3 Best Dog Food for High Energy Dogs

Having a high energy dog can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you have a lively creature keeping you active. Your companion will provide you with tons of happy memories and love you unconditionally. But then, on the flip side, your incredibly energetic dog will also be quite a lot of responsibility. They’ll need a lot of exercise on a daily basis, and you’ll need to ensure you will be able to make the time to take them out for their walks. Plus, at times, you’ll likely have to provide them with a special diet. In most cases, a certain kind of dog food will suffice. But what is the best dog food for high energy dogs?

High Performance Dog Food by Bully Max Check Price
Canned Natural Grain-Free Dog Food by Wellness Core Check Price
Natural Dog Food by AvoDerm Check Price
High Prairie High Protein Kibble, Grain Free by Taste of The Wild Check Price

In today’s article, we delve deeply into finding the right kind of dog food for your needs. We’ll be exploring what you need to look for, and how you can be sure if the kibble you buy is good quality. After that, we’ve also made sure to include some of our recommendations. We’ve also reviewed them so that you can more easily begin your search.

Feeding your dog properly and ensuring they have the necessary nutrients is paramount to keeping them in good health. It is exactly for this reason that it’s so important to find the right kibble as soon as possible. And so, without further ado, let’s start talking about everything you need to know to find the best dog food for high energy dogs!

Why Do You Need a Special Diet for High Energy Dogs?

best dog food for high energy dogs

Now, you may find yourself asking: “what’s the point of having a special diet for high energy dogs? Food is food, isn’t it?”

Well, first of all, that is indeed correct. Food is food. You could probably get away with feeding your dog a normal diet; like a commercially available dry dog food for adults. There’s nothing wrong with that, in most cases. However, you do have to remember that a high energy dog is an athletic one. This means that they expend a lot more energy than a dog with lower energy levels. As a result, they will also need to have a diet that will help to compensate them for the lost calories.

Athletic dogs are just like athletic humans – you wouldn’t feed Usain Bolt a 2000 calorie diet, so why would you constrict your energetic dog to the same? To best meet the needs of your beloved pooch, you will have to ensure that their daily caloric needs are met. In some cases, this can get all the way up to 10000 cals a day. Yes, ten thousand! However, there’s no need to panic or get frazzled, since these numbers are often for working dogs. Energetic house pets will need far less. To get a more accurate picture of your dog’s dietary needs, you can bring them to the vet, or to the nutritionist.

You may also attempt trial and error by giving your pet a smaller starting amount of food per day. If they appear thin and are always hungry, add more, until you reach a sweet spot. The ideal amount of calories a day would be where your dog is adequately fed and has enough bulk and muscle without starting to get a little on the chubby side.

What Should You Look For?

Just like high energy dogs will need higher amounts of calories a day, they will also probably need different ratios of nutrients. If you’re wondering just what your athletic dog needs, we’re here to help. There are a few things to consider in general. However, you also need to remember that each dog will have their own recommended daily allowances. In the end, you’ll need to be responsible for finding what’s best for you pooch. Until then, we’re here to help you out with recommendations for best dog food for high energy dogs!

But before we get to that, here are the nutrients to look for when you’re buying dog food for athletic dogs:

Protein, Protein, Protein!

Dogs are carnivorous by nature, which is why they need protein in their diet to live a normal and healthy life. It shouldn’t just be any protein, either – it should be animal-based protein. The more types of animal meat, the better. For dogs, having multiple sources of animal-based protein is much better. A single source of protein is… well, okay, but the fact is it may not be enough.

Plant-based proteins like soy proteins should only be used supplementary to the main meat sources. If you’re looking to feed your dog a vegan or vegetarian diet, we’re sorry to inform you that you’ll be depriving them of essential nutrients that will help them to function properly. This is especially true for high energy dogs, who will need to be able to replace all their burned energy through plenty of protein. You don’t want to give an athletic dog a plant-based diet (unless recommended by your veterinarian to help with a health problem such as chronic kidney disease) – they’ll likely become very malnourished.

As a rule of thumb, high-performance kibble must contain a minimum of 20% protein. Good quality dog food usually sits at the 20-30% protein range, so that’s something to keep an eye out for as you shop for your pet’s noms.

The Animal Protein Sources Do Matter, Too

We’ve pretty much established that you want to have a lot of animal-based protein in your dog’s food. However, what we’ve failed to mention is that you need to have high quality protein in there too. It’s not enough to have high protein ratios – the source of that animal meat should also be up to par.

