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7 Best High Protein Dog Foods

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on June 25, 2023
iHeartDogs is reader supported. Some of the links below may be paid affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on a product at no additional cost to you. 

Protein is the cornerstone of a balanced canine diet, playing a crucial role in maintaining healthy muscles, tissues, and organs. But not all protein sources or dog foods are created equal. This article dives into the world of high-protein dog foods, a category that’s gained substantial traction as pet parents strive to optimize their fur babies’ health. Whether your dog is a high-energy working breed, a fast-growing puppy, or recovering from an illness, understanding and choosing the best high-protein dog food can have a profound impact on their overall well-being and vitality.

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#1 – Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties – Grain Free Dog Food, Protein Rich Chewy’s Chicken Recipe – 25 oz Bag

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties are a nutritious and protein-rich option for dogs. The cage-free Chicken recipe is made of 95% chicken, organs, and bone, and contains whole prey ingredients like those found in a dog’s natural diet. This grain-free formula supports digestive health, strong teeth and gums, and a vibrant coat and skin, while providing added vitamins and minerals for overall well-being and energy.


#2 – Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food Nuggets Turkey & Sardine 14 oz, Complete & Balanced Scoop & Serve Healthy Grain Free Raw Dog Food, Crafted in The USA

Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food Nuggets consists of fresh cage-free turkey, wild-caught sardines, and USDA-certified organic fruits and vegetables. This raw dog food is grain-free and free from corn, wheat, soy, lentils, and legumes. It is a shelf-stable, convenient, and delicious raw nutrition source that can be rehydrated with water, Bone Broth, or Raw Goat Milk to provide high digestibility for maximum nutrient absorption.


#3 – ORIJEN Dog Original Recipe, 13lb, High-Protein Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, Packaging May Vary

ORIJEN Dog Original Recipe is a grain-free dry dog food that is made with high-quality animal ingredients, including free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs. With 85% animal ingredients, this food is designed to meet dogs’ natural biological needs and is based on their evolution to eat fresh and raw animal ingredients. The company sources its ingredients from trusted suppliers and delivers them fresh or raw to their kitchen.


#4 – JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Dog Food, Human Grade Beef, Chicken, Turkey Variety Pack (6 Pack)

JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Dog Food is a variety pack of six human-grade meals made with fresh, whole foods that are gently cooked for optimal nutrient absorption. The meals in this pack can be served as a complete meal or as a nourishing topper, and have helped improve dogs’ health by promoting better digestion, healthier skin and coat, increased energy, and easier weight management. The innovative Tetra Pak packaging allows for easy storage and convenience.

#5 – Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Dry Dog Food Raw Blend High Protein Wholesome Grains Red Meat Recipe, 3.5 lb. Bag

Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Dry Dog Food Raw Blend offers a protein-rich taste with the nutrition dogs deserve. The Red Meat Recipe includes six animal protein sources and wholesome grains for easy digestion. With added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, this formula supports whole-body health, including digestive and heart health, as well as hip and joint health and healthy skin and coat.


#6 – ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain Free and Limited Ingredient with Superfoods (Beef, 2.2 lb)

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food is a high-protein, all-natural, grain-free, and limited-ingredient dog food featuring free-range beef, organs, bone, and New Zealand green mussels. It is a great choice for dogs with food sensitivities and includes holistic superfoods such as cold-washed green tripe, organic kelp, and New Zealand green mussels to support digestion, healthy skin and coat, joint health, and heart and brain health. The ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced from New Zealand farms and oceans.


#7 – Wellness CORE RawRev Dry Dog Food with Wholesome Grains, Natural Ingredients, Made in USA with Real Freeze-Dried Meat (Adult, Ocean, 4 lbs)

Wellness CORE RawRev Dry Dog Food is an all-natural, grain-inclusive dog food that combines protein-packed kibble with freeze-dried whitefish pieces for a savory flavor that dogs crave. It is formulated to promote lean body mass, muscle tone, digestive health, and a healthy coat, while also being free from common allergens and artificial ingredients. Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients, this dog food is a nutritious choice for adult dogs of all breeds and sizes.


What Are The Benefits of Increasing a Dog’s Protein?

Increasing the amount of protein in your dog’s diet can have several health benefits, particularly if the protein is derived from high-quality sources.

  1. Muscle development and maintenance: Proteins are the building blocks for muscles and tissues. More protein in the diet can help support your dog’s muscle development and maintenance, making it particularly beneficial for active and working dogs.
  2. Improved skin and coat health: Proteins also play a significant role in maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat. Amino acids, which proteins provide, are necessary for cellular growth and repair.
  3. Support for the immune system: Many components of the immune system, including antibodies, are made from proteins. A diet rich in high-quality proteins can help strengthen your dog’s immune system.
  4. Energy: Proteins can be broken down and used for energy if needed. This can be beneficial for active dogs that need a sustained energy source.
  5. Weight management: High-protein diets can aid in weight management. Proteins provide a sense of satiety, which can help control your dog’s appetite and maintain a healthy weight.

