If you have a very active canine friend, whether that’s a working dog or a growing puppy, then he or she needs the right levels of protein in their diet. That’s a fact that can’t be contested. The benefits of such a diet are that the high protein levels will supply your dog with the essential nutrients required to build muscle and give them healthy skin and coat. It will also improve their natural energy levels, giving them the calories that will keep them on the go during sustained periods of exercise.
High protein dog foods also mimic the diet your dog’s ancestors would have had when they scavenged for food sources that would have offered them the higher levels of protein they needed for energy to survive in the wild. So with that in mind, here we look at some of the best dog foods on the market that will satisfy their bodies’ needs for high protein.
Quick Overview of the 5 High Protein Dog Foods
- Brand: Taste of the Wild
- First 5 ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
- Primary Protein Source: Lamb & Beef
- Calories: 422 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Beef, Venison, Lamb, Meat
- Life Stage: Adult
Containing a minimum ratio of 32.0% protein, Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food is one of the top-selling high protein foods designed for active, healthy dogs. As it’s a grain-free formula, it’s eminently suitable for dogs that are allergic to grains or owners who want their pets to have a more natural diet. The formula is made with high percentages of real, lean meat and contains supplemental fruits and vegetables to contribute antioxidants that promote a healthy lifestyle.
It also contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin, as well as species-specific probiotics to boost the immune system and aid digestion. Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 7 dog food recipes mentioned in our review of Taste of The Wild Dog Food which is worth a read if you want to know more about the brand.
Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Egg Product, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, Beef, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Ocean Fish Meal, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
- Suitable for all breed sizes
- Prebiotics and fiber to help GI tract
- Contains species-specific K9 strain proprietary probiotics and antioxidants to support digestion, the immune system, and general health.
- Not suitable for puppies or senior dogs
- Trace amounts of other ingredients such as grain may be present in this dog food.
- Brand: Nature’s Logic
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pumpkin Seed, Yeast Culture
- Primary protein source: Chicken
- Calories: 418 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life stage: All stages
Nature’s Logic provides your pooch, no matter what age, with a tasty chicken meal, high protein dog food. This 100% all-natural food is designed to support your dog’s digestive system, muscle growth, and skin and coat health. To add, the recipe also uses non-GMO grain millet which is lower in sugar compared to ingredients such as sweet potato, potato, or tapioca.
A useful detail about this dog food is that it provides pet parents with specific measurements according to your dog’s age and other factors. For example, if your dog is currently pregnant, nursing, or generally quite active, there is a column dedicated to recommending how much you should feed them according to their weight.
Chicken Meal, Millet, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pumpkin Seed, Yeast Culture, Spray Dried Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Montmorillonite Clay, Dried Kelp, Spray Dried Porcine Plasma, Dried Tomato, Almonds, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Carrot, Dried Apple, Menhaden Fish Meal, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Apricot, Dried Blueberry, Dried Spinach, Dried Broccoli, Dried Cranberry, Parsley, Dried Artichoke, Rosemary, Dried Mushroom, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium bifidium Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Pineapple Extract, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract.
- No chemically synthesized vitamins, minerals, or amino acids
- Also free from potatoes, peas, lentils
- Ingredients are sourced from reliable and trustworthy vendors worldwide
- Available in multiple protein varieties
- Fussy dogs may not take to this dog food.
- Can be expensive
- Brand: Merrick
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet potatoes, Potatoes
- Primary protein source: Beef, Lamb, Salmon, Rabbit
- Calories: 392 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Beef, Lamb, Rabbit
- Life stage: Adult
If your pooch isn’t a fan of the usual chicken and turkey meals flavor, Merrick has a popular beef, lamb, and rabbit alternative. This high-protein food contains a mix of freeze-dried raw-coated kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces that your dog will love. To add, this recipe is grain-free and contains high levels of omega 6, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin which have incredible benefits for your dog’s coat, skin, and joints.
This raw-infused recipe is suitable for adult dogs of all breeds and is made right here in the US. As well as Great Plains Red Recipe, pet parents can also purchase Merrick’s grain-free soft treats and wet dog food which can be used in conjunction with your dog’s dry kibble diet and won’t upset or damage sensitive stomachs. Additionally, unlike other dog food brands, Merrick offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee so if you’re not happy with the product you can get your money back (Not that you would need to!). If you are looking for more options, check out our freeze dried dog food guide.
Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas, Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Pork Fat, Pork Meal, Pea Protein, Lamb, Rabbit, Beef Liver, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Apples, Blueberries, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
- 38% Protein in each bag
- 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back
- Cooked in the USA
- Protein-rich and highly digestible
- Only suitable for adult dogs
- Recommended daily feeding is based on a goal weight not current weight.
- Brand: Orijen
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Turkey, Cod
- Primary protein source: Chicken, Turkey
- Calories: (New) 401 kcal per cup. (Original) 402 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Chicken and Turkey
- Life stage: Adult
Orijen has a shining reputation as a pet food manufacturer and has received plenty of positive reviews from happy customers. All products, including their freeze-dried fish and original dog treats, have over 4 and a half stars and plenty of reviews to prove their worth. This Fit and Trim grain-free dry food is made within the US using a mixture of fresh regional ingredients. Packed with vitamins and minerals, this high-protein dog food is made with free-run chicken and wild-caught fish, including organs, for an authentic whole prey diet.
Orijen is a particularly good choice if your dog is in need of weight management as its packaging has a useful guide to feeding pups who may be especially lean or overweight. This chart also includes additional information regarding any adjustments your may need to make to maintain a healthy weight.
Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Turkey, Cod, Flounder, Whole Herring, Eggs, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Dehydrated Sardine, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Peas, Lentil Fiber, Natural Chicken Flavor, Dehydrated Pumpkin, Whole Navy Beans, Whole Chickpeas, Whole Green Lentils, Pea Fiber, Chicken Heart, Chicken Fat, Lentil Starch, Pea Starch, Pollock Oil, Dried Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Zinc Proteinate, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Whole Apples, Whole Pears, Collard Greens, Whole Cranberries, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
- Comes in a variety of flavors
- 42% Crude Protein
- Awarded Best Dog Food Overall by Business Insider 2021
- Produced in a facility that processes grains
- Only suitable for adult dogs
- Brand: Wellness Core
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
- Primary protein source: Turkey, Chicken
- Calories: 417 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Chicken, Turkey
- Life stage: Adult
Wellness Core provides your pooch with an all-natural dog food made with globally sourced ingredients to ensure they get all of the vital nutrients to support their overall body health. You can be sure that their muscles, heart, digestive system, and joints will be well looked after with this formula. In addition to this, the recipe contains no filler, corn, soy, wheat gluten, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and absolutely no meat by-products.
Overall, this food contains no less than 34% crude protein with the addition of omega 6 and omega 3 to protect and assist joints. Its fusion of proteins such as turkey, chicken, and salmon oil will help improve and support your dog’s muscle tone and body mass. Wellness Core also has a range of protein-packed wet food toppers and treats that are suitable for dogs of all ages.
Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine), Chicken Meal (source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Lentils, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Chicory Root Extract, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
- Contains prebiotics and probiotics for a healthier gut
- No eggs or meat by-products
- Includes taurine to support the heart
- Wholesome whole grain wheat option available
- Dry and wet dog food options are also available
- Manufactured in a facility that processes grains
- Not suitable for puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs.
- Brand: VICTOR
- First 5 ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat, Pork Meal, Chicken Meal
- Primary Protein Source: Beef
- Calories: 406 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Beef Meat
- Life Stage: Adult
Suitable for all active dogs and pups, the Victor Classic – Hi-Pro Plus, Dry Dog Food is a balanced and complete dog food that will provide your pooch with everything they need to maintain their energetic lifestyle.
It is packed with protein for healthy muscles and contains selenium to support cellular regeneration and strong immunity. The formulation also contains mineral complexes that keep the skin and coat healthy and which support paw pad integrity. It’s very easy to digest and dogs love the taste. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our review of Victor Dog Food.
Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Pork Meal, Chicken Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Blood Meal Conventionally Dried, Whole Grain Millet, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Yeast Culture, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Carrot Powder, Tomato Pomace, Salt, Organic Dried Seaweed Meal, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Calcium Stearate, Zinc Methionine Complex, Vitamin E Supplement, DL-Methionine, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Silicon Dioxide, L-Carnitine, Selenium Yeast, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Copper Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Calcium Carbonate, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Vegetable Oil, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract, Inulin, Lecithin, Folic Acid.
