Choosing Quality High Protein Dog Foods: What You Need to Know

These days, there are lots of high-protein dog foods available, but that doesn’t make them all high-quality. After all, many high-protein dog foods are packed with problematic ingredients like peas, lentils, and legumes, which may be associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

So, what are the best high-protein dog foods? Which dogs should eat a high-protein diet? Are there any dogs who shouldn’t eat high-protein foods?

Read on for everything you need to know about high-protein food for dogs.


What Is High-protein Dog Food?

According to the AAFCO nutrition guidelines, food for adult dogs must contain at least 18% protein on a dry matter basis, and food for puppies must contain at least 22.5% protein on a dry matter basis. Therefore, high-protein dog food should contain significantly more than 23% protein. While there is no official definition for high-protein dog food, it usually contains at least 28-30% protein.

IMG 4256

Determining Protein Content

Raw and canned dog foods contain significantly more moisture than dry dog foods, so to compare protein content between different types of dog food, you need to remove the moisture to compare protein levels on a dry matter basis. How?

Let’s use We Feed Raw’s Chicken Patty Recipe as an example.

The recipe contains 71% moisture, which means 29% of the recipe is dry when you subtract 71 from 100. 13% of the total recipe is protein, so if we divide 13 by 29, we discover that 44.8% of the dry matter content is protein.

Let’s compare that to a popular high-protein kibble (Acana Highest Protein Meadowland Recipe) with 12% moisture and 33% total protein. 33 divided by 88 equals 37.5% protein on a dry matter basis.

As you can see, We Feed Raw has far more protein on a dry matter basis than a dry dog food labeled with the words “Highest Protein.”

Ideal Candidates for High-protein Diet

Dogs are perfectly suited to thrive on a high-protein diet of raw meat, organs, and bones, so most dogs will do well on a high-protein diet. However, let’s take a closer look at which pups benefit the most from eating high-protein dog foods and which dogs should avoid it.

Mealtime Excitement

Dogs that Benefit from More Protein

While most dogs benefit from high-protein foods, these dogs definitely need more protein than others:

  • •Puppies

  • •Senior dogs

  • •Pregnant and nursing dogs

  • •Overweight dogs

  • •Working dogs

  • •Very active dogs

  • •High-energy breeds

Dogs That Shouldn’t Eat High-protein Dog Foods

Since processing protein needs a lot of work from a dog’s kidneys, dogs with kidney disease may need a low-protein diet. If your dog has kidney problems, ask your veterinarian what type of diet would be best for your pup.

Jan - 2 - MyGoldenAdventure.jpg

Benefits of Raw Dog Food High in Protein

Since raw dog food is made from muscle meat, organs, and bones, it’s naturally high in protein, providing numerous benefits.

Muscle Maintenance and Growth

Protein is the building block of muscle, so high-protein dog food is perfect for puppies, senior dogs, and active dogs to help build and maintain muscle mass.

huskey licking meat metal bowl outside

Greater Satiety and Potential Weight Management

Carbohydrates may provide temporary energy, but dogs can burn through that energy source quite quickly and then find themselves hungry again before too long on a carb-rich diet. Dog food high in protein helps dogs feel full longer and helps dogs reach and maintain a healthy weight better than food that’s high in carbohydrates.

Enhanced Energy Levels for Active Dogs

Protein is a much better and longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates, so active and working dogs can maintain their high energy more steadily throughout the day without the blood sugar spikes and crashes caused by short-acting carbohydrates.

Golden retriever dog

Selecting the Best High-protein Raw Dog Food

How do you pick the best raw high-protein food for dogs? Here are some things to consider.

Nutritionally Complete and Balanced

The benefits of a high-protein raw diet are all for naught if the food doesn’t contain all the other vitamins and minerals your dog needs to thrive. Some raw diets are only intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only, so look for one that’s labeled as “complete and balanced.”

Golden Retriever

Variety of Proteins to Choose from

Having multiple protein options not only helps keep dogs interested in their food, but it’s also perfect for dogs with food allergies, intolerances, or preferences.

Uses a Kill Step

While dogs’ highly acidic stomachs are designed to handle bacteria and other pathogens without a problem, humans can still suffer from food poisoning. Choosing a raw dog food that uses high-pressure processing (HPP) or another kill step helps keep everybody in the home safe.

We Feed Raw Boxes

Home Delivery

What good is high-protein raw dog food if you run out and have to go to the store? Choose a company that offers delivery and never worry about making another last-minute run to the store for dog food again.

Transitioning to High-protein Raw Diets

Cold turkey diet changes can cause stomach upset, so it’s best to transition your dog to a high-protein diet over about 10 days by gradually feeding them less of their previous diet and more of their new diet.

We Feed Raw

Looking for High-protein Dog Foods? Try We Feed Raw

Ready for a high-protein diet your dog will adore? Try We Feed Raw. We have 6 proteins to choose from, and all of our recipes are nutritionally complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies. We also use a cold-pressure process to eliminate potential pathogens, making it safe for you, your pup, and your family.

Take our quiz now to get perfectly pre-portioned high-protein raw dog food delivered to your door.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What constitutes the best high-protein dog food?

The best high-protein dog food is a high-quality raw diet that is nutritionally complete and balanced and uses a kill step to keep dogs and humans alike safe.

Bowl with Simple Toppers

Why should I choose a dog food high in protein?

Since protein is necessary for building muscles, high-protein dog food is crucial for growing puppies, senior dogs who are less active than they used to be, overweight dogs who need to lose weight, and working or otherwise active dogs who need enough energy to stay fueled all day long.

How does dog food high protein benefit my dog?

A dog food high protein diet benefits your dog by promoting lean muscle mass, providing more energy for active pets, and potentially aiding in healthier weight management. High-protein diets can be especially beneficial for dogs that require higher endurance and those experiencing muscle loss due to aging.

Two dogs, one with white fur and another with black fur taking a walk

Can all dogs have dog food with high protein?

Talk to your pup’s veterinarian before giving a dog with kidney problems a high-protein diet. Most other dogs absolutely thrive on a high-protein diet, especially if it’s a naturally low-carb raw diet.

Is high-protein food for dogs more expensive than regular dog food?

Since high-quality animal protein sources cost more than high-carb filler ingredients, high-protein dog food tends to be more expensive than regular dog food. However, your dog may be healthier and live longer, and you really can’t put a price on more quality years with your pup.

Raw food for dogs by We Feed Raw

Complete & balanced raw meals.

Portioned out, packaged up, and cold-shipped (for FREE!).