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.
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
|Best Budget Venison Dog Food||Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct
|Best Dry Venison Dog Food||Taste of The Wild Pine Forest
|Best Wet Venison Dog Food||Ziwi Peak Moist Venison For Dogs
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
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
Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Turkey (Source of Glucosamine), Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flour
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oatmeal
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
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Venison, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potato Protein
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Beef, Chicken Meal, Whole Dried Potato
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal (Source Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Tapioca Starch
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison Meal, Dried Potatoes, Lentils
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
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison, Water Sufficient for Processing, Venison Tripe, Venison Liver
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
Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Venison, Broth, Peas
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Venison, Venison Broth, Venison Liver
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
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Venison, Beef Broth, Turkey Broth
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.
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?
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
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:
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.
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.
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)
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
- Pour enough olive oil into a pan to coat the bottom
- Add the venison to the pan and cook until browned all over
- Add the broth, water, and corn, and bring the mixture to a boil
- Pour in the brown rice
- Cover the pan and allow to simmer for an hour, keeping it covered but stirring occasionally
- Once cooked, allow the dog food to cool overnight before feeding
Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing Any New Food For Your Dog
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
- Best Lamb and Rice Dog Food
- Best Salmon Dog Food
- Best Kangaroo Dog Food
- Best Chicken Free Dog Food
- Best Rabbit Dog Food
- Best Green Tripe for Dogs