Best Dog Food for Canine Athletes 2024

Written by Jasmine Sawatzky

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/02/2023, edited: 03/07/2024

Best Dog Food for Canine Athletes 2024 image

The Wag! team conducts independent research and consults pet experts to curate our recommendations. This content is supported by our affiliate pet partners and we may receive a commission on the links provided.


Whether a canine athlete plays sports recreationally or competitively, one thing is for sure, they need nutrition that supports their endeavors!  Active dogs that engage in 30 minutes or more of intense physical activity every day have different nutritional needs than the average adult dog. To maintain their fitness and prevent deficiencies, there are some important dietary factors you need to consider when choosing their diet. 

  • High-quality protein sources:  Active dogs should be eating food with 20-30% quality protein. Protein is essential for muscle development and repair. Make sure to choose a dog food with a quality protein source as the first ingredient. Look for real meat like chicken, beef, or fish, as they provide the necessary amino acids for optimal muscle function. 
  • Healthy fats and carbohydrates: Canine athletes require energy-dense diets. Look for foods that contain healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which support joint health and reduce inflammation. Carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables provide sustained energy. Avoid foods with excessive fillers or artificial additives, since they may not provide adequate nutrition.

  • Added supplements: Canine athletes can benefit from additional nutritional support. Look for dog foods that include beneficial supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, antioxidants for muscle recovery, or omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health.

  • Probiotics:  Probiotics can help support a healthy digestive system. Feeding your dog food that supports their gut health with probiotics and minimally processed ingredients can help them feel better in more ways than one. Gut health relates to not only physical well-being, but also mental well-being. By feeding your dog gut-healthy food, they may even be able to keep their cool a little better under pressure. 

For canine athletes, it’s worth talking to a veterinarian or canine nutritionist. They can assess your dog's specific needs and provide personalized recommendations based on factors such as breed, age, weight, and activity level. Providing your dog with the very best nutrition is a great way to thank them for the hard work they do! 

Here are our top dog food choices for canine athletes!



Overview

Raised Right Dog Food

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Vet recommended

Raised Right human-grade dog food is a furrific choice for any dog, including active dogs that need a high protein, high-quality diet.

“Raised Right offers a human-grade dog food consisting of only whole foods and no fillers or synthetic additives such as vitamin and mineral powders. Their ingredients can also be traced back to the source, and each batch is tested for safety," says Dr. Georgia Jeremiah, member of Wag!’s licensed veterinary team who personally recommends the brand to her clients. 

Working with veterinarians and pet food formulation experts to produce limited-ingredient food that still has all the vital nutrients for your doggo to stay fit and strong, Raised Right recipes have a high enough protein content to support canine athletes. 

Raised Right dog food is lightly cooked, frozen, and ready to be served fresh and gobbled up. From their website you can make a one-time purchase, or subscribe to a customized meal plan service. This brand offers several wet and dry food options for adults as well as 3 recipes for growing pups. Let's take a look at the recipe options.

Raised Right Original Adult Dog Food variations: 

  • Original Turkey 
  • Original Beef 
  • Original Pork 
  • Original Chicken 

Raised Right Paté Adult Dog Food variations: 

  • Turkey & Pumpkin PatĂ©
  • Beef & Pumpkin PatĂ©
  • Pork & Pumpkin PatĂ©
  • Chicken & Pumpkin PatĂ©

Raised Right Puppy Food variations: 

  • Beef Puppy Growth Recipe
  • Turkey Puppy Growth Recipe
  • Chicken Puppy Growth Recipe

    Raised Right Dog Food

    Raised Right Dog Food

    Why Wag! Loves It

    • Human-grade pet food made with sustainable, whole-food ingredients
    • All recipes are made with a single source of animal protein
    • Batches are individually lab-tested for safety prior to shipping
    • Traceable ingredients

    Considerations & Concerns

    • Recipes aren’t portioned according to individual calorie needs
    • More expensive compared to other dog food on the market
    • Requires freezer storage space

    What pet parents say about Raised Right

    “As Cody got older he became basically immobile. He would sleep all day and only get up to eat and drink water. After we switched his diet to Raised Right he became more active than he had been in the previous 6 months. We had hoped that by changing his food to a low carb recipe that his inflammation would be reduced, but this was beyond our expectation.”

