10 Best High Calorie Dog Food in 2021

Healthy Dogs

Here is our review of the best high calorie dog food in 2021.

As a pet owner, I’ve had to face the ordeal of searching for the right dog food for my pooch. I’ve had to consider high calorie dog foods for my dog in order for her to get the nutrients and correct calories she needs. 

Calories are a measurement of the energy the ingredients provide in that food. High caloric content helps active dogs sustain their energy, promote weight gain in underweight dogs, support puppy growth, and maintain a healthy weight in seniors.

I spent several days researching the best high calorie dog food and found that Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Dog Food is the best option overall for dogs who require high-energy diets.

Some dog breeds require more calories for a variety of reasons. So I researched the best high calorie dog food formulas in every category.

Our Best High Calorie Dog Foods

  1. Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Dog Food (Best Overall High Calorie Dog Food)
  2. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Premium High Calorie Dog Food)
  3. American Journey Salmon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Budget High Calorie Dog Food)
  4. Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Puppy High Calorie Dog Food)
  5. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food (Best High Calorie Dog Food for Small Breeds)
  6. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Dog Food (Best High Calorie Dog Food for Large Breeds)
  7. Purina Pro Plan Sport Dry Dog Food (Best High Calorie Dog Food for Active Dogs)
  8. Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food (Best High Calorie Dog Food for Sensitive Dogs)
  9. Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Food (Best Senior High Calorie Dog Food)
  10. Crave Beef Pate Canned Dog Food (Best High Calorie Wet Dog Food)

10 Best High Calorie Dog Foods

All of the dog foods we are about to go through meet AAFCO recommended daily nutrient profiles for dogs. Before switching your dog’s food, consult a veterinarian.

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Dog Food

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Beef, Eggs & Peas Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Ocean Fish Meal, Pea Protein, Potatoes, Dried Eggs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 41% Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 27% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,825 kcal/kg, 415 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: High Protein, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Overall 

This premium dog food is both affordable and can meet all your high-energy dog’s nutritional needs. This specialized formula of beef, ocean fish meal, and eggs provides 41% crude protein and 415 kcal per cup.

Beef and ocean fish meal are both high-quality animal protein sources. In addition, the pea protein in this dog food boosts the protein content further, making this a well-balanced diet with all of your dog’s nutritional needs met.

Ocean fish meal is an excellent ingredient for promoting a healthy coat and immune system in dogs. Primarily, this is because ocean fish meal contains essential omega-3 fatty acids. This ingredient is also high in fat, pushing the crude fat content to 18%. Fat is a crucial source of energy for dogs and high in calories too. [1]

Pumpkins, cranberries, carrots, and blueberries produce concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals for your dog. The probiotics in this dog food enhance nutrient retention, so your pet can use all the energy in this food efficiently.

Pet owners who feed this dog food to their dog highly recommend it; the formula is perfect for active dogs. Keep in mind that it might not suit dogs with legume allergies due to the high pea protein content.

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Atlantic Flounder, Whole Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 22% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,940 kcal/kg, 449 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Grain-Free, High-Protein, Gluten Free, Natural, Raw, No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Premium High-Calorie Dog Food

Orijen Original contains 85% meat ingredients naturally rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The blend of deboned chicken and deboned turkey provides an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids that promote lean muscle development. Chicken meal provides high amounts of glucosamine, a natural chemical compound that develops and maintains cartilage tissue and keeps healthy joints. [2]

The Atlantic Mackerel is rich in protein, phosphorous, niacin, and other essential vitamins D and B12. These nutrients help promote brain functions, boost immunity, reduce inflammation and support healthy skin and a shiny coat.

The remaining 30% of this dog food contains whole fruits and vegetables, offering essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There is no grain, corn, wheat, or soy in this dog food, all of which can cause adverse reactions to sensitive dogs. [3]

Dog owners with sensitive stomach issues or allergies highly recommend this formula to help with gas and calm the digestive system down. 

American Journey Salmon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Salmon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Chondroitin Sulfate, Turkey Meal, Peas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 39% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,740 kcal/kg, 390 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Grain-Free, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, High-Protein
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Budget High Calorie Dog Food

This high-quality, budget dog food has a simple recipe filled with whole ingredients that provide high caloric content of 390 kcal per cup. 

This dog food stands out from the rest of the inexpensive options currently on the market. These typically depend on filler ingredients that are high in calories and have low nutritional content.

The first ingredient is deboned salmon. The deboned salmon vastly contributes to the high 32% protein content found in this dog food. In addition, turkey meal and chicken meal provide additional protein sources. 

