The Best Venison Dog Food – Reviews and Ratings of the Best Wet and Dry Brands for Optimal Health

Once upon a time, there were only a few protein sources used in dog food. Chicken and beef were the most common, and anything else was difficult to find.

Nevertheless, in the last few years, there has been a significant rise in boutique, specialty dog food. Now, it is easy to find dog food made with all sorts of different meats, including venison. Many owners have switched to this premium protein sources under the assumption that they are healthier.

However, just because venison dog food tends to be more expensive and “fancier” does not necessarily mean it is suitable for your canine. Dog food made with venison can still be full of fillers and other less-than-stellar ingredients. You must look at the whole dog food, not just the source of protein. Furthermore, not all “venison dog food” is actually made with venison, as one study found.

We reviewed some of the most popular venison dog food on the market to help you make the best choice for your canine. New venison dog food comes on the market all the time, and it can be challenging to sort through it all. Use these reviews to help you make your buying decision.

How We Chose the Best Venison Dog Food

We were very careful in selecting each dog food in our review section. Each food was chosen based on a few key points.

  • The very first thing we paid attention to is how much of the venison dog food is venison. Many dog food brands will label their dog food as “venison,” but will use very little venison in the formulation. One study found that most venison dog foods also contained soy, beef, or chicken. Some even contained more of these protein sources than actual venison. If you’re set on getting a venison dog food for you canine, make sure it is venison. Don’t just trust the recipe name on the package.
  • We also considered the quality of all ingredients. For meat ingredients, this means choosing products that preferably contain whole meat. By-products aren’t necessarily a problem, as long as their source is named. By-products just mean the meat contain things from the animal that humans typically wouldn’t eat, like the hooves and hair. However, our dogs would naturally eat this stuff in the wild.
  • We chose foods with as few fillers as possible. This includes ingredients like corn bran, rice bran, oat hulls, cereal by-products, feathers, soybean hulls, cottonseed hulls, peanut hulls, rice hulls, wheat mill run, citrus pulp, modified corn starch, weeds, and straw.
  • Next, we checked the macronutrient content. Our dogs are designed to eat a diet high in protein and fat, with little carbohydrates. We sought foods that matched this formulation as closely as possible.
  • We also kept the brand of dog food in mind. Some brands have regular recalls or have been linked to specific health problems by the FDA. We ranked these brands lower on our list or didn’t include them at all.
  • We included dog foods designed for a variety of life stages. You should consider your dog’s life stage when choosing a dog food, as dogs will need slightly different diets depending on their age.
  • You should also pay attention to the size of the kibble. This will not be a deciding factor for most dogs. However, if you have a tiny dog, big kibble often won’t work.
  • We were on the lookout for added supplements and nutrients as well, such as vitamin D3 supplements, chondroitin, niacin, riboflavin and probiotics. Not all dogs need this in their diet. However, these inclusions may make the dog food particularly suitable for certain canines.

is Venison good for dogs?

Venison is a healthy lean protein that is great for dogs. It’s a good source of zinc, iron, and essential B vitamins. A novel protein like venison is great for dogs that have allergies or are sensitive and have food-related issues. But it’s important to consider all the ingredients in your bag of venison dog food. Venison (deer meat) can not provide all the nutrition itself for your dog, so you will want to see other healthy ingredients to satisfy your dog’s dietary needs. As you will see below, not all venison dog food is the same!

Reviews of the Best Venison Dog Foods

Best Fresh Venison Dog Food

Our Pick

JustFoodForDogs Venison And Squash For Dogs

  • Venison as the only protein source
  • No preservatives
  • Made in the USA

Doggypedia rating: 5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Lean Ground Venison, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberries.

 

Macronutrients (Dry-Matter Basis):

  • 45% Protein
  • 15% Fat
  • 25% Carbohydrates

venison and potato dog food (good for dogs with allergies)

JustFoodForDogs is one of the few fresh dog food brands that make a venison formulation. This food includes quality ingredients throughout and contains no added fillers. Whole, ground venison is the first ingredient and is the only source of protein. This feature makes this dog food perfect for dogs with allergies.

The second through fifth ingredients are all high-quality veggies. None of them are cheap fillers, which is common among grain-free dog foods. The rest of the ingredients list is added vitamins and minerals to provide your canine with complete nutrition.

The only thing we didn’t like about this food was the macronutrient content. The protein is extremely high at 45%, but the fat is quite a bit lower than we would have liked at only 15%. We would have loved to see a higher fat content and lower carbohydrate content. However, everything else about this food is perfect, which is why we included it as one of our top picks.

Best Dry Venison Dog Food

Our Pick

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe

  • Includes freeze-dried bits
  • Grass-fed venison
  • Grain-free

Doggypedia rating: 5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Venison, salmon meal, herring meal, peas, canola oil.

 

Macronutrient (Dry Matter Basis):

  • 38.46% Protein
  • 37.36% Fat
  • 15.38% Carbohydrates

deer meat dog food

Out of all the foods we reviewed, this is one of the best available. It includes venison as the first ingredient, which is surprisingly rare for “venison” dog food. Furthermore, the first three ingredients are meats. While this formula doesn’t contain just venison, the other two protein sources are salmon and herring, which are both hypoallergenic and suitable for most dogs with allergies.

Peas are the fourth ingredient. This is a cheaper vegetable that isn’t particularly nutritious. With that said, peas are far enough down on the list that we wouldn’t be too worried about the content. They are also one of the few non-meat ingredients that aren’t a nutrient supplement. Because this food contains so few ingredients, it is very suitable for canines with allergies. It is grain-free and does not contain any soy.

