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Best Venison Dog Food: Wet, Canned, Dry, Grains & More

Venison is a healthy protein source for dogs that can't have more common meats. See our picks for the best venison dog food brands below.

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Venison is a great alternative protein source for dogs that can’t eat more common meats. We’ve gathered a variety of venison-based dog foods that contain higher-quality ingredients than your typical kibble, so you can feel good about what you feed your dog.

In this guide:

Best venison dog food

Our top pick!
JustFoodForDogs Frozen Fresh Dog Food, Complete Meal or Dog Food Topper, Venison & Squash Human Grade Dog Food Recipe, 18 oz (Pack of 21)
pet-plate-logo
Dry dog food
Open Farm New Zealand Venison Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, 100% Humanely Raised High-Protein Recipe with Non-GMO Superfoods and No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives, 4 lbs
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food 25lb
Raw venison
We Feed Raw logo
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Wet Dog Food 13oz, case of 12
Just Food For Dogs Venison & Squash Fresh Food
PetPlate: Lean & Mean Venison
Open Farm Grain-Free New Zealand Venison Dry Dog Food
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
We Feed Raw
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food
For dogs with allergies
If you want a grain-inclusive diet
Dry venison dog food
Limited-ingredient diet
Raw venison dog food
Canned venison dog food
Our top pick!
JustFoodForDogs Frozen Fresh Dog Food, Complete Meal or Dog Food Topper, Venison & Squash Human Grade Dog Food Recipe, 18 oz (Pack of 21)
Just Food For Dogs Venison & Squash Fresh Food
For dogs with allergies
pet-plate-logo
PetPlate: Lean & Mean Venison
If you want a grain-inclusive diet
n/a
Dry dog food
Open Farm New Zealand Venison Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, 100% Humanely Raised High-Protein Recipe with Non-GMO Superfoods and No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives, 4 lbs
Open Farm Grain-Free New Zealand Venison Dry Dog Food
Dry venison dog food
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food 25lb
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
Limited-ingredient diet
Raw venison
We Feed Raw logo
We Feed Raw
Raw venison dog food
n/a
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Wet Dog Food 13oz, case of 12
Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food
Canned venison dog food

Best venison dog food for allergies

Just Food For Dogs: Venison & Squash Fresh Food

  • Formulated with a single protein source, venison, which is easily digestible and supports a healthy metabolism
  • Gluten- and grain-free with added Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA
  • Limited ingredient recipe that is nutritionally balanced and complete for adult dogs

What we like

This fresh venison dog food recipe is ideal for adult dogs that need a novel protein to address a food allergy. This recipe will support their digestion and help them maintain healthy skin and coats. The main ingredient is USDA human-grade venison, so you know your dog is getting good-quality ingredients.

Also, JFFD has added Omega 3s for overall health. Omega 3 fatty acids can help increase good gut bacteria, decrease inflammation in the body (crucial for allergies), and bolster your dog’s immunity.

Not only is venison a great choice for dogs that need a novel protein option, but it’s really healthy, too. Venison is naturally a lean protein rich in vitamins B12 and B6. It’s also a good source of riboflavin and niacin, which support a healthy and energetic metabolism. Venison is packed with iron, which builds healthy red blood cells and boosts energy.

You learn more about the brand in our Just Food For Dogs review. If your vet has told you that your dog must have a novel protein diet, you may also want to review our list of the best novel protein dog food.

What we’d change

Because it is human-grade and served fresh, this venison recipe is more expensive than many other dog food options. Check out our guide to Just Food For Dogs prices for more info. Also, this meal is for adult maintenance only—sorry puppies.

Best venison dog food with grains

Pet Plate Lean & Mean Venison

  • Made with human-grade venison sourced from USDA farms
  • Recipe contains moderate protein levels, is grain-inclusive, and supports a low-fat diet
  • Novel protein recipe crafted in small batches for dogs with food sensitivities

What we like

We like that Pet Plate’s venison meat is human-grade and sourced from certified USDA farms. Venison is rightfully the first ingredient in this fresh meal, rather than corn, soy, or other fillers. Venison liver is further down the ingredient list and offers a host of essential vitamins and minerals.

