12 Best Venison Dog Foods 2023 (Premium & Budget)

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Last Updated on January 21, 2023

We all want to give our dogs the best in life. This particularly applies to their food, with venison being an excellent choice for your dog.

This premium quality protein is a fantastic free-range, lean alternative to common dog food ingredients like chicken, beef, or lamb.

Dog looking for more food

But which venison-based dog food is the best? Keep reading as we examine the pros and cons of some of the top picks.

Top 4 Picks for Best Venison Dog Food

  Venison Dog Food Recipes Our Rating
Best Overall Venison Dog Food Taste of The Wild Pine Forest 

  • A grain-free recipe suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion or allergies 
  • Higher protein and fat levels than most other dog foods
  • Surprisingly affordable
Best Budget Venison Dog Food Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct 

  • Has 30% protein included per serving
  • With turkey as the main ingredient, this food is a natural source of glucosamine 
  • High in omega-six fatty acids for maintaining skin and coat
Best Dry Venison Dog Food Taste of The Wild Pine Forest 

  • A grain-free recipe suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion or allergies 
  • Higher protein and fat levels than most other dog foods
  • Surprisingly affordable
Best Wet Venison Dog Food Ziwi Peak Moist Venison For Dogs

  • Features an abundance of meat ingredients 
  • Low-fat formula designed to mimic the prey-based diet of wild dogs
  • New Zealand green-lipped mussels are included as a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine

12 Best Venison Dog Foods

We’ve looked at the best venison dog food brands on the market and researched, so you don’t have to.

From delicious wet food to convenient dry kibble, keep reading to discover the best dry venison dog food for your furry friend.

Best Dry Venison Dog Food

American Foxhound dog having kibble meal mix with egg and cheese
An American Foxhound dog happy having his favorite meal with egg and cheese – Image source

Dry kibble is, of course, the most common and convenient choice when it comes to selecting food for your pet. Here are a few of our favorite dry venison dog foods.

1. Taste of the Wild Pine Forest 

Taste of the Wild Pine Forest Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans
Type: Dry

The Taste of the Wild Pine Forest features venison as the primary ingredient, with lamb meal adding extra protein.

The grain-free recipe is supplement with plenty of delicious fruits and veggies and is suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion or allergies to wheat or corn.


  • This food has higher protein and fat levels than most other dog foods
  • Despite including such high-quality ingredients, this food is surprisingly affordable


  • Contains peas and tomato pomace which can cause your dog to experience gas and stomach distress


2. Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct 

Purina ONE True Instinct Natural High Protein With Real Turkey & Venison

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Turkey (Source of Glucosamine), Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flour
Type: Dry

The Purina ONE True Instinct is a venison dog food for pet owners on a budget. This food, which is designed for adult dogs, features turkey as the primary ingredient, with 30% protein per serving.


  • The turkey in this recipe is a natural source of glucosamine which helps support healthy joints
  • This food is high in omega-six fatty acids which assist your dog in maintaining its skin and coat


  • Corn and soy are included in the ingredient list, and although venison is included, it is pretty far down on the ingredient list


3. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Venison 

Nutro Natural Choice Adult Venison Meal & Brown Rice Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oatmeal
Type: Dry

A limited ingredient dog food, the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Venison recipe is ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Made with New Zealand venison, the protein included in this recipe is of high quality, while oatmeal is included as an easily digestible grain and source of fiber. 


  • The formula is free from any corn, wheat, soy, and GMOs
  • The recipe includes patented levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, and B vitamins and is guaranteed to improve your dog’s skin and coat, or you get your money back


  • Some picky dogs refused to eat this food


4. American Journey Venison & Sweet Potato

American Journey Limited Ingredient Diet Venison & Sweet Potato Dog Food

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Venison, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
Type: Dry

The American Journey Venison & Sweet Potato is a grain-free dog food made without corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meals or artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

The limited ingredient recipe includes venison as the first ingredient, while highly digestible carbs such as peas and sweet potatoes are suitable for dogs with food allergies.


  • This dog food includes Omega 3 and 6 from sunflower oil and flaxseed to help maintain your dog’s skin and coat
  • With a single animal protein and no grains, this food is ideal for dogs that typically suffer from a sensitive stomach or itchy skin


  • Some dogs seemed to poop a lot on this diet


5. Natural Balance Dry Dog Food 

Natural Balance LID Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potato Protein
Type: Dry

The Natural Balance Dry Dog Food is made for pups with sensitive stomachs.