The macronutrient content in this food is one of the best on the market. It contains only 15.38% carbs, which is one of the lowest we’ve seen. Furthermore, both protein and fat are incredibly high and matches closely with what our canines would eat naturally in the wild. If you can afford it, this is by far one of the best foods you can purchase for your canine.

Runner-Up

Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Big Game Recipe

  • Contains Lamb, Wild Boar, and Venison
  • Grain-Free
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids for healthy skin and coat

Doggypedia rating: 4/5

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned lamb, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes.

 

Macronutrients (Dry Matter Basis):

  • 42.70% Protein
  • 19.10% Fat
  • 29.21% Carbohydrates

This is a so-so dog food. It contains meat as the first five ingredients and does not contain any grain or low-quality vegetables. However, it is not a “true” venison dog food. Venison does not even appear in the first five ingredients, though it is on the front of the bag and appears lower on the ingredient list. Specifically, venison is the 13th ingredient, behind all the vegetables and countless other protein sources.

If you’re looking for a pure venison dog food, this isn’t the one for you. Otherwise, though, this is a fantastic choice. It contains many different protein sources, which increase the variety of your dog’s diet. All the ingredients appear to be high-quality, and most of the protein sources are whole.

There are some questionable ingredients, like pea protein. Pea protein is a concentrated protein from the pea plant. This is not a complete protein because it does not contain all the necessary amino acids dogs need. Because of this, we prefer dog foods to get their protein from animal sources.

The macronutrient content is not as excellent as we would have liked, either. Carbohydrates are very high at 29.21%, though protein is high as well at 42.7%. We would have liked to see more fat and fewer carbohydrates.

Runner-Up

Crave With Protein From Lamb And Venison

  • Trusted Brand
  • Healthy Pasture-fed lamb
  • No corn, wheat, or soy

Doggypedia rating: 3/5

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned lamb, chicken meal, chickpeas, split peas, pork meal.

 

Macronutrients (Dry Matter Basis):

  • 37.78% Protein
  • 18.89% Fat
  • 34.44% Carbohydrates

Crave is typically a great brand of dog food. However, there were a few things we didn’t like about this formulation. Firstly, while it does claim to contain venison on the front of the package, venison does not even appear as the first five ingredients. For most owners, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if your dog needs a diet of mostly venison, this food isn’t going to fit the bill.

With that said, we do like the overall ingredient list. Deboned lamb is the first ingredient, and there are two other types of meats in the first five ingredients as well. There are no by-products or other lesser-quality meats as well. However, there are quite a bit of peas throughout the whole ingredient list. This is a cheaper veggie that is often used as a filler to bring up the protein content of the food. Dog foods with more peas typically have less meat in them.

The macronutrient content of this food also isn’t great. It has over 34% carbohydrates. We typically don’t include foods that are above 30% carbohydrates. But, there are few venison options, and this is one of the better foods available on the market in this category.

Runner-Up

Zignature Venison Formula Dog Food

  • Limited-ingredient
  • Low-glycemic
  • Limited ingredient

Doggypedia rating: 3.5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Venison, venison meal, pea flour, chickpeas, peas.

 

Macronutrient (Dry Matter Basis):

  • 30% Protein
  • 16.67% Fat
  • 44.44% Carbohydrates

This formula by Zignature is one of the most popular ones on the market. For this reason, we felt that it was necessary to include it on the list. However, we would not strongly recommend this food to any owner except in particular situations.

Venison is the only meat included in this food, with peas and chickpeas being the only veggies. It is also grain and soy-free. Because of this, some owners might consider this food for dogs with severe food allergies. It is exceptionally limited-ingredient and should not trigger the allergies of most canines. Of course, you should work with your vet when choosing dog food if your dog has severe allergies, and also check out our list for the best hypoallergenic dog foods.

However, the lack of variety can constrict your dog’s diet. If they do not have severe allergies, it is probably in your best interest to switch them to dog food with more meat variety included in the ingredients.

The macronutrient content of this food is inferior, however. Carbs are over 40%, and fat is below 20%. To match what our dogs need in their diet, those two numbers need to be switched. Protein is okay at 30%, but it could be higher as well.

Best Wet Venison Dog Foods

Our Wet Pick

Tiki Dog Wildz Venison Recipe

  • Wild-caught venison
  • 91% animal protein
  • Free from grains, artificial colors, and preservatives

Doggypedia rating: 5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Venison, water for processing, beef liver, chickpea flour, dried yeast.

 

Macronutrient (Dry Matter Basis):

  • 47.83% Protein
  • 26.09% Fat
  • 13.04% Carbohydrates

limited ingredient venison dog food

This wet venison food is another excellent option. It has wild-caught venison from New Zealand as the first ingredient, so you can ensure that you’re getting high-quality food. Water for processing is the second ingredient, with beef liver as the third ingredient.

Because of the addition of beef liver, this food isn’t suitable for dogs who are allergic to beef. However, otherwise, this is a very suitable hypoallergenic food. There are only four ingredients besides nutritional supplements and the water, making it a good option for most dogs who need a limited-ingredient diet. All ingredients are high-quality, except for perhaps the dried yeast.

Your dog can be allergic to yeast, which might be a problem for dogs who seem to be prone to food allergies. However, yeast is mostly protein and gives this dog food a great protein-boost. There is no reason to avoid it for most canines, but you should be aware of it if your dog is prone to allergies.

The macronutrient content of this food is quite good. Protein is almost at 50%, and carbohydrates are only at 13%. This is very close to what dogs would have eaten naturally in the wild and is one of the main reasons we sincerely recommend this dog food.

Learn More: Best Pitbull Dog Foods

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