This recipe supports healthy digestion with real fruits and vegetables, such as apples and bell peppers. This venison and potato meal contains moderate amounts of protein and grains, and it supports dogs that require a low-fat diet, as it contains just 3% fat. It meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages.

Pet Plate is a subscription service that ships the food to your doorstep. Since it’s fresh, the food is kept in the freezer and thaws in the fridge overnight. Learn all about it and watch us unbox it in our full Pet Plate dog food review.

What we’d change

PetPlate uses human-grade meat and veggies, so it is considerably more expensive than traditional pet food. You can learn more in our guide to how much Pet Plate costs.

Also, some pet owners consider potatoes to be just a filler. But even fillers offer some nutrition, and we prefer it to more common fillers, and meat makes up a high percentage of the food.

Venison dry dog food

Open Farm Grain-Free New Zealand Venison Dry Dog Food

  • 100% Animal Welfare Certified venison that is grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free from antibiotics and added growth hormones
  • Non-GMO fruits & vegetables
  • 100% traceable ingredients from certified family farms

What we like

Open Farm venison dog food is a dry kibble made with humanely raised, grass-fed venison and non-GMO vegetables. Open Farm does an excellent job ethically sourcing its ingredients, and you can learn more about it in our Open Farm dog food review.

This grain-free food is also packed with wholesome natural ingredients that support your dog’s overall health, like pumpkin, flaxseed, carrots, and sun-cured alfalfa. This kibble option is a great choice for those who need a novel protein, but don’t want to pay for fresh or wet food. This particular recipe meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages, so it can be fed to puppies, adults, or seniors.

What we’d change

While this brand practices stricter sourcing than many other kibble options, we still prefer less processed fresh ingredients.

>> Read more: Open Farm Dog Food Price

Limited-ingredient venison dog food

Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

  • Limited-ingredient recipe with venison as the first ingredient
  • Fortified with probiotics to help support gut health
  • Venison is naturally low in fat and low in cholesterol

What we like

This is a limited-ingredient recipe. Venison and venison meal make up the first two ingredients. Next in line are legumes and a few other ingredients before supplemental vitamins and minerals are added to make the recipe a complete meal for all life stages. It’s a good food for dogs on rotational diets.

Some of the other meals we’ve recommended are fresh and can only be purchased with a subscription. If that’s not your preference, and you want an easy, less expensive, shelf-stable food, then Zignature dry dog food is a good choice.

What we’d change

This recipe contains venison meal, which is more processed than whole venison meat. Meat meals are lower-quality meat protein powder derived from unspecified parts of an animal.

We’d also love to see organ meat in the ingredient list, and we’d change the legumes to a more nutrient-dense ingredient. But as we know, the more high-quality ingredients are included, the higher the price.

Raw venison dog food

We Feed Raw: Venison

  • USDA human-grade whole meats and organ meat
  • Includes bone minerals and vitamins
  • Raw, minimally processed pet food without fillers or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
  • Created by a PhD animal nutritionist to exceed AAFCO nutrition standards

What we like

If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, We Feed Raw is one of the easiest and best options. You can learn all about it in our We Feed Raw dog food review.

We Feed Raw’s venison recipe is a high protein, high fat, and low carb meal consisting of about 80% human-grade venison meat, 10% beef organ meat, 10% finely ground bone, plus added vitamins and minerals for full and proper nutrition.

The recipe is made with five simple ingredients and is ideal for dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs. Since the food contains raw deer meat, it is easy to digest, making it less likely to cause stomach issues than typical kibble.

And because there is minimal processing and no additives to cause inflammation, your dog could experience dramatic health improvements, such as less joint pain or digestive woes, just a week or two after fully transitioning to this food.

