Venison isn’t an especially common protein used in dog foods, but it probably should be!
Not only do some dogs go nuts for deer meat, but it is also a nutritious and often-novel protein, which can be very helpful when dealing with a doggo with food allergies.
Below, we’ll explain a few of the reasons venison dog foods deserve consideration, explain some of the things you’ll want to think about when picking a deer-based food, and identify seven of our favorites.
Best Venison Dog Food Brands: Quick Picks
- #1 American Journey LID Venison and Sweet Potato [Best LID Venison-Only Dog Food]: A great choice for dogs who have food allergies to chicken or other common proteins, this kibble provides a tasty, nutritious way to keep you four-footer fed.
- #2 Nutro Natural Choice [Best Grain-Inclusive Venison Food]: Although it contains chicken, which means it’s not ideal for dogs with some food allergies, this is one of the few grain-inclusive recipes with venison. Accordingly, it’s great for dogs who simply like the taste of deer.
- #3 Natural Balance [Best Canned Venison Food]: Venison-flavored wet foods can be hard to come by, but Natural Balance provides this nutritious and delicious option for your furry friend.
Why Venison for Dogs?
Venison is a great source of premium quality protein for your dog. And in many ways, it’s just as good a selection as any of the more common options.
But there are two specific reasons many owners opt for deer-based foods:
- Their dog has food allergies or intolerances. Venison is considered a novel protein source, so it’s less likely that your dog may have an adverse reaction to it as opposed to a commonplace protein like chicken or beef.
- Their furry friend loves the taste! Many pooch parents note that their dogs love the taste of venison dog food, which leads them to make the switch. After all, our canine companions deserve a food they’re excited about eating.
Note that while some owners may opt for venison in pursuit of an eco-friendly dog food, it isn’t clear that farmed venison (rather than wild-harvested venison) provides any environmental benefits over beef or other proteins.
Venison dog food might make an amazing pick for your furry friend, but there isn’t conclusive evidence that it’s any more environmentally-friendly than more mainstream protein choices.
The Seven Best Venison Dog Foods
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite venison dog foods for your four-footer. Hopefully, your dog will find these foods just as endeering!
(Get it? EnDEERing? Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
1. American Journey LID Venison & Sweet Potato
About: If your pooch has a sensitive stomach, this limited-ingredient dog food from American Journey may make an excellent pick. A Chewy/Petsmart exclusive, this food features venison as the single protein source, and it is packed with Omega-3s.
American Journey LID Venison & Sweet Potato
A single-protein kibble, made without corn, wheat or soy, and designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Features both deboned venison and venison meal to provide plenty of protein
- Venison is the sole protein source (contains no chicken meal, like some other options)
- Fiber-rich recipe with sweet potatoes and omega 3s
- Made without corn, wheat, grain, or soy
- Designed for dogs with food sensitivities
Deboned Venison, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Chickpeas, Venison Meal...,
Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Canola Meal, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch, Pea Protein, Sunflower Oil, Fish Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), DL-Methionine, L-Threonine, Taurine, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), L-Tryptophan, Rosemary Extract.
- This food is designed for dogs with food sensitivities and comes at an attractive price point.
- Most dogs seem to love the taste of this venison kibble.
- Some owners saw improvement in their dog’s skin sensitivities after switching to this limited ingredient food.
- As referenced earlier, this is a grain-free food, which some owners may wish to avoid in light of the correlation between DCM and grain-free diets.
- A handful of dogs weren’t interested in this food.
- It’s only available via Chewy or PetSmart.
2. Nutro Natural Choice
About: While Nutro Natural Choice Venison Recipe isn’t a single-protein kibble (and it relies on venison meal rather than whole venison), it has a number of other things going for it. For example, it not only tastes great, but it also includes grains, plenty of omega-3s, and antioxidants to keep your furry friend feeling his best.
Nutro Natural Choice Venison Recipe
A deer-and-chicken meal kibble made with whole grains, antioxidants, and plenty of fiber for Fido.
- Venison meal is the number one ingredient
- Made in the USA dog food with globally-sourced ingredients
- Whole grain kibble made without corn, wheat, or soy
- Great source of fiber and antioxidants
- Added omega-3s to support a healthy coat
Venison Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Split Peas, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum...,
Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Natural Flavor, Whole Flaxseed, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Kale, Dried Spinach, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
- Many dogs absolutely love the taste of this kibble.
