Best Dog Foods for Hunting Dogs 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

spaniel hunting dogBeing able to provide adequate nutrition for your hunting dog is crucial for them to perform at their best. The right food will build lean muscle, provide endurance, and protect joints and ligaments from the strain. Hunting dogs are elite athletes, and if you want your dog to be successful, then they need to be provided with the best nutrition.

Did you know that a 50-pound, active hunting dog will burn up to 2,200 calories per day? Of course, not every dog has the same dietary needs because it depends on their metabolism, weight, and how much of their energy is being used. As such, we know that it is important for you to find a dog food that is ideal for your active dog. This review list of the top six best dog foods for hunting dogs is here to help. The buyer’s guide also provides considerations to keep in mind that will help you when making your final choice.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Holistic Select Natural Dry Holistic Select Natural Dry
  • Supports digestive health
  • High in protein and fat
  • No fillers or meat by-products
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry
  • Affordable
  • Balanced nutrition
  • Prebiotics
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Purina Pro Plan Sport Grain-Free Purina Pro Plan Sport Grain-Free
  • 30% protein
  • 20% fat
  • Grain free
  • CRAVE Grain-Free Dry Adult CRAVE Grain-Free Dry Adult
  • High in protein and fat
  • Highly digestible
  • Grain free
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein
  • Real bison
  • Includes glucosamine
  • Kibble is cold-formed
  • The 6 Best Dog Foods for Hunting Dogs — Reviews 2020

    1. Holistic 22953 Select Natural Dry Dog Food — Best Overall

    Holistic 22953 Select Natural Dry Dog Food

    Holistic Select is a natural dog food formulated to support digestive health. It contains prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, natural fibers, and botanicals to provide a complete and balanced diet for your adult dog. The main ingredient is lamb meal, followed by oatmeal, peas, rice, and chicken fat.

    It has plenty of protein and fat to provide energy for your active hunting dog, including 454 kcal/cup of food. There are plenty of fruits and veggies to provide the needed vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system and antioxidant-rich superfoods to support cellular health. We like that there are no fillers, meat by-products, or artificial flavors present in this formula. It is made in the U.S.A. and backed by the Holistic Select Guarantee, which offers your money back if you aren’t satisfied with the product.

    On the downside, the kibbles are small and tend to break easily, causing there to be wasted food at the bottom of the bag.

    Pros
    • Supports digestive health
    • Complete and balanced diet
    • High in protein and fat
    • Plenty of calories for energy
    • Fruits and veggies included
    • No fillers or meat by-products
    • Money-back guarantee
    Cons
    • Kibble is small and breaks easily

    2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food — Best Value

    Rachael Ray Nutrish 1858030015

    This formula by Rachael Ray Nutrish is the best dog food for hunting dogs for the money because it offers balanced nutrition at an affordable price. The primary ingredient in this recipe is turkey and turkey meal, with a crude protein content of 26% and fat content of 8% minimum. The calorie content is 269 kcal/cup of food, which is adequate to maintain your hunting dog’s weight during the offseason when they aren’t as active or a good choice for your less-active senior hunting dog.

    The formula has prebiotics to support digestion, cranberries for the immune system, and amino acids to support a healthy weight and metabolism. What this doesn’t include is fillers, by-product meal, wheat or wheat gluten, and artificial flavors and preservatives. It does not sit in our number-one spot because this formula is not as high in protein and fat as other formulas.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Balanced nutrition
    • High protein
    • Prebiotics
    • Antioxidants
    • Amino acids
    • No fillers or by-products
    Cons
    • Lower in fat and protein

    3. Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food — Premium Choice

    Purina 38100170484 Pro Plan Dry Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan Sport is ideal for performance dogs such as hunting dogs. It is suitable for all life stages and includes chicken as the main high-quality protein, followed by dried egg. The formula is 30% protein and 20% fat to fuel metabolic needs and maintain lean muscle. It also has omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine to support joint health and mobility, as well as antioxidants to nourish the immune system and defend against free radicals.

    It contains 30% crude protein, 20% crude fat, and 541 kcal/cup of food; these numbers show that it is perfect for performance dogs who need the extra energy. This formula is also grain free for those dogs who can’t tolerate grains, and there are no added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

    On the downside, the Purina Pro Plan is a pricier product, which is why it sits at number three on our reviews list. However, it is made in the U.S.A., and Purina offers a money-back guarantee if you aren’t completely happy with this dog food.

