We all want to do the best for our dogs, from providing them with the best flea treatments, taking care of their paws or even giving them the best dog food on the market. Depending on the type of lifestyle you live with your pup, you may have even noticed a rise in the high-quality, high protein diet for dogs.
Naturally, you probably want to know a little more about this- what is it about high protein dry dog food that gives your dog a new happy, healthy lease of life? If you’d like to know the answers to the top questions about high protein dog food, then read on and find out our top picks, as well as finding out everything you need to know about protein for dogs.
The Best High Protein Dog Food
Topping our list as the best high protein dog food on the market today is Wilderness by Blue Buffalo. Created with meat meal from salmon and chicken, protein is certainly the top ingredient for this dry dog food. And, with no meat by-products, no corn, no wheat, no soy and no artificial colors, preservatives or flavorings, you can be sure that this is the highest quality, high protein dog food available.
This is a meat-rich diet designed to use natural ingredients only, in order to give your canine companion the best diet imaginable- including all the fruits, veggies and antioxidants your dog could need. Available at a great price, it’s no surprise that this is a brand loved by customers across the US.
No hidden extras
Made with high-quality ingredients
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight24 pounds
Created with a focus on providing energy that lasts all day long, this is a great high-quality, high protein dog food that has been designed with active dogs in mind. Made up of premium, high-quality meats, combined with all the vegetables your dog will ever need, High Prairie by Taste of the Wild will keep your dog’s fur silky and soft, while helping to maintain healthy muscle growth.
This brand is slightly more expensive than our top option, although clearly just as popular as ever with over 5,000 confirmed happy reviewers. Many of whom praise how much happier their active dogs were after using this. Just be aware that this isn’t a dog food designed for naturally lethargic dogs!
Ideal for active dogs
- BrandTaste of The Wild
- Weight30 pounds
Being rightly proud of their ingredients, is Merrick’s grain-free dry dog food. Based on 70% protein and 30% being natural sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals, this food is 100% delicious and loved by dogs. Made in the US, Merrick have worked hard to create a premium dog food that works well for dogs who need a high-protein diet.
Unfortunately, this high-quality dog food comes with a premium price tag to match, which can be a little off-putting for some dog owners- especially if they’re not yet sold on the benefits of high protein dog food.
Made from 100% natural ingredients
No1 ingredient is de-boned chicken
Added fatty acids for healthy skin and brain
- Weight24.7 pounds
A comparatively newer entry on to the market than some of the competitors listed here, Primitive Natural by Earthborn Holistic is already gaining some great reviews and climbing the lists, across the US. Both grain and gluten-free, this is a great option for those whose dogs have a sensitive stomach. This is a brand that cares a great deal about providing natural food, in recyclable packaging and with high-quality ingredients that your dog will love.
BPA-free, recyclable packaging
Added fatty acids for healthy skin and brain
- BrandEarthborn Holistic
- Weight28 pounds
With over 40 years’ experience in providing the best pet nutrition, Solid Gold really do live up to their name when it comes to great quality dog food. Another grain and gluten-free option, the high protein dog food on offer here is made up of a minimum of 38% protein. This is a huge amount when compared to others, even on this list.
Ideal for dogs who are particularly active, this dog food comes packed with antioxidants and healthy fats. Despite it’s nutrient-rich recipe, this is actually a low-calorie option, ideal for dogs who need to lose a little extra fat.
Great for sensitive stomachs
Perfect for active dogs
- BrandSolid Gold
- Weight4 pounds
With no byproducts used in the recipe for this high protein dry dog food, Crave have created a great grain-free kibble that is perfect for active dogs who need some great high-quality carbs along with their protein. This, along with the fact that there is no soy, grain, wheat, artificial flavors, artificial colors or artificial preservatives, means that this is the best high protein dog food for pups with a sensitive stomach.
No unnecessary extras
- Weight22 pounds
Produced in a BRC-certified facilities and with the Weruva family still holding the helm of this dog food company, this is a grain and potato-free option for your dog’s high protein kibble. Not only is this food packed with de-boned chicken, salmon meal and turkey meal, but these ingredients are also ethically sourced. With their poultry from cage-free farms and salmon being responsibly farmed. This is as animal-friendly as it gets in the dog food world- but don’t worry, we know your dog will love it as much as the positive reviewers will.
Ethically sourced ingredients
Grain-free and potato-free
Added fatty acids and taurine
- Weight4 pounds
From the dog food giants at Purina, is their dog food for sport dogs as part of their Pro Plan range. Created to meet all of your dogs nutritional needs with a healthy protein:fat:carbs balance, you’ll find 30% of your dog’s kibble will contain protein to help maintain healthy muscles growth. They’ve also added 20% fat to keep your dog’s energy levels at their peak.
This is a high protein dog food designed for dogs that take part in agility, flyball etc. So, if your dog isn’t taking part in any sports, it might be best to avoid the Pro Plan SPORT formula. If, however, you’re taking parts in sports with your dogs, this is one of the best high protein dog foods out there.
