Best Foods for Hunting Dogs – Nutrition & Diet Tips

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Most of our feeding guides on this site are about specific breeds and their dietary requirements, but with this article, we’re going to do something a little different. Hunting dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common – a very active lifestyle. All this extra activity and energy expenditure brings with it a different set of nutritional requirements compared to what a standard pet would need.

With that in mind today we are going to provide you with a general overview of what you should (and shouldn’t) be feeding a hunting dog compared to a traditional pet of the same breed. We’ll discuss nutrients, quantities, and schedules before finishing off with several food recommendations perfect for hunting dogs.

Let’s get started.

What To Look For In A Good Hunting Dog Food


Compared to traditional pets, hunting dogs obviously expend much more energy. Due to this, they need to consume more calories than normal. If your dog is going to be hunting with you reasonably regularly it’s often a good idea to ensure you’re feeding them high energy, high-calorie foods. Otherwise, they’re going to need to eat huge portions, which could be an issue for some breeds.


Fat is the best energy source for endurance in hunting dogs. This can sound a little strange to us humans who are familiar with associating carbohydrates and long-lasting, slow-burning energy. However, dogs metabolize carbohydrates and fat in a different way to humans (as they’re strictly carnivores genetically). Providing your pooch with a diet rich in fat will help them perform stronger for longer.


Carrying on nicely from the point above we want to mention a little bit about carbohydrates.

They’re not bad for a hunting dog, and there’s nothing wrong with some complex carbs in a balanced diet. It’s all to do with blood sugar spikes (and dips) and to be honest, it’s incredibly dry reading – so we’re not going to get all technical on you. Just try and get a food that contains brown rice or sweet potato as a carbohydrate source, and avoid grains wherever possible.

Best Foods For A Hunting Dog

American Journey Salmon and Sweet Potato Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Grain free
  • Digestible
  • Great for pets with food sensitivities
  • DHA and omega fatty acids
Why You Should Buy

American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a popular choice amongst dog owners. It features sweet potatoes as a digestible carb and salmon as the main protein source. It’s great for dogs with food sensitivities.

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So now we know what you should be feeding (and how often you should be feeding) your hunting dog. Below we’re going to recommend several excellent foods geared towards the needs of an active hunting dog.

The first product we’re going to recommend is a little bit of a legend on this site, the American Journey salmon & sweet potato mix.

The protein source in this food is what makes it such a good choice for hunting dogs. Salmon is packed full of fat, which as we learned earlier is critical for optimal canine performance. The carbohydrates mainly come from sweet potato, which again is awesome.

It’s a high-calorie food that’s going to provide your pooch with the energy they need to complete a day’s work, and at around $30 for a big bag – it’s going to be easy on the bank balance too.

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Turkey breast, turkey liver, kale, carrots, lentils
Key Features :

  • Human-Grade
  • Subscription-based
  • Slow cooked for nutritional integrity
  • Auto-ships direct to your door
Why You Should Buy

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food is a fresh, human-grade dog food option that is delivered to your doorstep based on your subscription and your dog’s needs. It is slow-cooked in small batches and can be stored in your fridge or freezer.

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Ollie is a great fresh food option if you are in the market for a super premium dog food. Just like fresh food diets are gaining popularity with humans, they are becoming popular with pets. Ollie’s ingredients are all human-grade and are cooked slowly to preserve their nutritional integrity. No artificial flavors or fillers are used in any of their recipes, so you can be sure your dog is getting whole, fresh ingredients and nothing more. When you sign up for Ollie, you fill out a profile about your dog to help them create a customized recipe and delivery schedule just for you. The food is delivered to your doorstep and stored in your fridge or freezer. Although Ollie is more expensive than other dog foods, there are a lot of added benefits that make a fresh food diet something to consider!

Victor Active Dog & Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Beef Meal, Peas, Sweet Potato, Chicken Fat
Key Features :

  • 3 Protein sources
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • 33% Protein
  • Grain free
Why You Should Buy

Victor Active Dog & Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Victor Active Dog & Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry is packed with protein and will aid recovery and boost your dog’s performance. It has complex carbs and vitamins and antioxidants, too.

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This product from Victor provides all an active hunting could possibly need in a balanced formula. It’s packed full of protein to aid recovery and boost performance (33% of the total recipe is protein). It’s a tri-protein mix using beef, pork, chicken and their associated fats for endurance performance. The carbohydrates that make up much of the calories in the product come from sweet potato, and a variety of vegetables provide natural vitamins and antioxidants.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Key Features :

  • High-quality carbohydrates
  • 3 Protein sources
  • Great brand
  • High in calories
Why You Should Buy

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry is a grain free product that is full of healthy fats and proteins. It has oils and amino acids along with fruits and veggies to keep your hunting dog going all day long.

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This is another completely grain free product that’s packed full of the fats and proteins that active hunting dogs require. Again 3 protein sources are used to provide a wide variety of oils and amino acids (bison, beef, and venison). There are tomatoes and raspberries in the mix to provide antioxidants, and peas and sweet potatoes provide your pooch with high-quality carbohydrates.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Peas
Key Features :

  • Chicken protein
  • Added calcium
  • Grain free
Why You Should Buy

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free has chicken as the main source of protein as well as added calcium for bone health. It’s grain free and only has complex carbs.

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Blue Buffalo is one of the world’s most famous and respected dog food manufacturers, and this excellent product is a prime example of why. It’s a high-calorie food that gets the bulk of its protein from real chicken. Its got added calcium to promote healthy bones and joints and it’s a grain free formula using peas and sweet potato for carbohydrates.