- Contains selenium yeast to support metabolic function
- Suitable for adults and puppies
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Also suitable for pregnant and nursing dogs
- 30% crude protein (Not as much as other brands)
- May not be suitable for sensitive dogs stomachs
- Strong smell
- Brand: Blue Buffalo
- First 5 ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal
- Primary protein source: Chicken, Salmon
- Calories: 415 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Salmon, Seafood, and Fish
- Life stage: Adult
Blue Wilderness promises high-quality dog food that contains no corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Instead, this dry food recipe contains numerous proteins, complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and potatoes, as well as antioxidant-rich vegetables to promote healthy weight, strong muscles, and a powerful immune system.
The Blue Buffalo brand promises that its recipe always starts with protein-rich chicken and contains no chicken or poultry by-products or meals. This high-protein dog food is suitable for all dog breeds and comes complete with a useful chart to help you determine how much to feed your pooch based on their size and weight.
Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Tapioca Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Pea Starch, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, DL-Methionine, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
- Grain-free recipe
- No by-products such as chicken meal or other poultry
- Cold-formed to maintain flavor and potency
- Strengthens teeth and bones
- Brands also offers puppy and senior dog food variants
- Only suitable for adult dogs
- Picky eaters may not eat this dog food
- Brand: Crave
- First 5 ingredients: White Fish, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Split Peas, Chicken Fat
- Primary Protein Source: Salmon
- Calories: 422 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Salmon & Oceanfish
- Life Stage: Adult
Salmon and chicken meals are the top ingredients in CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food. The combination of these will provide your dog with enough protein and omega acids to aid overall health and energy. There are no meat by-products included, nor are soy, corn, or wheat added to make up the bulk. Carbohydrates come from quality sources such as chickpeas and pea starch, and with no artificial colorings, flavors or preservatives either, this natural formula is suitable for full-grown dogs of any breed.
Crave is naturally inspired by the diets of the dog’s wolf ancestors and, regardless of the lack of by-products, is made with high-quality ingredients and has a delicious meaty flavor your dog will adore. High in protein at 34.0%, this food gives your dog all he needs for a healthy, lean body, bags of energy, and a strong immune system.
White Fish, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pork Meal, Fish Meal, Pea Starch, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
- Available in wet dog food that can be mixed with its dry counterpart
- New look and recipe with positive reviews
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Grain-free carbohydrate sources
- Only suitable for adult dogs
- Not recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs
- Brand: Purina Pro Plan
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Poultry By-Product Meal
- Primary Protein Source: Chicken
- Calories: 484 kcal/cup
- Flavor: Chicken, Poultry
- Life Stage: All Ages
Purina’s Pro Plan Performance is suitable for all dogs, from puppy to senior. The balanced formula of 30% protein to 20% fat ensures your dog is getting the right mix to feed his metabolic requirements while promoting and maintaining lean muscle mass. Rich in antioxidants, the food helps promote a healthy immune system, while Omega-3 aids mobility by supporting healthy joints.
Animal protein – real chicken meat – is used as the primary ingredient and the formula delivers concentrated nutrition to fulfill all your dog’s needs and support his activity levels. Also, long-term and previous customers have mentioned how this particular dog food has assisted their dogs with mobility issues. You may also like our Purina Pro Plan Dog Food Review.
Important Note: Be aware that you can receive a different type of packaging that is pictured above however this is the same high-quality food promised.
Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Poultry By-Product Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Corn, Corn Germ Meal, Dried Egg Product, Fish Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, VITAMINS [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Magnesium Sulfate, MINERALS [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Garlic Oil. Y446119.
- Perfect for very active breeds including sport/working dogs
- Concentrated nutrition for increased endurance
- Suitable for reproducing females
- Amino acids to revitalize muscles
- Contains corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, and corn germ meal
- Has a new recipe that some dogs no longer agree with
- Brand: Solid Gold
- First 5 ingredients: Beef, Ocean Fish Meal, Pea Protein, Potatoes, Dried Eggs
- Primary protein source: Beef
- Calories: 415 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Beef
- Life stage: All stages
It can be difficult to find a high-protein dog food that is suitable for pups with particular food allergies, especially those who are sensitive to gluten. Solid Gold’s dry food balances its ingredients well and is completely free from gluten, grain, soy, corn, and wheat. Not only does Barking at the Moon maintain muscle, gut, skin, and coat health but it also provides dogs with the beneficial bacteria needed to support the immune system.