This grain-free formula includes venison as the only animal protein, while limited carbohydrate sources are also included to maintain a healthy digestive system. 


  • Sweet potato features as the primary carbohydrate source and is rich in potassium and easy to digest
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are included via flaxseed which helps to nourish the skin and coat
  • A riboflavin supplement in this food helps aid digestion


  • Some pet owners found their dogs didn’t enjoy this formula 


6. Rachel Ray Nutrish PEAK, Beef, Venison & Lamb Open Range Recipe

Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Open Prairie Recipe with Beef, Venison & Lamb

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Beef, Chicken Meal, Whole Dried Potato
Type: Dry

This heavy-protein Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK recipe includes meaty goodness from various animal compounds, namely beef, chicken, lamb, and venison.

It also contains healthy fats from chicken fat and menhaden fishmeal, contributing to omega 6 fatty acids for building a healthy skin and coat. 


  • The recipe includes dried peas which supply vitamin A for the optimal function of muscles and nerves
  • Calcium, Vitamin E, iron, choline, manganese proteinate, and folic acid are all included in the recipe
  • The recipe is free from gluten, grains, fillers, preservatives, color, and flavors


  • No probiotics and prebiotics are included in this formula


7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free, With Wild Salmon, Venison & Halibut 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Denali Dinner with Wild Salmon, Venison & Halibut Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal (Source Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Tapioca Starch
Type: Dry

Inspired by the diet of Alaskan wolves, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dog Food imitates raw meat with venison, salmon,six, and halibut as the primary protein sources.

It’s also packed with delicious fruits and veggies like apples, spinach, blueberries, and pumpkin. 

This diet also includes added DHA, complex carbs, a vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin A, and plenty of minerals such as thiamine mononitrate to support your dog’s overall health.


  • The fish oils included in this recipe are a great source of omega six fatty oils
  • The recipe contains no corn, wheat, soy, or poultry products or by-products


  • This dog food is not suitable for puppies younger than one year old


8. Nutro Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet, Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison Meal, Dried Potatoes, Lentils
Type: Dry

Featuring just ten ingredients, including venison, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, canola oil, and alfalfa, the Nutro Grain-Free dog food comes in several kibble sizes, so you can choose the one that’s best for your dog.

The easily digestible formula is free from any GMOs, chicken by-product meals, beef, and other common pet allergens.


  • The recipe includes optimal levels of zinc, Vitamin B vitamins, and omega-6 fatty acids for a soft and shiny coat
  • This clean recipe is locally produced in the USA


  • This dog food contains raw ingredients which can upset the stomach of some dogs


Best Wet Venison Dog Food

Goldendoodle waiting for meal
A Goldendoodle waiting for a meal with two empty bowls – Image source

Some dogs prefer the delicious taste of canned dog food. Packed with protein and delicious tasting ingredients, here are some of the best wet venison dog foods money can buy.

9. Ziwi Peak Moist Venison For Dogs

Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison, Water Sufficient for Processing, Venison Tripe, Venison Liver
Type: Wet

The Ziwki Peak Canned Dog Food features an abundance of meat ingredients including real venison meat, tripe, liver, lung, kidney, and heart.

This low-fat formula is designed to mimic the prey-based, nutrient-dense diet that your dog would eat in the wild.


  • The organ meat in this formula includes many vitamins and minerals that other dog foods traditionally lack 
  • New Zealand green-lipped mussels are included as a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine


  • Some pet owners complained that this wet food had a horrible smell


10. Zignature Venison Formula

Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Venison, Broth, Peas
Type: Wet

This simple Zignature Venison Formula includes three main ingredients: peas, venison, and broth, providing your pup with plenty of protein. Supplementary ingredients include alfalfa, chickpeas, flaxseed, and agar-agar.