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Great brand
  • Beef protein (and fat)
  • Very tasty
  • High in calories
Why You Should Buy

Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe is high in calories to keep your hunting dog on the go. It has complex carbs from sweet potatoes. Vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes provide minerals and nutrients.

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We love recommending this excellent food from Merrick, it sounds so tasty that we almost want to eat it ourselves. It’s made from real roasted Texas beef (and they leave all the fat in). The carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes, and vegetables such as carrot and tomato provide plenty of minerals. Combine this with the added omega oils and amino acids, and you’ve got a great food for a hunting dog.

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Pea Starch
Key Features :

  • Easy to digest
  • Chicken protein
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Grain free
Why You Should Buy

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe is full of protein from real chicken and it is high in calories, as well. The sweet potato and pumpkin provide energy and it is super easy to digest.

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Another great product that’s worthy of your consideration is this offering from Nature’s Recipe. It’s packed full of protein (from real chicken) and it’s super high in calories too. The sweet potato and pumpkin in the mix provide the bulk of the energy and both are excellent carbohydrate sources. It’s also a super easy to digest product, which means if you’re feeding your pooch twice a day while working, it’s going to cause them fewer issues and help them provide better performance.

Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat, Pork Meal
Key Features :

  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Several protein sources
  • High in calories
  • Great brand
Why You Should Buy

Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

Victor Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food is really high in protein and doesn’t have any corn or wheat. It is ideal for sporting pups and those with high physical demands and is fortified with vitamins and minerals.

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The final product we’re going to recommend today is the excellent Hi-Pro from Victor. It’s a super high protein product that is only made up of 35% carbohydrates. There are several protein sources in this food coming from a variety of meat, poultry, and fish (which means lots of amino acids, oils, and fats). It’s not grain free, but there’s no corn or wheat which are often the worst offenders.

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How Often Should You Feed A Hunting Dog

Feeding a hunting dog is a much bigger and more complex task than feeding a normal pet. Here are some of the most important factors that you need to remember.


As we mentioned above hunting dogs need many more calories than traditional pets of the same breed. In an article like this that is not breed specific, we cannot accurately give you a recommended amount of calories. We suggest you look at the recommended calorific intake for a working dog of your breed.

The most important thing to remember is that they’re going to need much more than a normal pet.

Feeding Schedules

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to the feeding schedules of hunting dogs. Many people feel that feeding them the traditional 2 meals per day is the best way to go. It ensures that your pooch has got some energy to expend from breakfast, and gives them fuel to recover with at the end of the day.

There’s certainly some merit to this argument, and it’s not the end of the world if you do feed a hunting dog twice a day – but there’s another (and we’d argue better) way.

It takes around 20 to 24 hours for a dog to fully digest the contents of their stomach, which allows you to feed them an entire day’s food in a single sitting.

There are several health issues commonly associated with working or hunting dogs being extremely active over long periods of time on a full stomach. Intestinal irritation can lead to pain and bloody stools, which needless to say is not ideal.

Some of the world’s most respected trainers and canine nutritionists recommend that hunting dogs should be fed a super large meal once per day (in the evening after the activity has been completed). This allows them to start the next working day on an empty stomach and will make them perform better for you (it also removes the health issues we mentioned above).

While this sounds quite uncomfortable to us humans, because dogs digest their food over such a long period of time it’s completely safe for your pooch. Dogs don’t get hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) like us humans either, which means it’s going to be far more comfortable for your dog than it sounds to our human ears.

This being said, if they are currently used to eating two meals a day it might take them a week or so to get fully comfortable with the new feeding schedule.

You should aim to feed your dog within an hour of their day’s activity being completed. Ensure that their breathing has returned to normal and that you have provided them with lots of water before giving them their hard earned dinner.


A very important variable that needs to be taken into account when calculating the daily calorific requirements of a hunting dog is quite surprisingly, the weather. It takes much more effort to be active over long periods of time in the cold, heat is sapped from the body and needs to be replaced – by burning calories.

A study by dog food manufacturer Purina suggests that for every 10 degrees drop in temperature your dog requires 7.5% more calories than it otherwise would. If you live in an area that has a wide seasonal temperature variation, you should really pay attention to this. You could otherwise be underfeeding your pooch leaving them hungry after completing a hard day’s work with you.

Activity Levels

It’s also important to remember that all of the information on this page should be seen as a general overview, you need to apply a little common sense to use the information correctly for your dog. Aside from the breed, the amount of activity (and the intensity of the activity) are large variables that will determine how much more you should feed your pooch.

For example, if you’re only going out hunting with your dog once a month, then you don’t really need to do much different compared to what you’d do for a non-hunting pet of the same breed. Treat hunting days as you’d treat a day with them on a long walk, and provide them with a little more food than normal.

On the other hand, if you’re out 5 days a week hunting with your dog then you need to use all of the information in this article almost religiously and be 100% sure about quantities and schedules. It’s darn hard work to run around all day this frequently, so ensure you’re looking after your pooch and giving them a big enough meal for the hard work they’re putting in.

The Best Foods For An Adult Hunting Dog

Let’s take a look at some of the best foods on the market formulated for adult hunting dogs.


So there you have it, all you ever needed to know about feeding an active hunting dog.

Any of the products above will be more than capable of providing your pooch with the energy and nutrition they need to sustain a happy and active working life. They are all more than worthy of your consideration.

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