    “This is the best food my dogs have ever had. They go crazy for it. They now are a healthy weight. Their fur and hair is soft and never mats. Poos are perfect every time. Been on it for a year. A few bags did leak a bit of “juice” but it certainly wasn’t blood as the people below would have you believe. This is a high quality product.”

    Read more reviews on Amazon.

    Image sourced from the Raised Right website. Copyright Raised Right Pets LP.




    Acana Highest Protein Dog Food

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    5
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    Best raw option

    If you’re searching for high-quality protein in a convenient kibble form, look no further than Acana Dog Food. Acana’s Highest Protein dry dog food product line has everything your fit fur baby needs to stay strong. 

    This premium, grain-free dog food has fresh or raw meat as the first three ingredients in all four recipe variations. They each contain 70% premium animal ingredients, 30% fruits, vegetables, botanicals, and other nutrients, and 0% artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

    These recipes also contain prebiotics and fiber to keep your canine’s digestion running smoothly. Every kibble is coated with freeze-dried beef, lamb, and pork for lip-smacking flavor. Acana Highest Protein recipes are a choice your dog will love. 

    Acana Highest Protein recipes:

    • Grasslands recipe 
    • Wild Atlantic recipe 
    • Meadowland recipe 
    • Appalachian Ranch recipe  
    Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food

    Acana Highest Protein Dry Dog Food

    Why Wag! Loves It

    • High in premium quality protein 
    • Coated in freeze-dried meat for added flavor
    • Avoids excessive fillers, artificial preservatives, or colors
    • Is grain-free

    Considerations & Concerns

    • More expensive compared to other dog food on the market
    • Has slightly larger kibble size that not all dogs can eat
    • May not be available at your local pet store

    What pet parents say about Acana Highest Protein dog food

    “My Lab and my [Queensland Heeler] have been on this diet exclusively for several years. They're extremely active six and five year olds and hike daily. They're trim and get frequent comments on their coats. Get it from Chewey! [Two days] from order to front door. Good job. Thanks.”

    Read more reviews on Chewy.

    Image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright Mars Incorporated. 




    The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Food

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    Best fresh food

    Just like the name implies, The Farmer's Dog fresh food has just what it takes to help your dog work hard. Fresh and personalized, this dog food subscription service delivers human-grade meals straight to your door. 

    Each meal is crafted using real, whole food ingredients such as chicken, pork, and beef, and nutritious vegetables like carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes, along with Omega 3's, ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet for your furry companion. The wholesome ingredients and high protein in this food will help keeps your pup’s muscles running smoothly. 

    The food is cooked in small batches to maintain its freshness and nutritional value. With customized portion sizes based on your dog's specific needs, The Farmer's Dog provides a convenient and hassle-free solution for feeding your dog a healthy and wholesome diet.

    The Farmer’s Dog variations:

    • Beef Recipe
    • Chicken Recipe
    • Turkey Recipe
    • Pork Recipe
    The Farmer's Dog Fresh Food

    The Farmer's Dog Fresh Food

    Why Wag! Loves It 

    • Uses fresh, human-grade ingredients in their meals
    • Customizes meals based on your dog's individual needs and preferences
    • Delivers the meals directly to your doorstep
    • Are transparent about the origin of their ingredients and their processing practices

    Considerations & Concerns

    • Can cost more than other commercial dog food brands
    • Has limited variety compared to traditional dog food brands
    • Requires freezer storage until it’s ready to serve

    What pet parents say about The Farmer’s Dog

    "This food has basically brought [our dog] back to life. [She's] much more energetic and engaged with activity in the house, and has a noticeable increase in her endurance for walks and following people around the house. [She's] always excited now for her breakfast and dinner and eats immediately, which is a change from her kibble, she used to graze like a cat. We honestly feel it has added more time to her life."