  • A dry version of this venison recipe is also available so you can seamlessly switch between wet and dry food without upsetting your dog’s stomach
  • This hypoallergenic, low-glycemic food does not contain any chicken, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes
  • Packed with added compounds to support your pet’s health such as potassium chloride, sodium selenite, dicalcium phosphate, and antioxidants


  • Some pups just refused to eat this food


11. Nature’s Logic Canine Venison Feast 

Nature's Logic Canine Venison Feast All Life Stages Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison, Venison Broth, Venison Liver
Type: Wet

Containing minimal plant material, this high protein Nature’s Logic Diet also includes organ meat which provides unique minerals and vitamins to your pet. 


  • Low in carbohydrates and free from any grain or gluten, this dog food is made from 90% animal ingredients
  • Includes highly digestible natural eggshell calcium and animal plasma


  • Due to shortages, this product is often not available


12. Merrick Venison Holiday Stew 

Merrick Grain-Free Venison Holiday Stew Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Venison, Beef Broth, Turkey Broth
Type: Wet

This unique Merrick Canned Food Formula is designed to provide your pet with some variety in their diet.

Alongside venison, this stew-like food features several delicious fruits and vegetables like carrots, potatoes, red apples, and peas. Chunks of USDA-inspected duck and turkey are also included in the recipe.


  • The savory gravy made from beef and turkey broth adds delicious flavor and moisture
  • It does not contain any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or by-products


  • Some dog owners complained that this canned food was too watery


What is Venison, and Why Should You Buy Dog Food with Venison?

Venison is a traditional protein source that is the general term for deer meat. It’s much lower in fat content compared to that standard beef or lamb.

A Pug laying on a weighing scale
An overweight Pug dog laying on a weighing scale

Venison can help in reducing your dog’s cholesterol levels in addition to their food’s fat content levels. 

Therefore, this is great if your dog has issues with gaining weight or becoming more inactive as they have aged.

If your dog is incapable of tolerating common proteins like chicken and beef, switching to venison is also a great alternative.

Why should you specifically feed your dog food with Venison?

French Bulldog tongues out for meat with veggies food
French Bulldog tongues out for the yummy raw meat mix with veggies – Image source

Due to venison usually being a non-commercial meat source, there aren’t often antibiotics or growth hormones added to the protein.

Moreover, the protein comes with a high mineral and vitamin content that you would otherwise not get from traditional dog protein sources. Venison is rich in B12, B6, riboflavin and niacin, as well as iron and zinc.

Venison also provides a more gamey taste that your dog is likely to enjoy thoroughly and could ensure that picky eaters enjoy their food for more extended periods. 

Best Venison Dog Food Buyer’s Guide

Dog relieve after eating kibble food
Meet Maddie, a spoiled dog just done eating with her favorite kibble food – Image source

Before you go out and buy the first venison-based dog food you can find, there are some things you should consider. Keep reading to discover our checklist for purchasing the best venison dog food for your pup.

What should you keep in mind when considering feeding your dog Venison dog food

Here are some points to consider when buying pet food for your dog and switching over to a venison-based diet:

1. Allergies

Allergies to venison are considered rarer in dogs than chicken, beef, and lamb, although they do still occur.

Upon switching to venison, check your dog’s allergic reaction signs like itching, poor coat quality, bloating, discomfort, and biting their paws. Stop feeding your dog venison if this is the case.

Also, if your dog does suffer from allergies, it’s best to go for a limited ingredient formula as it will be easier to rule out any potentially harmful ingredients when you only have a select few to work from.

2. Age

As dogs age, their nutritional requirements vary, and you want to make sure their food satisfies their needs. They may need a higher protein content or something to support their joints.

Check if the nutrient profiles of your chosen food are suitable for dogs of all life stages or are better suited to puppies, adult dogs, or seniors.

3. Behavior

When switching food, it’s essential to keep an eye on your dog’s behavioral changes, such as decreased energy or aggression. This could likely indicate that your dog is not reacting well to the food change.

4. Protein needs

If your dog is more active or growing quickly, increased protein is essential to support this development.

Venison is lower in protein than lamb and beef, and thus you want to make sure you satisfy your dog’s protein needs, especially when they are still young. 

5. Minerals and vitamins

All good dog foods are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals that support your pet’s full-body health.

These can include Vitamin A, folic acid, biotin, manganese, calcium, taurine, choline chloride, B Vitamins, and Vitamin E supplements. Always be sure to check the crude protein content of your pet’s food.

