Just like humans, different types of dogs benefit from different kinds of diets. Most dogs don’t require a high-protein diet, but dogs that can do well with protein-dense meals are puppies, athletic dogs, and pregnant or lactating dogs.
For dogs that fit any of those categories, finding the right high-protein dog food can help immensely with keeping them well-nourished and improving their overall quality of life. We encourage you to consult with your veterinarian before starting a high-protein diet. Dogs can only use a certain amount of protein to repair body tissues and build muscles, and any excess is converted to energy or stored as fat.
There are so many options to choose from, so we have reviews of some of the most popular high-protein dog food to make the selection process less overwhelming. Make sure to keep reading and refer to our buyer’s guide so that you can purchase the best food for man’s best friend.
A Quick Look at Our Favorites (2023 Update)
|Best Overall||Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken||
|Best Value||Crave High Protein Chicken||
|Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef||
|Best for Puppies||Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat||
|Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains||
The 10 Best High-Protein Dog Foods
1. Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast All Life Stages Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
|Crude Protein:||36% (39.5%-43.5% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken meal, millet, chicken liver, dried egg product|
Our best overall high-protein dog food is Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast All Life Stages Dry Dog Food. Chicken meal and millet are the primary ingredients, with vegetables and fruits being secondary ingredients in this formula. In addition to the high-quality ingredients, this recipe is packed with natural (not chemically synthesized) vitamins, minerals, and probiotics that all active dog needs to thrive. Nature’s Logic has a strong reputation for making dog foods without GMO products and artificial colors.
While Nature’s Logic is a bit pricier than other more common dog food brands on the market, most consumers were very pleased with how much their dogs enjoyed this recipe. However, a handful of dog owners stated their canine did not like this food as much.
2. Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Value
|Crude Protein:||34% (40% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken, chicken meal, pork meal|
You don’t always have to pay a fortune for high-protein dog food. Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is the best high-protein dog food for the money you pay because it contains a good percentage of protein without sacrificing quality.
Along with using chicken and pork, the formula also includes nutrient-dense vegetables. It doesn’t use corn, wheat, or soy. You also won’t find any artificial flavors, coloring, or preservatives either.
The recipe is appropriate for adult dogs of all breeds, and it also promotes a healthy immune system so that your dogs can stay active for longer.
Although all dog breeds can enjoy this food, the kibble in this recipe does tend to run on the small side. Therefore, smaller dog breeds will enjoy it, but it might not be ideal for extra-large breeds because they might just end up swallowing the pieces whole.
3. Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||12% (8% as dry matter))|
|Protein Type:||Beef heart, beef, beef liver|
If you want to give your dog the best of the best premium dog food, Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food has got you covered. As the recipe name states, this recipe uses human-grade beef, and it also doesn’t use any carbohydrate fillers. In fact, the whole recipe is rather simple and doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives.
Beef heart, beef, and beef liver are the first ingredients, and with a dry matter protein of 42.8%, this formula is great for athletic dogs and working dogs. The high moisture content also helps keep dogs hydrated.
Keep in mind that this recipe does contain fish oils which are good for skin but not suited to dogs with fish allergies.
Also, as with all premium dog foods, this meal is relatively expensive. It also must be discarded after being left out for 2 hours. However, with the number of delicious ingredients in the recipe, your dog will probably chow down on this meal without any hesitation.
4. Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Puppy & Performance Dry Food – Best for Puppies
|Crude Protein:||30% (33% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken fat|
Adirondack 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe contains all the nutrients a puppy needs for healthy growth and development. The recipe contains a blend of premium proteins that provide your puppy with DHA, essential vitamins, probiotics, and minerals they need to get on the healthy path to adulthood.
The first two ingredients are chicken meal and brown rice. Both ingredients are simple but contain a high level of protein. Deboned chicken and chicken meal blended with oatmeal and barley pack in a lot of protein needed for active puppies. The recipe is slow-cooked, ensuring that each mouthful is flavorful! It’s a safe and reliable option that meets your growing puppy’s needs.
This recipe is higher in fat (20%) than some other dog foods and any fat and protein not used by the body will be stored as fat.
5. Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||34% (37.7% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Deboned turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal|
This formula contains a healthy blend of real meat and nutrient-dense ingredients. Poultry meat and meat meal are the first three ingredients, and healthy fruits and vegetables, such as apples, blueberries, broccoli, and kale, supplement the meat. Although the recipe contains grains, it’s nutritious oatmeal, so you don’t have to worry about any carbohydrate fillers.
Along with the healthy blend of meat and produce, the formula is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals to support the immune system and promote healthy skin and coat.
This recipe has one of the most well-thought-out formulas, and it does come with a price. It’s commonly on the pricier side of high-protein dog foods. However, you can rest assured in knowing that you’re feeding your dog a nutritious and healthy meal.
6. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Pacific Catch Recipe Dry Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||30% (38% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Deboned salmon, salmon meal, whitefish meal|
This dog food is a delicious protein-dense recipe that’s perfect for fish lovers. It’s a poultry-free formula that doesn’t contain any grains, so it’s easy for many dogs to digest. It contains a mixture of kibble and freeze-dried raw bites, which provides a fun and palatable texture for dogs to chew.
Because the recipe contains a lot of fish, dogs will consume healthy portions of omega fatty acids, which promote healthy skin and coat, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system.
The reason why this recipe isn’t on the top of our list is that it places potatoes rather high on the ingredient list. These can be cheap fillers, and we’d wish to see more nutritious vegetables instead.
7. Purina Beyond Organic Chicken Recipes Variety Pack High Protein Wet Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||7% (35% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Organic chicken, organic chicken liver|
Purina goes above and beyond with this recipe and exclusively uses organic meat and vegetables. The first ingredient is organic free-range chicken raised without any antibiotics or growth hormones.
Every can of food also bears the USDA Certified Organic Seal. So, you can rest assured in knowing that your dog isn’t ingesting any produce grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. It also doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives, and it’s free of corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-products.
However, organic recipes do come with some caveats. First, this recipe is a relatively expensive wet dog food. Since it doesn’t contain any preservatives, it can’t stay out at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.
8. Dog Chow High Protein with Real Beef & Real Chicken in Savory Gravy Variety Pack Wet Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||11% (50% (as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken, meat by-product, liver|
This recipe contains one of the highest percentages of dry matter protein, which can be good for very active dogs. However, too much protein can be detrimental to a dog’s health, so it would be wise to consult with a veterinarian first to see if this diet is appropriate for your dog.
The recipe contains real meat pieces smothered in a delicious gravy, so dogs won’t be able to resist this savory meal. It’s also free of artificial flavors and preservatives.
While the recipe lists chicken as the first ingredient, it does use meat by-product, which is a rather ambiguous ingredient. It also contains wheat, soy, and corn, so may not be the best option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
9. Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula Dry Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||32% (35.5% as dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken meal, chicken, chicken fat, pearl barley|
Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula is an excellent choice for the dog always on the go. This formula is packed with protein from chicken and chicken meal plus rice and barley. This combination of ingredients, along with kale, chia seeds, and blueberries, will give your dog the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they need daily.
Many customers praised Diamond Naturals, stating their dogs love the taste. However, not all dogs have the same taste palate, and some owners said their pooch did not relish this food as previously consumed brands. This product also contains egg products, which some dogs are allergic to when eaten.
10. Tiki Dog Meaty High Protein Chicken Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
|Crude Protein:||14% (70% dry matter)|
|Protein Type:||Chicken, chicken broth, duck|
This protein-dense recipe is a delicious and convenient option for dog owners of small breeds. Each serving comes in individually packed cups to make serving a simple and hassle-free experience.
The first three ingredients are poultry meat, and the recipe is wheat and carbohydrate-free. This can be a great simple recipe for dogs with sensitive stomachs, but dogs do need a certain amount of carbohydrates in their diet.
We didn’t find any vegetables in this recipe, so it’s not the most naturally balanced meal. Therefore, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to supplement your dog’s meal with other natural ingredients.