Designed for high-energy sports participants
- Weight18 pounds
Our final option comes from Natural Balance and has been designed with as few ingredients as possible. The Limited Ingredient Diet kibble consists of high-quality food that is tested no less than 9 times throughout the manufacturing process, to ensure you and your dog are getting the best of the best. Not only that, but the ingredients truly are limited here, which is great for dogs who are sensitive, or perhaps trying to cut down on their caloric intake
No chicken, potatoes, fillers or grains
Great for sensitive stomachs, or dogs on a diet
- BrandNatural Balance
- Weight24 pounds
Best High Protein Dog Food Buying Guide
How to Choose the Best High Protein Dog Food
While you would think that the easiest way to decide on what makes the best high protein dog food would be the amount of meat used in the production, you’d be wrong. Thanks to marketing ploys and sneaky manufacturers, the ingredients listed on the back of your dog food don’t necessarily have to be as plainly as you’d think.
You might be aware of this, since the same tricks are used in human food as is used in animal food- but, depending on the wording used on the labels, you might not be getting what you pay for, when it comes to your dog’s dinner. For example, a “chicken formula” might be made up with only 7% chicken within the production- and that’s not including the added water, which doesn’t need to be listed on the ingredients.
Still not sure how that pans out? Let me explain:
In order to be called a “formula”, the manufacturer needs to add in at least 25% of chicken to the overall ingredients- in terms of weight. However, because their chicken may be pumped with salts and water, 70% of the weight of the chicken will actually dry up as the food is processed. Whatever is left will make up the ACTUAL chicken intake- but the weight at the time of manufacturing will have changed from the final product. Sneaky.
Of course, the above is actually quite standard across the board and, when you see what other companies do to work around their regulators, this is actually pretty tame. Naturally, this makes it really difficult for buyers to distinguish between what food is actually made up with a good dose of protein, and what just says it is on the label. There’s more info available on this, so we’ll focus on what you should look for in order to choose high quality dog food.
Reading the label is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best high protein puppy food- with ingredient lists beginning with the heaviest item first. Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, dry weight will have more nutrition per pound than hydrated food- so chicken meal, for example, will have more protein, since this is chicken that has been dehydrated (the same goes for all meat and fish products). Thus, high protein dry dog food will have more protein than high protein wet dog food.
You should also check the guaranteed analysis of ingredients, which should give you exact percentages of each amount used per ingredient, in regard to the ingredients as a whole. This should give you a better idea of the dog with the most protein, per serving.
Finally, keep an eye on the wording, anything that says “formula” has to have between 25% and 95% of the main ingredient (watch out for the sneaky ones!). Meanwhile, something that says something in plain terms, such as “lamb for dogs” has to be made up of at least 95% of the main ingredient, stated on the label.
Remember that a high protein diet for dogs can come with a list of pros and cons, and depends entirely on how active your dog is, along with their breed and metabolism. So, be sure that your dog will respond well to a high protein diet by taking their age, breed and the amount of exercise your dog does on an average day into account before investing in protein for dogs.
The Advantages of High Protein Dog Food
You’re only likely to see the advantages of a high protein diet if your dog has the lifestyle to match. That said, for those dogs who fall under the right categories (which are mentioned, below), you can see some huge benefits to switching to a high protein diet for your dog, which include:
- Muscle development
Since protein feeds your muscles, you can see a huge improvement in the health of your dog’s musculature if you switch over to a high protein diet. This is great for dogs who love to run around all day or for those who take part in agility or flyball.
- Fat loss
As long as you go for the low calorie, high protein dog food, you will notice a difference in your dog’s weight, through using a high protein diet. This is because the extra muscle your dog is likely to build, along with the reduced caloric intake, will allow your dog to burn through the fat used in their diet, resulting in overall fat loss.
- Decreased appetite
Since your dog will have a more complete nutritional program, you’ll likely notice that your dog is less likely to ask for a refill in their food bowl. The higher proteins keep their muscles fed, which in turn leads to an overall decrease in appetite.
- Increased alertness
Since protein-based diets for dogs are less likely to be packed with carbs, you’ll probably notice that your dog doesn’t feel so lethargic (as carbs make you more likely to feel drowsy and put on weight). The overall alertness of your dog will increase during the day, meaning your dog will sleep better at night, too.
- Better quality of life
All of the above, combined, lead to a better quality of life- free from as many food-related illnesses such as obesity and with strong, healthy muscles that can support your dog well into old age.
Can Dogs Have Too Much Protein?
Absolutely. Just like any animal, a healthy diet consists of great food, made from great ingredients and given in moderation. Despite many modern marketing tactics cashing in on the idea that dogs are carnivores, the truth is actually very different.
Dogs are omnivores, and their diet needs both meat and vegetable-based nutrients to live a long, happy and healthy life. In order to meet these needs, dogs require a healthy dose of proteins, without being excessive. Since protein requires a good amount of carbohydrates and fats to help the body absorb their protein, you may notice that a lot of dog food that is high in protein, can also be high in calories- which means your dog is likely to put on weight with these ingredients.