Remember, while there are many benefits to a high-protein diet, not all dogs may require or benefit from significantly increased protein intake. It’s essential to consult with a vet or a canine nutritionist to determine the most suitable diet for your dog’s specific needs.

Related: Best Air Dried Dog Foods


Are There Any Dogs Who Should Not Eat a High Protein Food?

While high-protein diets are beneficial for many dogs, there are certain cases where such a diet may not be recommended.

  1. Dogs with Kidney Disease: Dogs suffering from chronic kidney disease may need to have their protein intake managed carefully. Excessive protein can put strain on already compromised kidneys because they’re responsible for filtering waste products from protein metabolism.
  2. Dogs with Liver Disease: Similar to kidney disease, dogs with certain liver conditions may struggle to metabolize proteins effectively, leading to a buildup of waste products in the body.
  3. Certain Breeds: Some breeds are predisposed to conditions like kidney stones or certain metabolic disorders that may require a lower protein diet.
  4. Senior Dogs: Some older dogs may not tolerate high-protein diets as well as their younger counterparts. However, this is individual and other senior dogs may actually require a higher protein intake to prevent muscle wasting.

In all cases, it’s essential to consult with a vet or a canine nutritionist before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet. The best diet for your dog is one that is tailored to their specific needs and health status.


Frequently Asked Questions About High-Protein Dog Foods

  1. Why do most kibbles have such low protein? While not all kibbles have low protein, those that do often use more grains, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients due to cost-effectiveness and the manufacturing process. Formulating a kibble that’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates can be more expensive and challenging to produce.
  2. Why do dog foods have so many carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are often used in dog foods because they are less expensive and easier to source than proteins. They also provide an essential source of energy and aid in the manufacturing process of dry kibble, helping it to maintain its shape and crunch. However, excess carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain and other health issues in dogs.
  3. Are high-protein diets good for all dogs? While many dogs can benefit from a high-protein diet, it’s not suitable for every dog. Dogs with specific health conditions, like kidney or liver disease, may need to limit their protein intake. Always consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.
  4. Can a high-protein diet cause kidney damage in dogs? In healthy dogs, a high-protein diet does not cause kidney damage. However, in dogs with pre-existing kidney disease, a high-protein diet may worsen the condition. Always consult your vet if your dog has a medical condition and you’re considering a diet change.
  5. What is considered a high-protein dog food? Generally, dog foods with more than 30% protein content (on a dry matter basis) are considered high-protein. This can vary, however, depending on the source and quality of the protein.
  6. How can I increase my dog’s protein intake? You can increase your dog’s protein intake by choosing a higher-protein dog food or adding high-quality protein sources, like lean meats, to their diet. Be sure to make any diet changes gradually and consult your vet.
  7. Can puppies eat high-protein food? Most puppies can benefit from high-protein food because they need more protein for growth and development. However, the food should be specifically formulated for puppies to ensure it has the right balance of other nutrients as well.
  8. Does a high-protein diet improve my dog’s coat? Yes, proteins provide the necessary amino acids for maintaining a healthy coat and skin. If your dog’s diet is deficient in high-quality proteins, it may show in its coat’s condition.
  9. Can a high-protein diet help my overweight dog? High-protein diets can help dogs feel fuller and maintain lean muscle mass, which can aid in weight management. However, weight loss should always be managed under veterinary guidance to ensure it’s done healthily and safely.
  10. Can a high-protein diet cause allergies in dogs? Dogs can develop allergies to specific protein sources, but this isn’t directly related to the amount of protein in the diet. If you notice allergy symptoms in your dog, it’s essential to consult your vet. They can help identify the allergen and recommend appropriate dietary changes.

Related: Nom Nom vs Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Comparison

Conclusion: Best High Protein Dog Foods

Every dog’s nutritional needs vary based on factors like age, breed, health status, and lifestyle. While high-protein dog food can be an excellent choice for many dogs, it’s essential to consider these variables and consult with a veterinary nutritionist or your vet before making any significant dietary changes. The options we’ve explored in this article offer a diverse range of high-quality, high-protein foods, helping you make an informed decision tailored to your dog’s unique needs. Remember, a balanced, nutritious diet is the foundation of your dog’s health and longevity, so choose wisely and with love.

iHeartDogs is reader supported. Some of the links below may be paid affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on a product at no additional cost to you. 

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