The turkey meal and chicken meal contain crushed bone, which contributes as a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine.

14% fat content is relatively low compared to other high-calorie formulas. Salmon oil and flaxseed help provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which assist with brain, skin, and eye health. [4]

This recipe does not contain corn, wheat, and soy but remains still as high in the carbohydrate content of 39%. Peas and sweet potatoes provide high calories, as well as an easily digestible energy source for dogs.

It’s worth noting that the chickpeas contained in this dog food as not a primary source of energy. But they are rich in fiber and help contribute to and maintain your dog’s digestive system.

This dog food is ideal for dogs with an active lifestyle and who struggle to maintain weight on a lower calorie diet. Its moderate amounts of calorie and fat content make it suitable for them.

Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 41.5% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,730 kcal/kg, 406 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Pea-Free, High-Protein
  • Life Stage: Puppies
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Puppies

Recognized by many pet owners to help puppies with digestive issues, it’s also an excellent option for young dogs and active puppies who struggle to maintain a healthy weight while they develop.

Healthy fats and rich, high-quality protein sources form the majority of ingredients in this 400 kcal per cup dog food.

The primary source of protein in this formula comes from the real deboned beef and lamb meal. These red meats contribute towards the 28% crude protein content and provide essential amino acids needed for muscle development. 

The taurine contained in this dog food encourages normal heart function. In addition, the concentrated levels of DHA originating from the salmon meal supports healthy brain and eye development in young dogs.

The lamb meal in this dog food helps limit risks of abnormal skeletal growth or joint conditions because of the glucosamine and chondroitin. [5]

Playing and growing is the most common expenditure of energy in puppies. Feeding your dog a high-calorie diet will ensure they have enough surplus energy while maintaining and developing them healthily. 

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 36% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,719 kcal/kg, 370 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Grain-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Small Breeds

In comparison to large dog breeds, small dog breeds have quicker metabolisms. Hence, they require higher calorie diets to meet their energy needs. This dog food is high in protein, high in fat, and features a caloric content of 370 kcal per cup.

The 32% protein content originates from the venison as the formula’s primary source of protein. The lamb meal and duck meal provide additional protein sources as well. In addition, these meats are ideal for sensitive dogs who suffer adverse allergic reactions to common ingredients found in dog food. 

And, because this dog food is high in protein, it will help maintain muscle mass in active small dogs. Due to their size, small breeds have reduced muscle mass which prevents them from storing sufficient glycogen. They require a consistent source of carbohydrates to avoid conditions such as hypoglycemia. [6]

Small dog breeds thrive on higher fat content; the 18% fat in this dog food is ideal. The ocean fish meal and canola oil provide excellent sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

This recipe is grain-free; the 36% carbohydrate content presents enough digestible energy for small dogs. Instead of grains, peas serve as a primary root of carbohydrates that is additionally rich in protein.

Reviews support this tasty recipe for particularly picky small dogs.

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Dog Food

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 48% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,661 kcal/kg, 388 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Grain-Free, Sensitive Digestion, Gluten-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Large Breeds

Large dog breeds require an alternative diet that provides other nutrients that some high-calorie formulas can’t offer. This formula helps manage the unique health conditions some larger breeds of dogs face while featuring 452 kcal per cup.

A steady 24% protein content from chicken meal promotes healthy muscle use without increasing excess weight in large breeds. In addition, chicken meal is a common source of glucosamine, preserving overworked joints from severe health problems that regularly develop in big dogs. 

A common health problem large dog breeds frequently develop is bloat and severe digestive issues. This formula includes probiotics which assist with the digestion and breakdown of the food. [7]

Vitamins C and E are used in this formula to preserve tissue from oxidative tension and free radicals. The flaxseed is a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease swelling in the gut and joints.

Large dog breed owners recognize the large kibble size designed explicitly for more giant mouths, restricting how quickly they consume it and assists with digestion processing. 

Purina Pro Plan Sport Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sport Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Beef Fat, Poultry By-Product Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 35% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 4,390 kcal/kg, 484 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: High-Protein
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Active Dogs

It’s a well-known fact that the more active you are, the more energy you use. Dogs are no different. Sporting dogs that primarily have active lifestyles require higher energy compared to the average house pet. This dog food is high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates, providing a balanced source of energy and calories (484 kcal/cup).

The beef fat and fish oil comprised in this formula contribute to the 20% crude fat and provide more than adequate energy for active dogs. In addition, this recipe utilizes oxygen metabolism to assist with endurance during exercise.