We Feed Raw adheres to strict food safety procedures that use a cold-pressure process to eliminate any problematic pathogens in the meat. This recipe meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages, so it can be fed to all dogs.

What we’d change

We Feed Raw uses premium ingredients, and, therefore, will cost more than low-quality dog food made with cheap ingredients. Learn more in our breakdown of how much We Feed Raw costs.

While this is a venison based dog food, this recipe is not ideal for dogs with allergies to beef, since it contains a small amount of beef organ meat.

And remember, if your dog doesn’t currently eat a raw diet, you should transition slowly to avoid digestive upset.

Canned venison dog food

Zignature Venison Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food

  • Limited-ingredient recipe with high-quality venison as the first ingredient
  • Grain-free formula for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies
  • Low in fat content and cholesterol

What we like

This is a limited-ingredient recipe. Venison, broth, peas, and a few other ingredients are mixed to form a pâté texture that should please dogs that like red meat. Nutrient supplements are added to make the recipe complete and balanced for all life stages, including puppies.

This recipe is ideal for dogs that need a low glycemic, grain- and gluten-free diet. It’s also free of corn, soy, and wheat. It’s a limited-ingredient recipe that supports dogs that may have sensitivities or allergies to certain common foods. Canned wet food is also important for dogs with dental decay, since they may have trouble chewing kibble.

What we’d change

Since this recipe has limited ingredients, much of the nutritional composition comes from supplemental vitamins and minerals rather than from the main ingredients themselves.

And even though this is a canned recipe, it’s still not inexpensive compared to lower-quality dog kibble. It’s possible that a less processed, fresh food like Pet Plate (above), may be better quality at a similar price.

Freeze-dried raw venison dog food

Stella & Chewy Freeze Dried Raw Venison Dinner Patties

  • The first 3 ingredients are grass-fed venison and venison organ meats
  • Made with organic fruits and vegetables
  • Ingredients are sourced from trusted farms and made in small batches in their USA kitchens

What we like

We’ve fed our dog, Hobbes, Stella & Chewy, and we think the brand has a lot to offer. We like that this diet consists mostly of raw venison: 85% venison and organ meat. The rest is made with 100% organic-certified fruits and vegetables, a few other nutrient-rich foods, and supplemental vitamins and minerals to ensure it’s appropriately balanced and complete.

The high protein and fat content makes it appropriate for all life stages, from puppies to seniors. It’s free from grains, fillers, antibiotics, and hormones, and every batch is 3rd-party tested for pathogens.

Although this is raw food, it’s freeze-dried and does not require refrigeration. The portions are divided into patties, so it’s easy to measure portions for different dogs. To serve, rehydrate it by adding warm water, which will also make picky dogs more interested in eating it.

What we’d change

The cost of this high-quality food is more expensive than the average dog food. Also, we’d prefer a less processed raw venison dog food such as We Feed Raw, above.

Venison air-dried dog food

Ziwi Peak Venison Air-Dried dog food

  • Consists of 96% venison meat, organs, bone, and green mussels for added Omega 3’s
  • Free-range, grass-fed, venison ethically sourced from New Zealand
  • Nutritionally appropriate for puppies, adults, and senior dogs.

What we like

We love the simplicity of this recipe. It contains 96% venison meat, organs, bones, and green mussels, so it’s loaded with protein (44%) and healthy fat content (24%). This combo keeps adult dogs active and puppies developing on schedule. Ziwi has also added chondroitin and glucosamine to keep young and old joints healthy and resistant to joint tissue breakdown.

This easy-to-pour dry food is shelf-stable and great for dogs with allergies to traditional meats. The ingredients are gently air-dried to preserve nutrients instead of being extruded at a high temperature like kibble.

What we’d change

Even though this is a dry food, it’s still more expensive than traditional kibble because Ziwi contains higher quality ingredients and is prepared in a way that preserves more essential nutrients.

Is there venison puppy food?

We haven’t found a good venison dog food made specifically for puppies. However, the majority of the meals we recommend above are suitable for all life stages, which means puppies all the way to seniors.

