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Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not obligatory carnivores, but they still need lots of protein to stay strong and lean. That being said, there are good sources of protein and there are...not so good sources of protein. The leaner your source of protein is, the less fat accompanies it. Beef is traditionally fattier, but you can still get lean beef options that contain high amounts of protein. In fact, our first pick for this list is one such source.
All that aside, the overall health of your dog truly does depend on the quality of the food you’re giving him. With an influx of sub-par foods on the market, it’s important as the consumer to make sure you’re getting something that’s both worth your money and healthy for your dog. Dogs of all breeds can suffer from a variety of health complications directly related to poor diets — the main one being obesity. Millions of dogs suffer from this seemingly harmless condition, and we’ve even gone as far as to create cute nicknames for chubby dogs. The truth is, obesity is as harmful to a dog as it is to us humans.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best dog foods on the market that have a high protein content and no fillers, additives, or other harmful ingredients that you’d want your pup to stay away from. You need to be careful not to buy foods that contain artificial dyes, preservatives, or other ingredients. A natural, wholesome ingredients list is what we’re looking for!
The Importance Of Protein In Your Dog’s Diet
Protein plays a vital role in the diets of both humans and dogs. Protein provides vital amino acids that help to build cells, skin, hair, muscle, and more. These proteins are available from both plant and animal products, but the dog’s ancestors once hunted prey items and acquired protein through meat. Dogs are considered omnivorous, so it’s best to provide your dog with a source of protein that’s a combination of both animal and plant-based nutrients.
Without adequate protein, your pup will start to lose muscle mass, hair, and could even develop joint and bone problems. While dogs are similar to their wild ancestors, it’s best for them to get both plant and animal-based nutrients for a more balanced diet. Most dog foods will contain both, but you want to be sure you’re choosing only premium meats in your dog food.
Good Sources Of Protein
Protein comes from many sources, but some of the best (that you’ll find in dog food) comes from a variety of meats. Good sources of protein include:
● Bison: A grass-feeding buffalo. Fattier meat, high in protein.
● Venison: Deer and elk. Leaner protein with a gamier taste.
● Salmon and fish: Fish is rich in proteins, lean, and contains important Omega-3s.
● Lamb and Pork: Red meats higher in fat but loaded with protein.
● Chicken and poultry: Chicken is a leaner source of protein and is rich in other vitamins for a more balanced protein source.
● Duck and fowl: With a gamier taste and higher fat content, duck and other fowl offer plenty of protein but a bit more fat per pound than chicken and poultry.
Any of these options are fine for your pup’s food, as long as they’re the first ingredient and don’t say “meat by-product” next to them. While meat “meal” isn’t the best choice, it’s still better than a by-product. If you can, always choose a brand that lists the meat as the first ingredient. This ensures your dog is getting a good cut of meat instead of the leftovers.
If possible, give your dog the leanest protein available. This helps to ensure that your dog isn’t building up harmful fats like triglycerides in his bloodstream. These fats can cause an increase in blood pressure and can lead to heart disease. Lean proteins include chicken and poultry, venison, fish proteins, and certain fowl. Leaner proteins are always the better option to prevent the build-up of triglycerides, and many plant-based proteins are far leaner than their animal-based counterparts. At the end of the day, it’s best to have your dog receive protein from both sources, if possible.
The Best High Protein Dog Foods
Of course, when you’re making a decision to switch foods, you’ll want to check with your vet to ensure you’re making the right choice for your dog. Dogs have similar dietary needs, but certain conditions might make your food choice the wrong one. Check with your vet and buy the highest-quality food that fits into your budget. Here are the 6 best high protein dog foods, complete with ingredient, pricing, and availability information.
1. Pupper Beef Recipe
Our Rating: ★★★★★
Customer Reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, with a focus on quality and price as being the major selling points.
Ingredients: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Barley, Flax, Carrots, Beets, Cranberries, Parsley, Sea Salt, Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamins, And Minerals.
The Company: Pupper is a premium dog food brand that takes pride in crafting only the healthiest dog foods for your pup. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, made with wholesome, natural ingredients, and priced for any budget, this is a great option for dog owners of all backgrounds. This blend tastes great, is available for a good price, and trusted by thousands of dog owners already.