Naturally, any extra weight can be very bad for your dog and lead to a range of health problems from arthritis to heart issues. Therefore, if you’re looking for a good high protein dog food- like the ones in our top picks- you’ll need one that has been formulated either for a very active dog, or one that comes with low calories.
What Kind of Dogs Need a High Protein Dog Food?
If your dog falls under one of the following categories, you’ll likely see some huge benefits to feeding your dog a high protein diet:
- Dogs with weight problems
If your dog has started to put on a few pounds, it might be time to switch them to a high protein, low-calorie diet which will allow them to shed the weight and keep their joints and overall health in top condition. The added protein will also help to curb their appetite, so you may notice Fido is less likely to request a full bowl, once they start their new diet.
- Older dogs
Dog food designed for elderly or senior dogs usually come with added protein- but it still might not quite be enough to manage the overall wellbeing of your pup. Having high protein dog food helps to keep your dog’s overall body shape in a much healthier condition- feeding their muscles well into old age while supporting their joints.
- Athletic dogs
The biggest example of the more athletic breeds is the border collie- designed to spend all day running around, herding sheep, this is a breed that will have boundless energy and can become bored very easily. Of course, all that energy needs to be fed, so as to avoid any health problems, later.
The amino acids available in high protein food for dogs helps to feed these muscles and keep your dog going for longer. In the same way that human athletes require a high protein diet to keep their muscles healthy, an athletic dog will need an increased supply of protein to keep themselves in the best condition they can be in.
Since young dogs require extra protein to feed their system as they grow and develop into our beautiful canine companions, high protein puppy food can easily cater to this need. Just be sure that you’re also giving them a healthy diet in every aspect, as they grow and try not to focus too much on protein alone.
- Pregnant and lactating dogs
It’s hard work, creating tiny versions of yourself. It’s always best to discuss your pregnant or lactating dogs’ nutritional needs with your vet before changing their food but, if you’re given the go ahead, high protein dog food can be a huge benefit to their overall health. During this time, a nutrient-dense diet is preferred, and high protein dog food tends to be geared toward giving your dog the best nutritional value, per serving.
Best High Protein Dog FAQ:
Q: Why do dogs need protein?
A: All mammals need a certain level of protein as part of their diet, as we rely on these proteins to help us rebuild and create strong, healthy muscle mass. Without this protein, the muscles would waste away, as the energy required to keep their muscles going simply wouldn’t be there. Once the muscles have gone, your dog would be unable to move.
Q: How much protein does a dog need per day?
A: There are a few factors to consider when it comes to giving your dog an adequate amount of protein. The first of these factors is their breed- some breeds are designed to be very active and their build means they have a higher metabolism.
You should also take their size and age into account, since these affect how much muscle mass needs to be fed, on a daily basis. Other factors include special circumstances, which we have mentioned above, including pregnancy, old age or activity levels.
One general rule is that dogs should have roughly 2 grams of high-quality protein for every kilogram of body weight. Generally, however, the overall content of protein in your dog’s diet should make up around 20-30% of their overall diet, which is sufficient enough to help keep your dog at their healthiest, without risking over-feeding them too much protein.
Q: How can I tell if my food has enough protein?
A: It’s likely that, if your dog isn’t getting enough protein, you’re probably going to need to visit a vet straight away. The symptoms for protein deficiency in dogs include:
- Weight loss
- Bloated/uncomfortable abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Chronic diarrhea
- Vomiting Tremors and
- abnormal behavior (resulting from low blood calcium)
- Excessive urination
- Uncharacteristic lack of energy
These are a little extreme of course, but if you notice that you dog’s coat has become a little dry or brittle, and that your dog has become more lethargic, it’s very likely that they’ll be suffering from a protein deficiency. If this happens take your dog to your local vet immediately and try to swap your dog’s diet for a high protein dog food.
Q: Is meat meal good for my pet?
A: While we can rightly assume that fresh meat is naturally going to be the best option for your dog, it’s also fair to note that meat meal is not particularly bad for your pup, either. While, as with all things, you need to ensure your dog is given meat meal in moderation, it’s worth noting that meat meal is actually just dried up meat that is ground down and then put into your dog’s food.
The main factor to consider when looking into meat meal, however, is where the source of the meat itself comes from, as well as what has been included during the process- ideally, the meat meal should not contain any unpleasant parts of the animal it has been derived from- such as hair, skin, stomach contents and general viscera.
Our Top Pick
With the ability to meet every nutritional need your dog could ever possibly want, Wilderness by Blue Buffalo easily topped out list. This grain-free, natural adult dry dog food has been created with high-quality ingredients to ensure your dog gets the best available to them, at every meal time.
Made up of both meat meal and vegetables, with no hidden nasties and made with completely natural ingredients, it’s no wonder that this is a choice that is loved by customers, who can’t recommend this brand highly enough. Not to mention that dogs love the taste and their bodies look and feel so much healthier, thanks to the best quality high protein dog food on the market!