    Pros
    • Ideal for high-performance dogs
    • 30% protein
    • 20% fat
    • A high amount of calories
    • Grain free
    • Glucosamine for joint health
    • Antioxidants included
    • No artificial colors or preservatives
    • Money-back guarantee
    Cons
    • Pricey

    4. CRAVE Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food

    CRAVE 10164802 Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food

    Crave is another grain-free choice that has a high amount of protein and fat to suit your hunting dog. The protein is derived from lamb and venison and equals 34%, with a fat content of 17%. If that isn’t enough, the metabolizable energy is 472 kcal/cup, which is plenty for active dogs to maintain their stamina.

    There are plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as chickpeas, split peas, and dried potatoes. There is no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat or soy protein, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The combination of animal and plant proteins is highly digestible, and your dog will love the flavor provided from the combination of lamb, chicken, and venison.

    There are plenty of vitamins and minerals in this recipe to provide complete and balanced nutrition. On the downside, this food is not ideal for times of low activity because it has a high number of calories, protein, and fat. It is more suitable for training or during hunting season, when your dog is the most active and needs the extra energy in the form of calories and fat.

    Pros
    • High in protein and fat
    • Quality meat and plant protein
    • Highly digestible
    • Great flavor profile
    • Balanced nutrition
    • Grain free
    • Ideal for high-energy times
    Cons
    • Not ideal for low-energy times

    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food

    Blue 800517 Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food

    This recipe by Blue Buffalo Wilderness using real bison as the main protein ingredient. It also has fish and beef meals with dried egg to increase the flavor and the amount of protein. It is ideal for dogs who have sensitivities to poultry and grain because it is free from both. The formula is appropriate for highly active adults because it has 30% crude protein and 15% crude fat at 386 kcal/per cup.

    To support immune health for your hunting dog, this food has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant-rich ingredients included in every bit, and the kibble is cold-formed to preserve potency. Glucosamine is present for healthy joints, while the precise blend of calcium, phosphorus, and other essential vitamins promotes strong bones and teeth.

    Also included in this formula are peas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, which are healthy complex carbohydrates that provide extra energy. There are also carrots, blueberries, and cranberries that deliver antioxidants for a healthy immune system. On the downside, some dogs don’t like the smaller vitamin and mineral kibble dispersed with the larger kibble.

    Pros
    • Real bison
    • High in protein and fat
    • Supports the immune system
    • Includes glucosamine
    • Kibble is cold-formed
    • Complex carbohydrates for energy
    Cons
    • Not all dogs like the small kibble

    6. VICTOR 2381 Hero Canine Dry Dog Food

    VICTOR 2381 Hero Canine Dry Dog Food

    Victor provides a formula that is ideal for adult dogs with allergies or sensitivities to grain, while remaining high in protein and fat to fuel their bodies for their active lifestyle. The crude protein equals 33% and crude fat 16%, with the primary sources being beef meal, chicken fat, and fish and blood meal. It offers 383 kcal/per cup of food.

    Victor includes four core ingredients for a well-balanced diet. These include selenium yeast for a strong immune system, mineral complexes for healthy coat and skin, and prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health.

    The food is made in Texas at a Victor-owned facility, and it meets all nutritional levels for an adult dog. The kibble is easy to chew and small in size so your hunting dog will enjoy the texture and the taste. On the downside, Victor Hero Canine is a pricier food, and there are few vegetables and no fruits used in this recipe.

    Pros
    • High-quality ingredients
    • Grain free
    • High in protein and fat
    • Supports the immune system
    • Mineral complexes
    • Prebiotics and probiotics
    • Tasty and easy to chew
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • No fruits and minimal vegetables

    Buyer’s Guide

    When you are looking for the best food to feed your hunting dog, it can seem like a daunting task. There are many things to consider before making your final decision, and that’s what this buyer’s guide is about. It’s good to learn about what constitutes great dog food for your performance dog so you can provide them with the nutrition to stay healthy and vibrant throughout their life.

    Considerations

    Activity level

    How much energy is consumed will depend upon more than one factor. Knowing your dog’s weight and activity level is a good starting point. A dog relaxing for most of the day won’t require as many calories as one out hunting in the cold weather. The colder the weather, the more calories will be needed.

    Keep in mind that your hunting dog will require a different feeding schedule when they aren’t hunting in order to maintain their physique and keep them ready for the next hunt.

