Clinically proven to help overweight and obese dogs lose weight
  • Stimulates your dog’s natural metabolism to burn more calories
  • Made with a unique blend of fiber helps your dog feel fuller longer
  • Delivers the precise, balanced nutrition dogs need to thrive
  • According to Hill’s, 96 percent of dogs lost weight in two months when fed this diet at home
  • Comes in both dry and canned dog food formats
  • Also available in a Metabolic + Mobility formula that provides weight management and joint support
  • Can be fed long-term

Things to Consider

  • Prescription required
  • Suitable for adult dogs only
  • Pricier than standard, non-prescription options

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management Dog Food

This specialized formula is the product of a collaboration between Purina’s nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians to tackle one of the biggest challenges in weight management: how to promote healthy weight loss that stays off. The result is a low-fat, reduced-calorie veterinary diet that’s rich in protein to help dogs lose weight while maintaining lean muscle mass. Plus, the formula is enhanced with isofavones, which Purina’s research has shown to help reduce weight gain by 50 percent, compared to dogs fed a control diet.


  • Rich in protein and fiber, low in fat and calories
  • Contains soy isoflavones, natural antioxidants that can help manage weight and reduce the risk of regaining lost pounds
  • Available in both dry and canned options
  • Comes in a variety of highly palatable options, including a Select Blend formula featuring kibble in tantalizing shapes and textures
  • Also available in Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets OM Metabolic Response Plus Joint Mobility to support weight loss and joint health
  • Can be fed long-term

Things to Consider

  • Prescription required
  • Suitable for adult dogs only
  • Contains multiple sources of protein which may not be suitable for dogs with food allergies
  • Pricier than standard, non-prescription diet

Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Moderate Calorie Dog Food

When it comes to specialized diets for dogs, there are almost as many targeting food sensitivities as there are promoting weight management. However, it’s rare to find a formula that addresses both issues. That’s why this veterinary-exclusive formula from Royal Canin stands out from the pack. It’s made with hydrolyzed soy protein, which is broken down on a molecular level to reduce the risk of an immune response in dogs with food sensitivities. Plus, it contains fewer calories than other diets developed for food-sensitive dogs. So it’s a great choice for dogs with food sensitivities that have a tendency to be overweight.


  • Contains hydrolyzed protein, prebiotics, and fiber for easy digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Moderate calorie level helps low-activity dogs maintain a healthy weight
  • Helps reduce GI and skin reactions in dogs sensitive to proteins commonly found in pet foods
  • Rich in amino acids, B vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Highly palatable  

Things to Consider:

  • Prescription required
  • Only available in kibble format
  • Formulated for adult dogs only
  • Pricier than standard, non-prescription diet

Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d Dog Food

The Hill’s Prescription dog food line offers a wide range of effective weight management formulas, and this is one veterinarians often recommend for obese dogs with concurrent health issues. That’s because Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d is clinically proven to promote healthy weight loss within just 8 weeks. And for dogs suffering from severe health conditions stemming from excess weight, such as diabetes or hyperlipidemia, the sooner you can help your dog get down to a healthy weight, the better.


  • Developed for obese dogs, including those with obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol), and colitis
  • Contains therapeutic levels of L-carnitine designed to help burn fat while increasing lean muscle mass
  • Optimal blend of soluble and insoluble fiber to promote satiety
  • Dry and canned options are available

Things to Consider:

  • Prescription required
  • Should only be fed to adult dogs
  • Intended for use of 6 months or less, not for long-term feeding
  • Pricier than standard, non-prescription options

Royal Canin Satiety Support Weight Management Dog Food


  • 97 percent of dogs lost weight in three months while eating this food
  • Helps reduce begging behavior
  • Blend of fibers helps dogs feel full and satisfied
  • High protein helps maintain lean muscle mass during weight loss
  • Available in both wet and dry dog food formats
  • Can be fed long-term

Things to Consider:

  • Prescription required
  • Suitable for adult dogs only
  • More expensive than over-the-counter brands, as well as many prescription brands

Best Non-Prescription Weight Management Dog Foods

Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight is an effective, convenient over-the-counter weight management option that’s perfect for pets with reduced calorie requirements, including dogs that are less active, neutered, or otherwise prone to weight gain. The formula contains a special fiber blend that promotes a healthy metabolism, plus natural, protein-rich ingredients to support lean muscles. Best of all, the Perfect Weight formula is clinically proven to help dogs of all shapes and sizes achieve a healthy weight. Over 70 percent of adult dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight dog food. There are Perfect Weight formulas tailored to meet the needs of large reeds, small breeds, and even dogs with special health needs, such as joint support. 