Price: A 1-lb bag of Pupper Beef blend costs $59.99.
Availability: This product is available on pawandbone.com.
2. Pupper Chicken Recipe
Our Rating: ★★★★★
Customer Reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, with a focus on how much dogs love the flavor, and how affordable the cost is.
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzards, Brown Rice, Flax, Sweet Potato, Apples, Ginger, Krill, Sea Salt, Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamins, And Minerals.
The Company: Pupper takes the number two spot on our list as well because the chicken blend offers a leaner protein option for dogs of all sizes, while maintaining the P&B standard of quality and affordability. Premium chicken is the first ingredient, so your dog is getting the best possible nutrition for a great price.
Price: This product comes in a 1-lb bag and costs $59.99.
Availability: You can buy this and other great pet products at pawandbone.com.
3. Wholehearted Active Performance High-Protein Beef & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Our Rating: ★★★★☆
Customer Reviews: Mostly positive, with a few mentions of price. Overall, it’s loved by 90% of customers.
Ingredients: Beef, Brown Rice, Pork, Beef Meal (Source Of Glucosamine And Chondroitin Sulfate), Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), White Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (A Source Of DHA), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, L-carnitine, 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 (Preservative), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
The Company: WholeHearted is a brand that focuses on using only premium ingredients for a flavor your dog will love and a value that you can appreciate. For a good price, you’ll get premium beef and brown rice for your active medium to large breed dog, along with salmon oil for Omega-3s and plenty of other vitamins and minerals. You won’t find a more well-rounded blend, and WholeHearted takes a stance of quality and consistency in every pet food blend.
Price: $52.99 for a 40-lb bag.
Availability: This product is available from PetCo and Amazon with free Prime shipping.
4. Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food
Our Rating: ★★★★☆
Customer Reviews: Mostly positive, with positive mentions mostly for taste and the quality of ingredients.
Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal (Source Of Chondroitin Sulfate), Turkey Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Oatmeal, Barley, Chicken Fat, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Quinoa, Natural Turkey Flavor, Chicory Root Extract, Salmon Oil, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols Added To Preserve Freshness, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, 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, 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.
The Company: Wellness Pet Foods is a premium pet food brand that provides high-quality ingredients in blends that pups of all kinds love. The CORE series of pet foods offers premium nutrition from natural ingredients, and is an affordable option for those looking for dog food that won’t break the bank.
Price: This product comes in 4- and 24-lb bags, ranging from $17-$64.
Availability: This product is available from Chewy, Amazon, and PetCo.
5. Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Our Rating: ★★★★☆
Customer Reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, with a particular mention of improved health for their dogs.
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Split Peas, Lentils, Pork Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Starch, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Dl-methionine, Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid (Preservatives), Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Carbonate, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
The Company: Crave is a brand that wants to satisfy your pup’s craving for ancestral foods, and this high-protein blend does just that. Formulated with premium chicken, chicken meal, and pork meal, your dog will get optimal protein and fiber from plant sources. There are no additives or artificial ingredients, just good-quality, tasty ingredients your pup will love.
Price: This product comes in a 4-, 12-, and 22-lb bag. Prices range anywhere from $10-$42, depending on the bag size and carrier.
Availability: Crave’s foods are available on Chewy, Walmart.com, Amazon, Target.com, and more.
6. Taste of the Wild PREY Angus Beef Formula Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food
Our Rating: ★★★☆☆
Customer Reviews: Overwhelmingly positive, with particular mention of Taste of the Wild’s quality ingredients and the flavor that dogs love.
Ingredients: Beef, Lentils, Tomato Pomace, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil (Source Of DHA), Salt, Dl-methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, 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 D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
The Company: Taste of the Wild is a brand you simply can’t leave off of a list like this. With a focus on quality and sustainability, the brand brings your pup food options that closely mimic the foods his ancestors would have hunted in the wild. This prey blend contains premium beef for a great flavor and protein-rich food experience that your dog will want more of after the first bit. Taste of the Wild is also an affordable brand, despite having some of the best ingredients you can get in dry dog food.
Price: A 25-lb bag costs about $55 on Chewy.
Availability: Available on Chewy, PetFlow, PetCo, Amazon, and more.