What’s more, is that this dog food is suitable for all ages and even lactating and gestating females. It is especially beneficial for dogs who are more active than others, regardless of their breed or size, with a good balance of animal protein and pea protein.
Beef, Ocean Fish Meal, Pea Protein, Potatoes, Dried Eggs, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Cranberries, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Taurine, Rosemary Extract, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product.
- 41% protein
- Suitable for lactating and gestating females
- Contains whole superfoods to encourage good bacteria
- Uses USA sourced beef
- Not suitable for extra small/toy breeds
- Fussy eaters may not take to this
- Brand: Bully Max
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Ground Grain Sorghum
- Primary protein source: Chicken
- Calories: 535 kcal per cup
- Flavor: Chicken
- Life stage: All stages
A lot can be said about this dog food and there’s a reason behind why it has been nicknamed ‘Muscle food for dogs’ and that is because this recipe relies heavily on its protein source. This food is specifically designed for active dogs to help build and maintain muscle mass and contains 30% more protein and 20% more fat than other standard options.
Although this dry food relies on real meat it still excludes harmful ingredients such as corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives that may provoke allergies in dogs. Bully Max and Dog Food advisor also reassure that the ingredients used in this formula are triple-tested, safe, and are of the highest quality.
- Received 5/5 Stars from Dog Food Advisor
- Products have never been recalled
- Very high protein content
- Encourages muscle development
- May not be suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs
- Larger packs may be expensive compared to other brands
Best High Protein Dog Food Buying Guide
What to Consider When Buying a High-Protein Dog Food
You may look at all the information above and begin to panic. How can anyone but a veterinary nutritionist with years of experience choose between all these options? The answer is to do your own research and know your own dog! Your vet will also be able to offer advice, especially if your dog has an existing medical condition or is overweight. Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
Know What the Average Protein Content in Dog Food Should be
In order to choose the right high-protein dog food, you need to understand what’s typical for the average dog. Vets recommend that the average content in terms of protein in a complete diet should be between 20% and 30%. At 30% or above, pet food is considered to be high in protein, so anything that contains 20% or less is classified as low. The average pooch requires somewhere in the middle.
Look for Products That Contain Animal Proteins
No matter whether you want to feed your pet a high or low-protein diet, it’s important to look for animal proteins in the ingredients list. Where proteins derived from animals are the primary source of protein in dog food, you know that they will be easier for your dog to digest. This means a maximum benefit, less waste from undigested proteins. Check the ingredient list carefully – these are always listed in order of the percentage of each ingredient contained from highest to lowest – and expect the top listed items to state chicken, beef, lamb, or fish. The generic term ‘meat’ is no guarantee of quality. You may also like some of the lamb foods for dogs, so be sure to check them out.
Ensure a Balanced Diet
Like all animals, including humans, dogs benefit from a balanced diet of all three of the macronutrients that provide energy – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Discuss your pet’s needs at his annual check-up with your vet to make sure you’re addressing all of his dietary requirements.
Generally, in addition to a good amount of protein, you’ll need to ensure that your dog is getting other important nutrients and vitamins that will assist their overall health and the effectiveness of the protein. The addition of these ingredients will support their lifestyle and offer benefits that the protein cannot give by itself.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that will keep your dogs gut in good condition and will also assist digestion throughout its life. A good amount of probiotics in a new formula will also protect stomachs when gradually changing diets. Also, those pups with sensitive stomachs will benefit from food containing good bacteria as it will also provide immune support and aid vitamin and mineral absorption.
Omega 3 and Omega 6
Omega is important in a dog’s diet and will go hand in hand with a high-protein option. These factors are crucial for cell membrane structure meaning that immune function and general growth will be optimized with their frequent presence in your dog’s food. Skin and coat health and appearance will also improve significantly with the inclusion of omega.