- Standard-sized kibbles were well-loved by pint-sized pups and large dogs alike.
- Owners appreciated the nutrient-rich kibble recipe with fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s.
- This venison dog food is not a single-protein recipe — it also contains chicken meal.
- Some dogs with sensitive stomachs didn’t tolerate this food well.
3. Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
About: Deer-flavored wet foods can be hard to come by, but this grain-free, venison-based option by Natural Balance fits the bill. The canned canine food contains fiber-rich sweet potatoes and is designed to support a healthy coat for your four-footed companion.
Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato & Venison
Grain-free whole venison wet food with fiber-rich ingredients supporting digestive health.
- Fiber-rich recipe packed with nutritious sweet potatoes
- Made in the USA wet food is grain-free
- Designed to support a healthy coat with added salmon oil
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Wet food has added vitamins and minerals
Sweet Potatoes, Venison Broth, Venison, Potatoes, Potato Protein...,
Dehydrated Potatoes, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Salmon Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, D-Calcium Panthothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid), Venison Meal, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Rosemary Extract.
- Dogs seem to love this wet food on its own or as a tasty kibble topper.
- Fiber-rich food helps support digestive health.
- Owners appreciated this food’s relatively affordable price.
- Wet food can be difficult to portion out, especially if you have a smaller-sized furry friend.
- Some dogs didn’t like the consistency of this wet food.
- Like many (if not most) canned foods, this is a grain-free recipe.
About: A venison dog food from New Zealand, Ziwi is sustainably sourced from free-range farms committed to grass-fed meat. The premium dry food is made without grain, rice, soy, or potatoes and has added natural joint supplements to keep your furry friend feeling his best.
Ziwi Venison Dog Food
A sustainably-sourced kibble featuring whole venison and the natural joint supplements chondroitin and glucosamine.
- Whole venison is the the first ingredient
- Sustainably sourced from farms in New Zealand
- Good source of chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs with joint issues
- Protein-packed kibble with fresh meat and seafood
- Grain-free food is made without grain, rice ,soy, or potatoes
Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver...,
Venison Kidney, New Zealand Green Mussel, Venison Bone, Lecithin, Inulin from Chicory, Dried Kelp, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Selenium Yeast), Salt, Parsley, Preservative (Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid).
- Dogs seem to love the unique texture of this dry food which can double as a treat or topper.
- Owners were impressed with the company’s customer service and loved seeing their dogs go bananas over mealtime.
- This food is great for dogs with joint issues with natural chondroitin and glucosamine supplements.
- This food can be very expensive for pooch parents, but many found the high-quality dog food well-worth the price.
- Some dogs may prefer a more familiar kibble-like dry food option.
- Although it may be a selling point to some owners, this is a grain-free food.
5. Natural Balance
About: This nutritious kibble from Natural Balance is made with whole venison to keep Spot satisfied. The single-source protein dog food is great for furry friends with sensitive stomachs, and it is made with fiber-rich ingredients and nutritious salmon oil.
Natural Balance Venison Dog Food
A limited ingredient, grain-free dog food made with whole venison and fiber-rich sweet potatoes.
- Grain-free dog food made without artificial colors or preservatives
- Dog food is made with whole venison
- Added vitamins and minerals support a healthy coat
- Fiber-rich ingredients to support digestive health
- Small, medium, and large-sized bags available to suit your furry friend’s needs
Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)...,
Brewers Dried Yeast, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Dried Potato Products, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Dl-methionine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-calcium Pantothenate,vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
- Some owners saw improvements in their dog’s GI process after switching to this new dog food.
- This food is great for pups with sensitive stomachs.
- Dogs big and small seem to enjoy the taste of this venison food.
- Meat is not the first ingredient.
- While a very small number of dogs may require a grain-free meal, most dogs should probably be fed a grain-inclusive option.
6. Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties
About: These freeze-dried raw venison patties from Stella & Chewy’s are sure to peak your pup’s interest with their delicious and nutrient-rich recipe. Stella and Chewy’s makes their patties in the USA with minimally processed foods. The patties can be used as a topper or treat, though they can be served on their own as well.
Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties
Freeze-dried, US-made dinner patties that can be served on their own or as supplemental topper or treat.