    “Prior to feeding my dogs The Farmers Dog food, [I’ve] tried everything. Seriously [I’ve] even fed my dog's homemade raw food. The Farmer's Dog is amazing. I feel confident my dogs are getting top nutrition. [I’ve] noticed my dogs have more energy, [they've] lost weight and they beg for their meals. I would highly recommend the Farmers Dog”

    Read more reviews on Better Business Bureau.

    Image of The Farmer's Dog food sourced from The Farmer's Dog website. Copyright The Farmer's Dog.




    Taste of the Wild

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    5
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    Vet recommended

    Taste of the Wild Dog Food gives canine athletes the fuel they need to tap into their wild side. This kibble is formulated to mimic the ancestral diet of dogs with a blend of high-quality, natural ingredients. Using unique and highly digestible proteins, real meat, fish, or fowl are the first ingredients. 

    Options include grain-free, grain-inclusive, and limited-ingredient dog foods. Even the ancient grains they use, like sorghum, millet, quinoa, and chia seed, are naturally high in fiber and rich in protein. Many of their recipes have a protein content of over 30%, which is plenty to keep your active dog's muscles healthy. 

    Dr. Jeremiah notes, "Taste of the Wild offers both wet and dry dog and cat foods for all life stages incorporating species-specific probiotics, antioxidants from ancient grains, fruits and seeds, and omega fatty acids.”

    All this and a high protein content makes Taste of the Wild a great option for high-performing dogs. As a plus, pet parents love the convenience of this affordable kibble that’s available in many pet stores. 

    Taste of the Wild Grain-Free dry dog food variations:

    • High Prairie Canine Recipe with Bison & Venison
    • Pacific Stream Canine Recipe with Salmon
    • Pine Forest Canine Recipe with Venison & Legumes
    • Sierra Mountain Canine Recipe with Lamb
    • Southwest Canyon Canine Recipe with Boar
    • Wetlands Canine Recipe with Fowl
    • High Prairie Puppy Recipe with Bison & Venison
    • Pacific Stream Puppy Recipe with Salmon
    • Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe with Venison & Garbanzo Beans

    Taste of the Wild Grain-Free wet dog food flavors:

    • High Prairie Recipe with Bison
    • Pacific Stream Recipe with Salmon
    • Sierra Mountain Recipe with Lamb
    • Southwest Canyon Recipe with Beef
    • Wetlands Recipe with Fowl

      Taste of the Wild Grain-Inclusive Dog Food Variations:

      • Ancient Mountain Canine Recipe with Lamb
      • Ancient Stream Canine Recipe with Salmon
      • Ancient Wetlands Canine Recipe with Fowl
      • Ancient Prairie Canine Recipe with Bison & Venison

      Taste of the Wild Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food variations:

      • Angus Beef Limited Ingredient 
      • Trout Limited Ingredient 
      • Turkey Limited Ingredient 
      Taste of the Wild Dog Food

      Taste of the Wild Dog Food

      Why Wag! Loves It

      • High-quality ingredients
      • High in protein
      • Natural and holistic
      • Wide variety of unique flavors
      • More affordable than other high-end dry dog foods

      Considerations & Concerns

      • Limited availability in stores
      • High in calories
      • History of lawsuits and recalls

      What pet parents say about Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

      "We have raised our Pitbulls on this kibble. They are happy healthy energetic and their coats shine so bright. We have fed this brand for over 14 years and have never been let down. Don't let anyone fool you, this is the best bully feed ever. High protein and fat and grain free. My pack absolutely loves the taste and eat their bowls within minutes, I wouldn't feed anything else."

      Read more reviews on Consumer Affairs.