The glucosamine supports tired joints to preserve versatility. 

The chicken contained in the dog food is the primary source of lean protein. The 30% protein provides essential amino acids that promote muscle mass in active dogs. [8]

Dog owners recognize that their dog’s performance has substantially improved when they’ve been fed this formula. However, this dog food may not be suitable for dogs with a less than active lifestyle. 

Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 43% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,841 kcal/kg, 393 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Low Glycemic, Limited Ingredient Diet, Gluten-Free, Chicken Free, Natural
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Sensitive Dogs

This formula offers a simple recipe for sensitive dogs that require a limited ingredient diet that provides high energy and sufficient calories.

The 28% protein content found in this recipe solely originates from the lamb. Most allergens are proteins, while multiple protein sources contribute to the development of new allergies in dogs. This specific, single-source protein is integral for a sensitive dog’s diet.

Lamb is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium. [9]

Chickpeas and peas provide a suitable alternative source of carbohydrates while contributing to the protein content making the dog food a great option for dogs with gluten and grain allergies.

In addition, the 15% fat content comes mainly from sunflower oil and flaxseed, providing essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These acids assist with managing allergies by reducing inflammation and overall skin health in dogs. 

Overall, dog owners approve of the formula when their dog has suffered reactions to other high-calorie dog foods consisting of common allergens.

Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Ground White Rice, Egg
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Protein, 11% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 51% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 3,400 kcal/kg, 318 kcal/cup
  • Key Features: No Corn No Wheat No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Dog Food for Seniors

Older dogs typically require less protein compared to younger dogs. The 25% protein content in this food is ideal for maintaining muscle mass in older dogs without weakening and straining the kidneys. [10]

The chicken meal makes a highly dense protein source as well as containing high amounts of glucosamine. 

Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound that develops and maintains cartilage tissue and keeps healthy joints. The added taurine in this dog food helps limit the risk of heart problems in senior dogs.

Whole grain brown rice is an easily digestible, rich-in-fiber food source that contains essential minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. The relatively low 11% crude fat content prevents excessive weight gain from this high-calorie formula.

This dog food provides further support from beta carotene, which stimulates and preserves eyesight. In combination, the flaxseed contains omega fatty acids that prevent severe skin conditions. 

Many reviews from senior dog owners state they observed improvements in their dog’s overall health because of this diet. 

Crave Beef Pate Canned Dog Food

Crave Beef Pate Canned Dog Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Chicken Liver, Pork Broth, Chicken Broth, Chicken Heart
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 12% Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Estimated Carbohydrates: 16% Carbohydrates
  • Calorie Content: 1104 kcal/kg, 391 kcal/can
  • Key Features: Grain-Free, High-Protein, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Pea-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: High Calorie Wet Dog Food

99% of this canned dog food originates from animal products. This dog food is high in protein, as well as calories, containing 391 kcal per can.

Compared to other canned foods, this formula’s 12% crude protein content is relatively high. Primarily, the real beef, egg products, chicken, and organs collectively contribute to the diet’s high protein levels.

In addition, the chicken heart and liver are rich sources of vitamins and minerals for dogs, providing adequate levels of vitamin A, which is vital for eye health. [11]

There is a rare amount of plant products contained in this formula. And because it’s grain-free and excludes common allergens such as corn, soy, and wheat, this canned food is ideal for picky eaters.

Pet owners recommend this dog food if you want to encourage weight gain in poor eaters. Some feedback indicates that it’s great as a topper for other types of kibble.


Buying Guide For High Calorie Dog Food

10 Best High Calorie Dog Foods: 2021

Each dog food varies from brand to brand. Not all high calorie dog foods offer the same quality nutrition that your dog needs.

Calories are only a measurement of the amount of energy contained in the food. Any diet you feed your dog should meet their daily nutritional requirements and promote their overall health.

Quality Ingredients

Mainly, the best type of quality ingredients is whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. These whole foods contribute calories to the dog food’s overall energy total, whereas artificial minerals used to enrich formulas don’t. 

In addition, animal products are the most nutritional ingredients for dogs. When purchasing high calorie dog food, look for high-quality protein sources such as eggs, real meat, meat meal, and fish. 

Overall, real meat is the best type of protein source in dog food.

Avoid any foods that contain by-products as these are the leftovers from food processing and offer substantially less nutritional value. 

If you are ever unsure of the ingredients in a specific dog food brand, consult your veterinarian to provide you with expert nutritional information specific to your dog.