  • Does not require a prescription
  • Formulated for safe and effective weight loss and long-lasting weight support
  • Over 70 percent of adult dogs fed Perfect Weight formula lost weight within 10 weeks 
  • High-fiber, high-protein formula made with natural, nutritious ingredients
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Also available in formulas tailored for large and small breeds, as well as dogs with joint issues
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients
  • Can be fed long-term
  • Budget-friendly

Things to Consider:

  • Formulated for adult dogs only
  • Not recommended for adult dogs not prone to gaining weight
  • Feeding amounts vary depending on your dog’s ideal weight and weight loss or weight maintenance goals

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Dog Food

This diet is a top-recommended over-the-counter option intended for overweight dogs or dogs who aren’t very active. It contains 15 percent less fat than the standard Pro Plan dog food diet, and it has a protein-to-fat ratio that’s optimized to help your dog lose weight and maintain lean body mass. The food contains a mixture of crunchy kibble and softer “shredded” pieces, so it’s sure to tempt even the pickiest palates. and it’s fortified with live probiotics to support your dog’s digestive and immune health. 


  • Does not require a prescription
  • Formulated for overweight and less active adult dogs.
  • 15 percent less fat than other Purina Pro diets
  • Small- and large-breed formulas available
  • High-protein formula with real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Optimal protein-to-fat ratio to maintain muscle mass during weight loss
  • Contains live probiotics for digestive and immune health
  • Can be fed long-term

Things to Consider:

  • Only available in kibble format
  • Only available in one flavor
  • Suitable for adult dogs only

Switching to a Weight Management Food for Dogs

Once you’ve selected a weight-management dog food with the help of your veterinarian, it’s time to make the switch. Be sure to transition your pet to the new diet gradually, over the course of a week. Suddenly switching the diet can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which may make your dog resistant to eating the new food again in the future. 

Veterinarians often recommend following this schedule:

Days 1-2: 75% old food and 25% new food

Days 3-4: 50% old food and 50% new food

Days 5-6: 25% old food and 75% new food

Day 7: 100% new food

Also, remember that treats and table scraps can be a major source of calories. Generally, pets who need to lose weight should forgo table scraps, which are typically high in calories and fat. However, you can still indulge them with healthy treats from your table, such as carrot sticks. Or you can opt for healthy, low-calorie dog treats, like Lean Treats from Nutrisentials. These veterinarian-recommended chicken bites contain only 7 calories per treat. 

Just be sure to factor any calories from treats into your daily total. You may even want to ask your veterinarian to recommend a specific caloric allotment that your pet can get from treats each day. Generally, this is no more than 10 percent of their daily total. However, depending on your dog’s specific weight management plan, your vet may recommend avoiding treats entirely, if possible.

As long as your dog enjoys the weight management diet you choose and it’s approved for maintenance feeding, many dogs will remain on the weight management food even after they’ve lost the weight to prevent gaining back lost pounds. 

Some weight management foods, such as Hill’s r/d, are only meant for intermittent feeding and should not be fed long-term.

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Weight Management Dog Foods

To make the most of any appointment with your veterinarian, be sure to prepare your questions about weight management before you go. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What options do I have for weight management foods?
  • How often should I feed my dog?
  • How many treats can I give my dog per day?
  • Could you provide examples of healthy treats?
  • When do you want to see my dog again to recheck their weight?
  • Are you concerned about any potential underlying health conditions? If so, what needs to be done to rule those out?
  • Is this diet safe for my dog if they have other health conditions?


  1. “2022 U.S. Pet Obesity Prevalence Survey.” Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Retrieved from https://www.petobesityprevention.org/2022
  2. Salt, Carina, et al. “Association between life span and body condition in neutered client‐owned dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, vol. 33, no. 1, 11 Dec. 2018, pp. 89–99, https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15367