    Sensitivities

    Like any human athlete, some dogs need a formula that is ideal for their food sensitivities. For instance, dogs can be sensitive to grains, poultry, poultry products, and other ingredients. It is good to know your dog and be aware of certain ingredients that can be troublesome.

    Not all dogs have sensitivities or allergens to food, and this is one area where getting your veterinarian involved is ideal so they can guide you on the best ingredients for your dog or help you figure out if they have food sensitivities — or if it is something non-food related.

    Age

    Each stage of life requires different levels of nutrients. Some formulas are suitable for all life stages, meaning that you can feed it from puppy to senior. Puppies grow fast and require plenty of nutritious food, while adult dogs still require the same nutrition but in smaller amounts. At the senior stage, most dogs aren’t as active and can develop food sensitivities, but they still need a nutritious diet to maintain overall health.

    CRAVE Grain-Free Dry Adult Dog Food
    Image: Amazon

    Important Nutrients

    • Protein: We all know proteins are the building blocks of muscle. High-quality animal and plant proteins can both play a part in providing optimal quantities of nutrients. Proteins provide a high number of calories, which a working dog needs to maintain energy levels. If your dog doesn’t receive enough protein, their body will use protein stores, which can decrease overall muscle mass.
    • Fat: Dogs use fat as an aerobic fuel source when the duration of exercise increases. Thus, fat consumption affects how well your hunting dog will perform. Fat is more energy dense and easier to digest than protein and carbohydrates. A low-fat diet for a hunting dog is not ideal, and you will find that your dog has more energy with a high-fat diet. Plus, fat helps your dog’s coat become thicker and provides more warmth when it is especially cold outside.
    • Other sources of fat that provide omega-3 fatty acids are ideal to protect cell walls, nourish skin, and protect the immune system. Common ingredients that contain fatty acids are flaxseed, fish, fish oil, and canola oil.
    • Carbohydrates: These are also a source of energy, but you want to provide complex carbohydrates for the best results. Sources from vegetables and whole grains are the best to feed to your hunting buddy. Complex carbs are a great source of fiber that is readily digestible and can help control blood sugar levels.
    • Glucosamine: Active dogs need supplements to protect their joints, bones, and tissues. Common supplements are glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin sulfate. You can start providing it at any age for protection, but these supplements also have an anti-inflammatory effect to help reduce pain, and glucosamine will help form and repair body tissues such as cartilage.
    • Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins A, B, D, K, and E, calcium, and phosphorus are essential to maintain a healthy body, so you want a dog food that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. Some brands add fruits and vegetables to get these nutrients in the food, while others rely on adding supplements.

    Ingredients to Avoid

    Try to stay away from fillers, artificial colors and preservatives, and meat by-products. These ingredients don’t provide any valuable nutrients to your dog’s diet, and some can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, or other illnesses.

    Tips for Feeding Your Hunting Dog

    • If your dog will be experiencing an intense workout, it is recommended to feed them approximately 24 hours before the hunt so their bodies have time to digest the food.
    • Provide plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. During hunting periods, you can mix water with bone broth to entice them to drink more.
    • Forego feeding your dog the morning of a hunt, or provide a light meal as early as possible.
    • Don’t feed a big meal during the day because this can cause bloating or an upset stomach.
    • Provide food at the end of the day, at least 30 minutes to one hour after the hunt.
    • Mix water with the dry kibble to increase fluid intake. This also encourages your dog to eat slower, which in turn, prevents bloating after a hard day’s work.
    • If you continue with the performance food after hunting season, you will need to decrease the number of calories fed; otherwise, your dog will gain too much weight. Others recommend switching to a food with less overall protein and fat until it is time to start training again.

    Conclusion

    Hunting dogs put in many long hours during a hunt, and their bodies need the fuel to sustain them throughout the day. A good-quality dog food will help keep your dog performing its best.

    Our top pick is Holistic Select because it is an all-natural dog food that contains high amounts of protein and fat yet remains highly digestible for active dogs. The best value is Rachael Ray Nutrish that is offered at an affordable price while providing balanced nutrition for your hunting dog. If the price isn’t a concern, the Purina Pro Plan Sport is an option that offers plenty of all-day energy for your high-performance dog.

    We hope that our reviews list helps you find the best dog food for your hunting companion so you can both enjoy the day, and you can rest assured knowing your dog has the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy and vibrant throughout the hunting season.


    Featured Image: Wolfgang Horvath from Pixabay