Higher Protein Content

Protein is rich in essential amino acids that help your dog’s body develop new muscles. Consider it this way; if your dog has an active lifestyle, then they need to build adequate amounts of muscle mass to ensure they can do their activities. 

Dogs are recognized as omnivores who depend on protein from high-quality animal sources. Meat is primarily concentrated with bioavailable vitamins and essential minerals. 

I previously mentioned that animal products are the most nutritional ingredients for dogs. Dogs thrive on protein; it’s best to review the ingredients on any dog food to ensure they receive an appropriate amount of protein to support muscle mass development.

Feeding your dog low-protein dog food can cause reduced muscle mass and extreme fat deposits.

Active Dog

Reasons Your Dog May Be Underweight

Initially, weight loss in dogs can be a direct symptom of a more severe disease or illness. 

There are a variety of different reasons why your dog may be underweight. Some commonly linked health complications that may be rooted in your dog being underweight include:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

If you have any immediate concerns, speak to your veterinarian to determine the root of the problem. But, it’s important to remember that other underlying factors may be contributing to your dog’s lack of weight, such as their age.

Primarily, poor nutrition is a significant cause of weight loss in dogs.

Recent studies have indicated that 70% of dog owners frequently overestimate the condition of underweight dogs. It is vital as a dog owner that you understand your dog’s daily nutritional requirements and calorie intake.

Unfortunately, dog foods vary from brand to brand, with one cup of dry dog food containing anything from 200 to 600 calories. In addition, some dog foods contain inadequate or ineffective balanced ingredients which do not provide dogs with appropriate nutrition. [12]

It is recommended you check your dog food label before purchasing to check the number of calories per cup.

Below is a table containing the approximate recommended daily caloric needs for dogs. 

Please note: This table is intended for educational purposes and does not substitute your vet’s specific dietary recommendations.

WeightDaily Caloric Requirements
10 lbs180 – 200 calories
20 lbs200 – 275 calories
50 lbs700 – 900 calories
70 lbs900 – 1050 calories
90 lbs1100 – 1350 calories
Pet Obesity Prevention 

Does My Dog Need A High Calorie Dog Food?

Some dogs breeds require higher caloric content as well as dogs with higher activity levels. Typically, calories determine how much energy a food contains, originating primarily from fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

There are a variety of reasons why your dog may need a high-energy diet. 

Weight Gain

Higher calories in a diet can help develop muscle mass. By consuming more calories than they need for energy, the surplus calories turn into healthy weight gain.

Typically dog foods are formulated to control weight, with many assisting overweight dogs in shedding a few pounds safely. However, if your dog is underweight, he will need more calories to improve his overall body condition. 

Puppy Development

During their early years, puppies need a diet with higher caloric content to get sufficient energy. Primarily this is because they’re growing, which is more energy-intensive.

Most puppy foods contain higher calories as well as essential vitamins and minerals to assist with healthy development.

Puppies that don’t eat their required calories can quickly lose weight and hinder growth. Additionally, smaller dog breeds and more active dogs with faster metabolisms need additional calories to prevent weight loss. 

Always keep an eye on your puppy, especially if they’ve just had a growth spurt. If they look slimmer than usual, consider switching to a high-calorie diet. 

Higher Energy for Active Dogs

The same principles apply to dogs as they do to humans when we’re more active. Increased activity levels mean dogs require more calories in order for their bodies to function properly.

The same applies to some breeds with higher energy levels; they may need more calories and protein to support their faster metabolisms.

When purchasing high calorie formulas for active dogs, look for the protein content. The protein needs to higher in order to support active muscles. Active dogs also require increased fat content and easily digestible carbohydrates to ensure they have enough energy for their body to function. 

Final Thoughts

The higher calorie content is fundamental for some dogs in order to meet their energy requirements.

Meeting your dog’s daily calorie requirements will ensure your dog has the energy they need to remain active and healthy. Typically active dogs, breeds with fast metabolisms, or underweight dogs can benefit from the increased caloric content of high calorie formulas.

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon Dog Food is the best overall high caloric formula. This dog food provides high-quality ingredients, without compromising calorie content, in order to meet your dog’s needs.

If your pooch requires some more energy or a few extra pounds, consult your veterinarian about switching to a high calorie diet. 

James Fuller

James Fuller

Founder of Honest Whiskers

Hey! I’ve owned a pet pretty much all my life, in fact, I currently have both a cat and a dog! My mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information

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