There are many reasons you might be looking for dog food made with an alternative protein source — such as venison dog food — or maybe your pet suffers from food allergies, or perhaps they’re just picky about what flavors they prefer. No matter the reason, venison (a term for deer meat) is one of the most popular alternative proteins available today. 

Because this lean red meat is a popular choice for dog food, there are a variety of high-quality venison dog foods to choose from, including dried kibble, wet food, and even fresh and raw formulas. The following is everything you need to know to select the best venison dog food for your pet. 

Best Venison Dog Food: Our Top Picks

How We Chose Our Selections

We considered the following factors when curating our best venison dog food selections:

Formulation. We paid close attention to each food’s formula, ensuring each formula contained venison as one of the first ingredients along with nutritional content clearly detailed.

Reviews. We explored what other pet parents were saying about each option.

Price. While some of the selections on our list are a bit pricier, we curated a listing of venison dog food to fit most any budget.

Best Venison Dog Food: 8 Top Picks

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Vetstreet may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you’re looking for venison-based food for your dog, the following are several of the best formulas to consider, including kibble and canned options. 

Best Overall Venison Dog Food

Our Pick: Purina ONE True Instinct Turkey and Venison Dry Dog Food

Purina is known for its high-quality dog foods, and it’s one of the most commonly recommended brands by veterinarians. The Purina ONE True Instinct Turkey and Venison Dry Dog Food is a top choice if you’re looking for dry dog food that’s high in protein and easy to store. 

This food uses a mixture of turkey and venison as its protein source, and it’s made up of 30% protein to support strong muscles and an active lifestyle. The formula is also made with four antioxidant sources to boost your dog’s immune system, and it contains tender “meaty morsels” mixed into the kibble to create a more appealing texture for your dog. 

Highlights

  • Veterinarian-recommended brand
  • High-protein formula is beneficial for active dogs
  • Easy-to-store dry kibble
  • No fillers or poultry by-products
  • Four sources of antioxidants for a healthy immune system

Things to Consider

  • It contains more turkey than venison

Best Canned Venison Mix Dog Food

Our Pick: Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials Beef & Venison Wet Dog Food

If your dog is a picky eater, the Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials Beef & Venison Wet Dog Food has a highly appealing flavor and texture that will encourage them to eat. The wet paté-style food  Made with a mixture of beef, venison, and chicken, this wet paté-style food and the grain-free formula is free from any corn, wheat, or soy. The food comes in 13-ounce cans, and it contains ​​23 essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your pet’s immune system healthy and support their skin and coat.

Highlights

  • Includes beef, venison, and chicken for protein
  • Highly appealing flavor for picky eaters
  • Contains 23 essential vitamins and nutrients
  • Grain-free formula

Things to Consider

  • Larger dogs will need multiple cans per day
  • Contains conventional protein sources in addition to venison

Best Potato and Venison Dog Food

Our Pick: NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food

venison dog food nutro

The NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food is a good option if you suspect your dog may have food sensitivities to common protein sources, as it’s free from any chicken or beef products. This dry food includes venison meal as the first ingredient, and because it’s a limited ingredient formula, there are ten key ingredients or less. It doesn’t contain any grains or GMOs, and it has round, crunchy kibble pieces that even picky eaters will enjoy. 

Highlights

  • Tailored to adult dogs who may have food sensitivities 
  • Venison meal is the first ingredient
  • Free from any chicken and beef products
  • Limited-ingredient diet has less than ten ingredients 
  • Grain-free and non-GMO formula

Things to Consider

  • Higher price point than others on the list

Best Limited Ingredient Venison Dog Food

Our Pick: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Dry Dog Food

venison dog food kibble

This sweet potato and venison formula from Natural Balance is another limited-ingredient diet, and it’s slightly more affordable than other similar dry foods. It contains a single protein source, which means there are no chicken or beef products in it. The food food is made with real venison instead of protein meal. The dry kibble is easy to store and doesn’t contain grain, soy, gluten, artificial colors or flavors, but if you’ve used this food in the past, keep in mind that the formula was recently changed, which could upset some dogs’ tummies.. 

Highlights

  • Made with real venison, not meal 
  • Single protein source 
  • Grain-free formula
  • Contains salmon oil to support healthy skin and coat

Things to Consider

  • The formula was recently changed, which may cause issues with some dogs

Best Fresh Venison Dog Food

Our Pick: JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Venison & Squash Frozen Dog Food

Fresh dog food is an increasingly popular option among pet owners. JustFoodForDogs offers a venison and squash recipe that may benefit picky eaters or dogs with food sensitivities. The formula contains a single protein source—no beef or chicken—and the fresh ingredients are lightly cooked to retain their nutrients. 

In addition to venison, the food contains jewel sweet potatoes, cranberries, and Brussels sprouts, and it has a tasty flavor that’s a hit with most dogs, including picky eaters. This food comes in 18-ounce packages and ships frozen, making it easy to store until you’re ready to use it. 