- Whole venison is the first ingredient
- Patties are packed with probiotics to support proper digestion
- Made in the USA patties are grain-free
- To serve, patties are rehydrated with a little bit of lukewarm water
- Freeze-dried food has added taurine and vitamins
Venison, lamb, lamb liver, venison liver, venison lung...,
lamb kidney, lamb spleen, lamb heart, venison bone, olive oil, pumpkin seed, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic beets, organic carrots, organic squash, organic blueberries, fenugreek seed, potassium chloride, dried kelp, tocopherols (preservative), sodium phosphate, choline chloride, dried pediococcus acidilactici fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium longum fermentation product, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, taurine, calcium carbonate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, niacin supplement , d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, salt, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid.
- Stella and Chewy’s makes their food in their own kitchens in the USA.
- Dogs absolutely adore the taste of these protein-packed patties.
- Freeze-dried patties have added vitamins and probiotics.
- Freeze-dried patties can get expensive for owners with big best buddies.
- Patties have both venison and lamb meat which isn’t ideal for owners seeking out a single-protein source food.
- Like most other venison-based recipes, this is a grain-free food.
7. Hill’s Skin/Food Sensitivities Venison Recipe
About: If your furry friend suffers from food sensitivities, it may be worth going with a prescription food with venison protein, like this kibble from Hill’s. You’ll need a prescription from your vet for this food, but it is specifically designed to avoid triggering irritating food allergies and intolerances.
Hill’s Skin/Food Sensitivities Venison Recipe
A prescription dog food with whole venison and pork that’s perfect for pups suffering from allergies or food sensitivities.
- Food is formulated by Hill’s staff veterinarians and nutritionists
- Kibble has added vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids
- Made without grain or soy
- Designed for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies
- Made in the USA dry food
Potatoes, Potato Starch, Venison, Potato Protein, Pork Fat...,
Soybean Oil, Pork Flavor, Lactic Acid, Dicalcium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Venison Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), DL-Methionine, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Tryptophan, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene.
- Owners were happy to see improvement in their dog’s allergy-related symptoms after switching to this dog food.
- Dogs with sensitive stomachs responded well to this kibble.
- Plenty of furry friends enjoyed this prescription dog food.
- It’s important to note that prescription dog foods will require pre-approval from your veterinarian, though sites like Amazon and Chewy make this extra step a breeze.
- Meat is not the first ingredient of this dry food.
- This is yet another grain-free venison dog food.
Picking a Venison Dog Food: Things to Think About
It’s important to keep a couple of essential factors in mind when picking out the perfect meal for your mutt. Most modern venison dog foods will work well for most furry friends so long as:
- You select the food in collaboration with your veterinarian.
- You pick a food that’s designed to address any of your dog’s individual ailments.
- The food is formulated to meet the AAFCO guidelines for your dog’s life stage.
These three golden rules will help ensure that your deserving doggo is getting the nutrients he needs to keep his tail wagging. With that in mind, there certainly are some food choices that are better than others.
So, it’s also a good idea to prioritize dog foods that check the following boxes:
- The brand performs regular safety checks and operates their own kitchens. One of the key signs of a reputable dog food brand is that the company employs a credentialed veterinary nutritionist. Your brand of choice should also perform regular safety checks and, ideally, own the kitchens in which the food is made. Brands meeting these criteria have more control over the quality and safety of their dog foods.
- The food is manufactured in a Western country. Western countries impose stricter safety regulations which generally lead to higher quality dog foods. It’s especially great if your dog food brand of choice utilizes ingredients sourced from Western countries too.
- The brand cooks or pasteurizes proteins thoroughly. Raw meats often contain bacteria and other microorganisms that can be harmful to you and your pooch. Brands that fully cook or pasteurize the proteins in their foods help mitigate this risk.
- The food features a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list. High-quality dog foods tend to list meat at the top of the ingredient list, as opposed to a carbohydrate like corn.
- The food contains helpful supplements. Ideally, your food of choice should contain supplements well-suited for your pup’s individual needs. This could include joint supplements, probiotics, or Omega-3 fatty acids.
Do you have any recommendations for the best venison dog foods? Share your top picks in the comments!
For more tips on doggy dinner time, check out our post on the best food dispensing dog toys (to slow down hungry eaters).