Omega fatty acids are always present in foods that contain fish ingredients such as salmon oil or meals such as menhaden fish meal, trout, or salmon meal. These are ingredients that definitely should not be overlooked although don’t fear if a particular food’s primary protein isn’t fish as they are still often present. Always read the label and the ingredients list to clarify the omega volume and content.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These ingredients are effective in supporting your dog’s joints and bones. If you’re considering a high-protein diet for a working, athlete, or generally active dog then these are ingredients that you should heavily consider when picking a dog food.
This goes especially for those lively dog breeds who are likely to develop arthritis in their senior years. Glucosamine and chondroitin cannot effectively help rid dogs of arthritis although the inclusion of such minerals will effectively support joints and bones in their early years in an attempt to stave off the condition.
- Vitamin C: Dogs can naturally produce their own vitamin C although the supplementation can be beneficial to your dog’s health. This vitamin is a necessary antioxidant that can help to reduce potential inflammation and keep a dog’s wits sharp.
- Vitamin D: This will assist and support bone health and muscle growth. Vitamin D will be a crucial addition if you are particularly set on the development of your dog’s muscles.
- Vitamin E Supplement: You’ll often find that most dog food contains a vitamin E supplement. This is an important addition to assist a dog’s metabolism and to prevent eye, muscle, and reproductive issues. This is also known as a fat-soluble vitamin that can support cell function.
Although not common in some dog foods, the addition of this amino acid can help the function of your dog’s heart. Dogs can produce taurine in their body however it isn’t uncommon for some breeds to become deficient and will rely on an extra intake to prevent eye, heart, and even urinary issues.
Chelated minerals should always be welcomed in a dog’s diet as they can provide your dog with nutrients to help and support function and growth. When researching dog foods you may come across ingredients such as:
- Zinc amino acid chelate
- Copper amino acid chelate
- Manganese amino acid chelate
- Iron amino acid chelate
Chelation is where organic molecules can be merged with minerals to improve absorption significantly rather than allowing it to pass straight through the system.
Notes on Supplements
You can, of course, purchase the above ingredients as supplements in tablet form however, most reliable and trustworthy dog foods will add these in, saving you money and an extra trip to a pet store.
Animal By-Products in Pet Food
When researching the best high-protein dog food for your pup, you may come across foods that claim they are by-product-free however, when turning over to read the instructions you’re met with ingredients such as beef meal, pork meal, chicken meal, or even fish meal, etc. Reviewers often mention this and warn other pet parents of the recipe content but it’s important to understand what by-products and meals are before you refuse a product.
By-products and Meals
By-products are clean, animal left-overs that are processed into pet food. These may include organs or giblets which can still provide your dog with a source of protein. Some consider by-products to be unsafe or low quality however these factors are perfectly edible and provide dogs with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. There are some products above that contain such ingredients in their recipe deliberately to engage and encourage a dog’s appetite. This is because organs are often the first thing an animal eats after killing prey in the wild.
Meals are completely common in dry foods, especially high protein recipes, as they still contain an excellent source of protein and nutrients but exclude water. These parts are cooked and rendered to destroy bad bacteria and to separate fat from protein.
Be wary of recipes that don’t specify what animal meal is contained in their food. Dog foods that simply contain ‘meat meals’ could be using unreliable and untrustworthy vendors to supply their ingredients.
Are Dogs Carnivores?
Generations of vets have been taught at school that dogs are omnivores. Their constitutions are built to digest foods containing carbohydrates, with ten key genes that act to digest starch and metabolize fat. Nonetheless, there’s no escaping the fact that a dog, like its close genetic relative the wolf, shows a strong tendency towards meat as its primary source of nutrition. This can be illustrated by their teeth, for instance, which are designed to tear and chop up meat in their mouths rather than grind plant material and grains from side to side like herbivores such as cows. Higher concentrations of stomach acid than herbivores have also allowed for the faster digestion of animal proteins. Moreover, dogs have larger stomachs in relation to their size than herbivores do, to cope with fewer but larger meals. Overall, then, while dogs are capable of eating an omnivore diet, they show strong tendencies towards a carnivorous one.
Why Do Dogs Need Protein?
Dogs need 22 different essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to survive and live healthily. About half of these are naturally occurring within your pet’s body, but the remainder must be supplemented through their food consumption. Protein plays a range of roles in your dog’s health. Not only do proteins assist in the building and repair of the body’s tissues, but also they help in the formation of new skin cells, the growth of hair, and repairment and development of muscle. Protein is also an important ingredient for the creation of enzymes and hormones; supplies the dog with energy, and helps support a strong and healthy immune system.