How to Choose the Best High-Protein Dog Food
Not all high-protein formulas contain high-quality ingredients and are healthy for dogs. When you’re shopping for this type of dog food, make sure to keep an eye out for the following factors.
In general, dogs require a diet that contains a minimum of 18% protein and closer to 22% for growing dogs. For dog food to be classified as a high-protein diet, it needs to consist of at least 30% protein.
All dog food labels will display the crude protein percentage on the packaging. It’s usually located on the back, close to the ingredient list. To compare like for like between different diets, you need to calculate protein as dry matter percentage. This takes into account the wide variation in moisture content between wet and dry diets. Wet diets will always have a low crude protein value, which is why we need to convert this number to dry matter.
As a reminder, more protein doesn’t always mean that the formula is better for your dog. It depends on your dog’s unique needs, and too much protein can end up harming your dog.
Factors that affect protein requirements are life stage, health conditions, and activity level. The best way to determine the appropriate protein percentage for your dog is to work with your veterinarian.
Along with finding dog food with a high crude protein percentage, it’s equally important to assess the quality of protein. When looking at the ingredient list, specified meat protein, such as chicken, beef, or salmon, should be the first ingredient. Meat meal is an acceptable secondary ingredient, but keep in mind that it can be ambiguous as there isn’t just one way to prepare meat meal. Therefore, avoid selecting food that has meat meal as the first ingredient. An important factor is the biological value (BV) of the protein, and this is the amount of the protein that can be digested, absorbed, and used by the body to make its proteins. Tables of biological values can be found to compare sources.
Dry Food vs. Wet Food
Both dry food and wet food formulas contain healthy ingredients for dogs, so one isn’t necessarily always better than the other. When it comes to selecting dry food and wet food, it’ll mostly come down to your personal preferences and your dog’s preferences.
There are many benefits to dry food. It’s typically cheaper than wet food, and each kibble in high-quality dry food is packed with essential nutrients. If you’re unable to feed your dog at specific mealtimes, you can leave out dry food for a longer period than wet food without worrying about the risk of food poisoning or insects getting in it.
Dry food is also a better option for dogs to reduce dental issues, as the chewy and crunchy texture of the kibbles reduces plaque buildup.
However, it’s difficult to find dry dog food with simple formulas. The kibbles need to hold their shape, so different binding agents and starches go into the recipe. So, you might have a more challenging time finding safe dry food recipes for dogs with food sensitivities and allergies.
Dry dog food is also very low in moisture, so you have to take extra care to make sure that your dog is drinking enough water and staying well-hydrated.
Let’s start with the obvious. Wet food has a much higher water content, so you don’t have to worry as much about your dog staying hydrated. It’s also more aromatic, which can be extra enticing for dogs with picky palettes.
You’ll also have an easier time finding wet food with a simple ingredient list. Some dog foods may use a type of starch, such as tapioca starch or potato starch, to thicken up the gravy in their recipe. However, you can also find recipes that omit extra starches.
Wet food is also a good option for dogs that need to manage their weight because they are typically lower in fat and calories. It’s also easier to regulate their food intake because you can’t leave wet dog food out for long periods of time.
If you have a busy schedule and can’t feed your dog consistent mealtimes, wet food will be an inconvenient option for you. Once a can or packet of wet food is opened, it can only stay out for a certain amount of time before it expires, even if you refrigerate it.
Wet food can be good and bad for senior dogs. Since it’s softer, it’s easier to chew and digest. However, if your dog is prone to tooth decay, wet food can cause more harm to your dog’s teeth, especially if they don’t have their teeth brushed regularly.
Based on our reviews, the overall best high-protein dog food is Nature’s Logic Canine Chicken Meal Feast. It has a good crude protein percentage and uses high-quality ingredients. Its relatively affordable price is a bonus.
Crave High Protein Chicken Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food ranks at a close second because it’s affordable but doesn’t compromise quality.
High-protein diets can be extremely beneficial for certain types of dogs but need a change. So, make sure to regularly discuss your dog’s diet with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog consumes meals that contain the right amount of protein for them.
Featured Image Credit: Jaja Fekiacova, Shutterstock