Highlights

  • Single protein source
  • Lightly cooked fresh formula
  • USDA-inspected and -approved ingredients
  • Appealing texture and flavor for picky eaters
  • Ships frozen for easy storage

Things to Consider

  • More expensive than traditional dog foods

Best Raw Venison Dog Food

Our Pick: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Venison Dinner Patties

venison dog food raw patties

If you’re looking for raw dog food made with venison, the Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Venison Dinner Patties are a top choice. They’re made from a combination of venison and lamb, and the formula is 95% raw meat, organs, and bone. These ingredients are supplemented with organic fruits and vegetables for antioxidants and nutrients, and the convenient frozen patties are free of any grains and fillers. 

You can either feed these patties to your dog frozen or rehydrate them with water for a more conventional wet food texture. Remember that if you feed your dog solely with this food, larger breeds will need 10+ patties daily, so you’ll go through each package quickly. 

Highlights

  • Made of 95% venison, lamb, organs, and bone
  • Convenient frozen patty form
  • Includes organic fruits and vegetables for added nutrients
  • The high-protein formula supports active dogs

Things to Consider

  • Large dogs require several patties per day unless given supplementary food

Best Venison Dog Food Canned

Our Pick: ZIWI Peak Venison Recipe Grain-Free Wet Dog Food

venison dog food canned

The ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Venison canned food can be used as a tasty meal topper, helping to convince picky dogs to eat their regular food. This wet formula’s first ingredient is venison, followed by tasty venison tripe, chickpeas, and venison lung. Ideal for all life stages, including puppies and seniors —not to mention it has a great smell that dogs will love! 

The ZIWI food can also be used as a complete and balanced meal for your dog or mixed with their kibble. It is low in carbohydrates and free of things like grains, potatoes, and tapioca starch.

Highlights

  • A 10% Z-Boost superfood blend of cold-washed green tripe, whole New Zealand Green Mussels, and organic kelp
  • Main protein is lamb
  • Free from less-digestible plant proteins
  • It can be used as a food topper or a complete meal
  • Designed for all life stages

Things to Consider

  • A bit on the costly side

Best Venison Dog Food for Allergies

Our Pick: Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Food Sensitivities Potato & Venison Dry Dog Food

venison dog food

Suppose your dog has allergies or food sensitivities. You should talk to your veterinarian about switching to a food like  Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Food Sensitivities Potato & Venison Dry Dog Food. Specially formulated for dogs with food sensitivities or skin problems, this dry food requires a prescription. It features a limited ingredient list with just venison as the protein source, and the kibble also contains high levels of omega-3s to promote skin and coat health. 

Highlights

  • Prescription diet
  • Specially formulated to support your dog’s skin and food sensitivities 
  • Limited ingredient formula with single animal protein 
  • High levels of Omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat health

Things to Consider

  • More expensive than other dry dog foods

Venison Dog Food FAQs

Can Dogs Eat Venison?

“Venison is used in a variety of pet foods and is generally considered safe for pets as long as the overall diet follows AAFCO guidelines and is being fed for the appropriate life stage,” explains Dr. Richard Walther, DVM. “Many pets have preferences when it comes to taste and palatability, and using alternative protein sources like venison can sometimes help enhance those aspects of the food.”

Is Venison Good For Dogs With Allergies?

If your dog suffers from allergies, your vet may want to try feeding them an alternative protein source. “Venison can be used in what is called a ‘novel protein diet trial’ at the direction of your veterinarian to rule out food allergies if your pet has never had a food with venison in it before,” says Dr. Walther. “Consult your veterinarian to determine if trying a venison-based food could be helpful in ruling out food allergy.”

What Is Venison Meal in Dog Food?

You may see that many dog foods list “venison meal” as one of their key ingredients. Meal is a powdered ingredient that’s made from ground meat, as well as animal flesh, skin, and bone, that’s been cooked and ground up. This ingredient may be beneficial to your pet, as it’s a more highly concentrated source of protein than whole meat. 

Venison Dog Food Buying Guide

AAFCO Statement

“When selecting any pet food, general recommendations include reading the AAFCO statement to make sure it is appropriate for the pet’s life stage,” recommends Dr. Walther. This statement, found on the back of the pet food package, will indicate whether the formula is a complete and balanced source of nutrition for your dog. It will also show which life stages the food is appropriate for—some foods are meant for all dogs, with others for puppies, adults, or even pregnant dogs/lactating mothers. 

Protein Source(s)

Many venison dog foods contain a secondary protein source, such as turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb. Though this may not be an issue for picky eaters, dogs with food sensitivity may want to avoid these. Instead, you’ll want to find a formula that uses venison as the sole source of protein. 

Food Type

Venison dog foods come in various formulas, including dry, wet/canned, fresh, raw, and air-dried options. Dry food, also called kibble, tends to be the most budget-friendly and easiest to store, as it’s shelf-stable. Canned food stores easily, and some dogs may enjoy the moist texture better. Additionally, wet dog food contains higher levels of moisture, which can benefit dogs with trouble staying hydrated. 

Fresh and raw foods have recently become popular, as many pet owners like feeding minimally processed diets. However, remember that these foods are often significantly more expensive and have special storage and serving requirements, making them less convenient. 

Cost

Because deer meat is considered a novel—or unconventional—protein source in dog food, many venison formulas are more expensive than your average kibble or canned food. When selecting a food, consider the product’s cost and whether it’s within your budget, as specific specialty diets may cost hundreds of dollars per month.