Is Excessive Protein in Dog Food Bad for My Pet?
As with humans, the general rule is that a balanced diet is an all-important factor. The other highly important factor that cannot be stressed enough is that every dog is different, and in deciding whether to give your pet a high protein diet, you will need to take his or her individual needs into account. There are some persisting myths around the internet that suggest that a high-protein diet is universally bad for canines, but this is not the case.
- “too much protein is just plain bad for a dog” – wild canines exist on a diet of meat they catch as prey, they do not survive on a diet of grasses and berries! So you’ll find no consensus among animal experts on the internet as to what constitutes “too much” protein. In fact, dogs’ bodies are built to digest and utilize nutrients from proteins. Of course, other macronutrients, i.e. carbohydrates and fats, are also important in terms of good health, so you’re looking for a balanced diet. But there is no scientific research to suggest that proteins constituting 30% or more of a dog’s overall diet will do them harm.
- “high protein diets will make your dog hyperactive” – there is no proven scientific link between hyperactivity and a high protein diet.
- “high protein diets are harmful to the dog’s kidneys” – it’s true that dogs with existing kidney conditions will benefit from a restricted protein intake, but there is no medical research to suggest that high levels of protein intake actually cause illness in an otherwise healthy pet.
Can All Dogs Eat High Protein Diets?
It’s easy to get confused with the huge range of dog foods out there, all promoting themselves as the best of their kind. The critical factor when making your decision about what to feed your dog is to recognize that one size definitely does not fit all. Consider your dog’s lifestyle, time of life, and nature. Puppies, for instance, need a higher concentration of protein than fully grown canines because their bodies are growing. Below are examples of dogs that will rely on more protein in their diets due to specific requirements.
Working Dogs and Canine Athletes
Working dogs or ones that have heaps of energy they need to burn off every day will have a greater requirement for protein than an older, lazy dog who’s content to sleep in front of the fire the majority of the time. You should also consider a high-protein diet if your dog is competing athletically. A diet such as this will provide working dogs and canine athletes with the energy to fuel their muscles and ensure they have the strength and stamina to complete arduous tasks and trials.
Pregnant and/or Nursing Dogs
Additionally, pregnant and active reproducing dogs will also require a lot more protein, similar to what puppies need. This is because they will need the extra energy and vitamins in order to help develop healthy pups. Nursing dogs will need just as much to be able to provide their feeding pups with adequate sustenance needed to grow healthily. Here are some other considerations if you are looking for dog food for pregnant dogs.
The breed is also important, especially at the puppy stage. Too much protein in the diet of a large breed dog can cause excess weight gain in a short space of time, which can put stress on developing joints and lead to conditions such as arthritis in the future.
Dogs with medical conditions such as kidney or liver disease should avoid too much protein, as this can cause additional stress on the organs, accelerating the progression of the illness. Take advice from your vet, and use information supplied by pet food manufacturers who have invested in research to formulate the best pet foods for your pooch at all stages in its life.
Be aware that when looking for suitable high-protein dog foods you may find the prices are a little higher than standard food options. This may be due to the volume of animal protein included in the formula but those pet parents who have bought the foods listed above claim it’s worth every penny to see their pooch benefit in several ways. You may also find that the sellers offer deals that could help save you money in the long run.
The Benefits of a High-Protein Diet for Dogs
For active and growing dogs, the benefits of a diet that’s rich in protein include:
- The development of lean, strong muscle;
- A healthy coat and better skin condition;
- The energy to keep active over long periods of time;
- A boosted immune system;
- Support of organ function, such as the liver and kidney, in healthy dogs.
In summary, getting the right amount of protein in your dog’s diet is all about their individual requirements. In an otherwise healthy dog, there’s no need to assume that a high protein diet will be harmful, provided you ensure a balanced mix of the three main macronutrients overall. Consult your veterinarian for a guide on what to feed your furry friend, and then choose the right one for your pet from our list of the best high-protein dog foods above!
- Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, Feeding Growing Puppies, VCA
- Dog Nutrition Tips, ASPCA
- What are Animal By-Products in Dog Food?, Purina
- Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM, Pet Food (What You Need to Know) for Your Pet’s Sake, PetMD