In fact, only one of our recommended venison dog foods is strictly for adult dogs: Just Food For Dogs Venison & Squash recipe. The others are acceptable choices for your puppy. Personally, we’d choose a higher protein diet with more fat for our puppy, such as We Feed Raw, Stella & Chewy, or Ziwi Peak.

Remember, puppies need more food pound-for-pound than adults, so make sure you look for the brand’s feeding guide for puppies.

Why feed your pet dog food with deer meat?

You may want dog food with deer meat because of your dog’s allergies, health concerns, or just because they like it.

Allergies

Dogs that have experienced allergic reactions to common meats like beef or chicken may find relief when choosing a novel protein, such as venison. However, our research has taught us that unless the underlying gut issue is resolved, the animal may eventually experience symptoms with the novel protein as well.

If your dog has chronic IBD or IBS, work with your veterinarian to find a healthy dog food that eliminates ingredients prone to cause allergic reactions and digestive upset. These could really be any ingredients your pet is sensitive to, but poultry, grains, soy, cornmeal, and artificial flavors are frequent culprits. These are typically found in low-quality dry dog food.

A diet of real, professionally prepared food, such as fresh or raw food, can reduce or eliminate problematic reactions with time. A homemade diet may be necessary in extreme cases, but we don’t recommend it due to the risk of human error or deviating from your dog’s nutritional needs over time. If you must make your own, see the section on homemade dog food below.

>> Read more: Best Dog Food for IBD or IBS

Health reasons

Venison is healthy for dogs. It’s leaner than beef and has about half the calories and much less saturated fat content.

Now remember, fat is not necessarily bad; it’s actually essential. However, some dogs, such as those with colitis, need a lower-fat diet, and venison might be the answer for those dogs.

>> Read more: Best Dog Food for Colitis

Compared to beef, venison has more vitamins and minerals per serving. It’s also richer in iron, vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin. The only area that beef outshines venison is cholesterol. Venison has 95 mg of cholesterol while beef contains 76 mg, which may not necessarily be a negative; it just depends on your dog’s specific needs.

Dogs find it delicious!

Many dogs love the flavor of venison, including our picky Yorkie, Max, who often turns his nose up at new dog food. Venison is red meat like beef, so if your dog likes beef, they’ll probably love venison, too.

The downsides of venison for dogs

There are a few negatives when it comes to venison for dogs. Since it’s not a popular source of protein for dog food, it can be harder to find and there are fewer choices to choose from. The difficulty is the same when it comes to dog treats.

Additionally, venison tends to be more expensive than more common proteins.

Finally, it can be a challenge to find locally sourced venison for dogs. However, in our experience, most brands import their venison from New Zealand, which has stronger and more transparent food regulations than some other parts of the world.

Where to buy venison for dogs

You can buy venison dog food directly from online brands, such as Just Food for Dogs, Pet Plate, or Open Farm. You may also find dog food with deer meat at boutique pet stores, at online shops that ship raw meat for human consumption (ex: Honest Bison), or large pet stores like Petco or Chewy.

Homemade dog food with venison

In rare cases, dogs may have advanced dietary restrictions that make it nearly impossible to find a commercial dog food that doesn’t include at least one irritant.

In these situations, a homemade diet may be your best option. However, unless you’re a trained pet nutritionist, it can be difficult to make sure you’re providing all of your dog’s essential nutrients.

Just Food For Dogs created a DIY Venison & Squash Nutrient Kit that contains supplemental vitamins and minerals to ensure dogs fed homemade food get all the right nutrients to stay healthy. It’s perfect for long-term homemade feeding of adult dogs.

While Just Food For Dogs carries several nutrient blends, this particular blend replicates their Venison and Squash fresh food recipe. The nutrient blend comes with a cooking guide that instructs you on the ingredients you’ll need to purchase from the grocery store and how much of each you’ll need. And if this seems like too much work, you can always have Just Food For Dogs make it and ship it to your door!

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