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.

The Best High Protein Dog Food

1 Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • First 5 ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
  • Primary Protein Source: Lamb & Beef
  • Calories: 370 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 grain-free, it’s eminently suitable for dogs that are allergic to grains or owners who want their pet 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 which 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.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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My two GoldenDoodles were having chronic ear infections. I switched them over to Taste of the Wild based on research about grain-free food & dog allergies & I couldn’t be happier. My dogs have not had a single ear infection in the two years that they have been on this food! I really love that I can switch between flavors without any digestion issues. My dogs seem to like the Salmon and the Roasted Bison the best – so I alternate between the two flavors. This food may appear more expensive than grocery store brands, but when you consider all of the long term health benefits of a grain-free food and the savings from vet bills (not to mention that your dogs will feel better, longer), I actually think that this food is saving you money.

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2 DIAMOND NATURALS High Protein Dog Food

DIAMOND NATURALS High Protein Dog Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Diamond
  • First 5 ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Ground White Rice, Dried Yeast, Egg Product
  • Primary Protein Source: Beef
  • Calories: 329 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Beef Meat
  • Life Stage: Adult

Specially designed with ageing dogs in mind, the Diamond Naturals Natural Pasture Protein formula contains the optimum level of protein balanced with appropriately proportioned fat levels to support a healthy body. Glucosamine and chondroitin is added to promote strong joints; while higher than average levels of fiber and built-in probiotics aid digestion, even in dogs with delicate stomachs.

The high levels of protein in this product derive in part from pasture-raised beef, and there’s no filler, artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives either.

You may also like our guide on the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs.

Ingredients:

Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Ground White Rice, Dried Yeast, Egg Product, Rice Bran, Cracked Pearled Barley, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, 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, Beta Carotene, Chondroitin Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms. The Facility In Which This Food Is Made Also Makes Food That May Contain Other Ingredients.

What others say about it:
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I recently changed my dogs food and they started scratching and licking their paws…so I decided to try this food and within 2 weeks they stopped all that licking and scratching plus they live this food

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3 CANIDAE All Life Stages Dog Dry Food

CANIDAE All Life Stages Dog Dry Food
Key features:
  • Brand: CANIDAE
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice
  • Primary Protein Source: Lamb, Chicken & Turkey
  • Calories: 468 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Fish Meal
  • Life Stage: All Ages

CANIDAE All Life Stages is an all-round, all-purpose dog food, suitable for any breed, age or size of dog. Formulated by vets, the formula doesn’t contain any fillers like soy, corn or wheat. Instead, it is includes high levels of optimal proteins such as chicken, turkey and lamb meal. It’s nutritionally dense, so your dog can gain and digest all the nutrition he needs from less food, meaning less waste, less expense.

Because it’s suitable for almost any canine, it’s great for households with multiple dogs too.

Read our in-depth CANIDAE Dog Food Review.

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, White Rice, Rice Bran, Peas, Potatoes, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Chicken Fat, Millet, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Oceanfish Meal, Salmon Oil, Choline Chloride, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Suncured Alfalfa, Inulin (From Chicory Root), Lecithin, Sage Extract, Cranberries, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract, Sunflower Oil, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Papaya, Pineapple. Contains A Source Of Live Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.

What others say about it:
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I recently switched my two dogs (one is around 3 and the other is almost 10) to this food and have been happy so far. It has good ratings on the dog food advisor website, and the dogs have transitioned well. My vet wanted to make sure it wasn’t grain free as that has been causing heart issues in dogs, and this food has rice and barley in it. I am also happy that it has several sources of protein and good for all ages and sizes of dogs. I feel like it will be an easy food to continue them on without having to switch up the type of protein or worry about their age difference. I also like that this type comes in a big bag as both my dogs are 70-ish lbs.

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4 AvoDerm Natural Triple Protein Dry & Wet Dog Food

AvoDerm Natural Triple Protein Dry & Wet Dog Food
Key features:
  • Brand: AvoDerm
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Turkey Meal, Ground White Rice
  • Primary Protein Source: Lamb & Chicken
  • Calories: 360 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken, Lamb, Turkey, Poultry, Meat
  • Life Stage: All

Avoderm’s Natural Triple Protein dog food contains high-quality proteins from chicken, lamb and turkey meal. It’s guaranteed free from wheat, corn, and soy – a positive for pet owners worried about their dog’s grain intake or dogs with allergies. California avocados are added to the mix to assist in the promotion of a shiny coat and healthy skin, and to give the immune system a boost.

With no artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives, it’s natural throughout and has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs at every stage of their lives, from puppies to the aging canine.

Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Turkey Meal, Ground White Rice, Oatmeal, Millet, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Rice Bran, Tapioca Starch, Herring Meal (Source of Omega 3), Avocado, Dried Tomato Pomace, Flax Seed, Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Kelp Meal, Avocado Oil, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, a-Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate), Rosemary Extract, Sage Extract, Pineapple Stem, Papaya Extract, Dehydrated Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Bifidobacterium Thermophilum Fermentation Product, Dehydrated Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product.