      Image sourced from Chewy. Copyright SCHELL & KAMPETER, INC.



       

      Wellness Core 95% Wet Dog Food

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      4.5
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      Best wet food

      Wellness's Core 95% wet dog food line is a high-quality and nutritious option for your athletic canine companion. It’s a grain-free wet food that prioritizes real meat and high protein content. The name "95%" signifies that this formula is made with 95% meat, making it an excellent choice for active dogs with a carnivorous diet.

      Wellness Core 95% Wet Dog Food comes in a convenient canned form, making it easy to serve and store. This moisture-rich wet food can also give a boost of hydration for hardworking doggos.

      Wellness CORE 95% Wet dog food flavors:

      • 95% Chicken with Broccoli
      • 95% Turkey with Spinach
      • 95% Beef with Carrots

      Wellness CORE 95% Wet Dog Food

      Wellness CORE 95% Wet Dog Food

      Why Wag! Loves It

      • Made with high-quality ingredients
      • Grain-free
      • Made with limited ingredients
      • Free from artificial additives
      • Provides hydration

      Considerations & Concerns

      • Limited recipe options compared to other brands
      • Can be more expensive than dry kibble (for a list of more affordable brands, check out our budget dog food guide.)
      • Has a shorter shelf life compared to dry kibble, and once opened, it needs to be refrigerated 

      What pet parents say about Wellness Core 95%

      "We were searching for another Wellness wet food to give our lab as we phased her off Wellness puppy. After trying Wellness stew mixes and all other canned food within the brand, our dog finally devoured Core 95 Chicken & Broccoli and Turkey & Spinach! Great ingredients that keeps our pup happy, healthy and full of energy!"

      "My 2-year-old cocker spaniel/poodle has always been a picky eater & has been underweight because of this. I was a bit reluctant to buy this but I read good reviews online so I went for it. This has 95% protein in it. My dog loves this food! And she has put on more weight! Highly recommend if you’re doing is underweight."

      Read more reviews on Chewy.

      Image from Chewy. Copyright Wellness Pet Company.




      American Journey Protein & Grains Dry Dog Food

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      4.5

      American Journey Protein & Grains Dry Dog Food is a pawpular choice for active furry friendsThis food is part of their Active Life line and is made with quality animal protein and wholesome grains

      The leading ingredient is always real meat like chicken, beef, or salmon, ensuring that your dog gets the essential nutrients to support their muscles and overall health. The added grains such as brown rice and barley offer a source of energy and fiber for improved digestion and sustained energy throughout the day. 

      This dog food is crafted with natural ingredients and is free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, promoting a healthy and natural diet for your pup. With a range of flavors and formulations available, you can choose the right option to meet your dog's specific needs. 

      American Journey Protein & Grains recipe variations: 

      • Beef, Brown Rice, & Vegetables Recipe
      • Chicken, Brown Rice, & Vegetables Recipe
      • Lamb, Brown Rice, & Vegetables Recipe
      • Salmon, Brown Rice, & Vegetables Recipe

      American Journey Protein & Grains Dog Food

      American Journey Protein & Grains Dog Food

      Why Wag! Loves It

      • Made with real animal protein as the primary ingredient
      • Crafted with natural ingredients and free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors
      • Priced more competitively compared to some premium dog food brands, making it a budget-friendly option for dog owners

      Considerations & Concerns

      • Contains grains and other potential allergens
      • Variety of flavors and formulations may be somewhat limited compared to other brands
      • May not be as widely available in certain areas or retailers compared to other popular dog food brands

      What pet parents say about American Journey Active Life Formulas

      "We have 6 working dogs at our ranch. They need quality food that keeps them feeling good to do their jobs. Prior to American Journey previous kibbles disagreed with their digestive systems or the dogs refused to eat it. But now all 6 all eating well and feeling good. Thank you!"

      Read more reviews on Chewy.

      Image sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright Chewy, Inc. 

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