What to avoid when shopping for Venison Dog Food

Firstly, you should ensure that there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Some manufacturers like to add artificial flavors and colors to make their food more appealing to dogs.

Finding venison that does not contain these is easier for your dog to eat and digest.

Furthermore, avoid foods packed with by-product meals or fillers, as these contain minimal nutrients and can be harder on your dog’s system.

Avoid any ingredients within the venison dog food that your dog is potentially allergic to.

To grain or not to grain: Do dogs need grain-free venison food?

You can give your dog foods containing grains if they do not have any allergies, but many dogs develop allergies and sensitivities to grains, which can result in digestive problems.

If you notice that your dog is having complications or seems uncomfortable, you may want to switch to a venison diet without grains, wheat, or soy and see whether your dog’s condition improves.

Do, however, be aware that the FDA is currently investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease in canines.

Wet, Semi-Moist, or Dry? Which Venison food is best for your dog?

Dry dog food is the most convenient and budget-friendly option for your pet.

However, not all dogs like to eat dry kibble, and sometimes it’s not even in their control due to a physical condition that rules dry kibble out of the equation, like bad teeth. 

Dry kibble can be too challenging for some dogs to eat, and that’s why semi-moist or wet venison is recommended occasionally. Wet food also often contains tasty gravy that picky eaters enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Labrador Retriever dog tongues out asking for treat
A hungry Labrador Retriever dog tongues out asking for some treat – Image source

Do you still have some questions regarding feeding your dog a venison-based diet? Let’s try and answer some of those concerns below:

Will Venison hurt a dog?

Venison will not cause any harm to your dog unless he or she is, in fact, allergic to the meat or has a very slow metabolism.

This meat from a deer is considered one of the healthiest protein sources for your dog.

Which is better for dogs, lamb or venison?

Venison is arguably better for your dog compared to lamb. Venison is significantly lower in fat than other red meats such as lamb and beef.

This can even be as extreme as venison containing five times less fat than beef and, more importantly, much less saturated fat than its counterparts. 

Lamb is fattier than venison and therefore is more suited for dogs high in activity levels or working dogs but less suitable for older or overweight dogs.

Is Venison meat an expensive dog food ingredient?

The price of a few pounds of venison from a local hunter will be much cheaper than a similar quantity from a specialist meat dealer.

The general price is hard to estimate as venison is not farmed in quite as intensive a manner as other meats.

Although this meat is not as cheap as, say, chicken and pork, it’s usually priced reasonably. Despite this, the price is believed to have increased a bit over the past few years.

Can you give homemade Venison food to your dog?

You can give homemade venison food to your dog, and this can be the most cost-effective alternative for you, especially if you’re a hunter. Dogs are meat-eaters by nature, natural, lean venison is a great source of protein.

The benefit of homemade venison is that you will know that your dog is not consuming unnecessary, harmful additives or preservatives.

Here is a great recipe to try at home for making your own venison dog food:


  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 pounds ground venison or venison chunks
  • 2 cans venison broth, 50 oz each
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 pounds corn, frozen; or three cans of corn, 16 oz
  • 3 pounds uncooked brown rice


  1. Pour enough olive oil into a pan to coat the bottom
  2. Add the venison to the pan and cook until browned all over
  3. Add the broth, water, and corn, and bring the mixture to a boil
  4. Pour in the brown rice 
  5. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for an hour, keeping it covered but stirring occasionally
  6. Once cooked, allow the dog food to cool overnight before feeding 

Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing Any New Food For Your Dog

American Bully patiently waiting for the delicious homemade meal
An American Bully patiently waiting for the delicious homemade meal – Image source

Are you ready to provide your dog with a delicious venison diet? Before you do, be sure to talk to your vet. Your vet will be best placed to advise on the proper diet according to your dog’s weight, activity levels, and health concerns. 

Also, consult with your vet regarding the exact brand you have chosen, and be sure to slowly introduce it to your dog to avoid any tummy upset.

Venison has the potential of alleviating your dog’s skin and food allergies, in addition to having antioxidants to support your dog’s coat and immune system.

Venison-based diets can be an excellent choice for pets with allergies or food sensitivities, while this lean, premium protein has a whole host of benefits. 

We would love to know if you’re already feeding venison dog food to your pet? If so, let us know in the comments below!

Further Reading: The best dog foods by flavor


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