What others say about it:
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My Schnauzer and Chihuahua-Pekingese mix dog both LOVE this dog food. I bought it because the Chihuahua was constantly scratching himself. He had scratched underneath his front legs almost raw. He constantly licked and scratched all night long and it was driving me crazy!! He is getting better and I haven’t even gotten through the case yet. It is pricey but worth every cent if my dogs skin gets better! The schnauzer was constantly licking his feet also and seems to have stopped it so much. He suffers from seasonal alopecia and last summer he had pretty much lost all the hair on his back! I thought perhaps a change in his diet would help because I have heard that corn causes a lot of problems in dogs. I think it’s true! Another thing that’s noteworthy, I switched to this food from another brand and have had NO problems with their stomachs being upset like you can get with other dog food. Usually if you switch food you end up with a dog who has constant gas and maybe even diarrhea. Not a problem with this!!I’m so glad I found it!!

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5 VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • 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 muscle and contains selenium to support cellular regeneration and strong immunity. The formulation also contains mineral complexes which keep the skin and coat healthy and which support paw pad integrity. It’s very easy to digest and dog’s love the taste. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our review of Victor Dog Food.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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My lab has been on this food since she turned 1 (about 7 months now) and I can’t recommend it enough! She looks great, no issues with gas. And I’ve noticed her stools because smaller and more regular. No issues with abnormal stools since switching to this food. It’s also great quality for a fair price. I’ve recommended it to many people!

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6 Purina ONE True Instinct with Turkey High Protein Food

Purina ONE True Instinct with Turkey High Protein Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Purina ONE
  • First 5 ingredients: Turkey, Chicken Meal, Soy Flour, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Primary Protein Source: Turkey & Chicken
  • Calories: 365 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Turkey, Venison, Poultry
  • Life Stage: Adult

Suitable for adult dogs rather than puppies or pregnant and nursing mothers, Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct is a dry dog food that can be mixed with water (one part liquid to four parts feed) if your dog prefers. It’s a complete formula, meaning no additional supplements are required. The top ingredient is real turkey and there are no artificial flavors or preservatives. Glucosamine assists in the maintenance of healthy joints while Omega-6 ensures healthy skin and a shining coat.

The formula is rich and dense in nutrients and easily digestible, so your dog derives the maximum benefit from his meal.

Ingredients:

Turkey, Chicken Meal, Soy Flour, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flakes, Corn Germ Meal, Glycerin, Venison, Natural Flavor, Oat Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Caramel Color, 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), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Potassium Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride. G417420.

What others say about it:
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I am a vet tech and always fed science diet. A few years ago I met a friend that had three Labradors, age 14, 15, and 17. All had been eating this food for years. I decided to give it a try and my dogs loved it and the severe gas they had been experiencing on other foods was gone. I love that if I need a last minute refill I can just grab a small bag at the grocery store to hold us over.

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7 Crave High Protein Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Crave High Protein Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • 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 meal are the top ingredients in CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Dog Food. 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 with no artificial colorings, flavors or preservatives either, this natural formula is suitable for adult dogs of any breed.

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.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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I have 2 dogs. A 9 year old English setter who is allergic to everything like dust, grass and pollen to corn and wheat. I also have a 5 month old German Sheppard puppy who is too big for his feet and legs who is a food hog. I feed them both the grain free flavors and they love each type they have had. Their coats are shiny. Their fur is thick. They look healthy. They have more energy than I can handle sometimes. These pups are 2 happy yappers!

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8 Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • 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 SPORT is suitable for dogs at any life stage, 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 fulfil all your dog’s needs and support his activity levels. 

You might also want to have a look at Purina Pro Plan Dog Food Review.

Ingredients:

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.

What others say about it:
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I have a Chihuahua with cerebellar hypoplasia who is constantly on the move -i’m not kidding – she never stops moving (except to sleep). It seems like she honestly runs a marathon in a day. As such I could not keep her at a healthy weight because she burns every single calorie that she takes in. I tried multiple different foods, multiple meals a day, and yet nothing was working. It got to a point that the volume of food I would have had to feed her to keep her weight up was just not healthy. Then I tried this food on the recommendation of a veterinary nutritionist. It is like night and day. She is back to eating 2 meals a day like my other dogs. I do still have to feed her more volume as compared to my other dogs for her size (but still a healthy amount) but I am so happy with the results. What a relief to have found something that works for her and her unique metabolism. Also, she LOVES this food – gobbles it up as soon as I put it in front of her. Thank you Proplan from one happy Chihuahua and her

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Best High Protein Dog Food Buying Guide

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, a 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 a low protein diet, it’s important to look for animal proteins in the ingredients list. Where proteins derived from animals is the primary source of protein in a dog food, you know that they will be easier for your dog to digest. This means 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.

Read here our guides on the Best Lamb Dog Food and Best Salmon Dog Food.

  • 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.

Cute little Shiba Inu dog eating

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 allow 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 the 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 the 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 on 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, dog’s 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.

dog eating Dry food

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. 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. Breed is also important, especially at 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 future. And 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.

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 longer 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!

Read here our detailed Dog Food Brands List.

Sources:

  1. Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, Feeding Growing Puppies, VCA
  2. Dog Nutrition Tips, ASPCA

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