When looking at the label of a dog food bag, read the first few ingredients on the list. The very first ingredient (also the most abundant ingredient in the recipe) should be an animal meat source. It should read something like chicken or beef or even turkey, or whatever other type of animal meat you prefer. Sometimes it could be bison or even venison. There are also times it could be duck or lamb.

Even better is if the first ingredient on the list is chicken (or whatever type of meat) meal. This means it’s a concentrated version of chicken which then provides more protein overall.

If the ingredients list shows multiple consecutive animal meat proteins from the first to fifth (give or take) ingredients, this is a good sign that the kibble will be fantastic all around. Not just for highly energetic dogs, but also for any other pups.

Higher quality protein sources mean your pup will be able to get more amino acids that are necessary for them to restore any damage tissue and build muscle. Also remember that protein does play a role when it comes to producing any essential hormones in your pooch’s body. Regular dogs won’t be needing this much high quality protein, but if your dog is highly energetic, their body will simply need more in order to repair and grow.

Are Carbs Necessary?

Here’s a bit of a news flash: dogs have literally 0 need for carbohydrates. As carnivores, they are fully capable of getting all of their dietary requirements from protein sources and fat. Carbs are okay for them to eat, given the fact that they do have versatile digestive systems. And, well, for energetic dogs, the extra energy received from carbohydrates surely can’t hurt. Dogs that expend a lot of energy will probably benefit well from dog food that has grains. However, not all dogs are capable of eating grains without any repercussions (some dogs may be sensitive).

This being the case, it’s simply better to look for complex carbohydrate sources instead. Look for ingredients such as sweet potatoes or other root vegetables like potatoes or beet roots. This can prove highly beneficial for your pooch for sure!

Remember that dogs that are highly energetic don’t need to be “carbo-loaded”. Rather, it’s better to feed them little, but feed them often instead. This way, your pup will be able to more efficiently digest his food. The carbs and other energy sources will be able to be properly digested and put to good use.

Also do remember that when looking at the ingredients list, carbohydrate sources should come after the meat sources. The primary ingredient in any recipe must always be the protein source(s).


Fats have a bit of a bad rap – this much is true. However, not all fat is bad. In fact, some types of fat are essential to the proper functioning of the body, both canine and human. The best dog food for high energy dogs must include some essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and the equally well-known Omega-6. Your beloved pooch needs both of this in order to maintain a healthier coat, as well as healthy skin. The fact is, coats aren’t just for aesthetics – dog coats are meant to also protect your pup from the elements and even from parasites. That’s why it’s essential to keep your pooch’s coat healthy all around.

Another thing that fats are important for is endurance. Short bursts of activity burn carbohydrate energy stores, which are then used up. After that, your dog’s body will turn to fat storage in order to keep the endurance up. If your pooch is often fatigued or tired, perhaps try upping the amount of fat in their diet. However, if you plan to do this, do ensure that you are doing it gradually so as to avoid shocking your pup’s digestive system. Gradual increases will allow your dog to adjust properly, which will prevent any digestive issues.

Before you start increasing the fat in your dog’s diet, however, first you must ask yourself if they really need it. Do their activity levels truly require the increased caloric intake? If they don’t but you increase the amount of fat in their diet anyway, you are likely to just give yourself a problem since your pup will put on weight and possibly become overweight.

The right amount of fat in your dog’s diet will provide him/her with improved health, a strong heart, and strong joints to boot.


When it comes to vitamins, high energy dogs will need plenty of some specific ones. The most important ones, for example, are vitamins that humans need too. These are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Then, Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B-Complex including Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B12

Although vitamins don’t provide energy directly, they improve the way the body functions in order to make energy use more efficient. Plus, vitamins simply help the body’s systems overall, boosting the immune system and improving general body function.

Simply put, these vitamins are the most basic building blocks necessary for ensuring the body’s basic functions can be performed. Without these, your poor pooch will be malnourished and will likely run into several health problems caused by vitamin deficiencies.


Of course, when vitamins are mentioned, minerals often soon follow. This case is no exception. Indeed, dogs will also need minerals, especially since they also help the body to be healthy and perform all its necessary functions. And so, you should ensure that there are enough minerals in your dog’s food, such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium chloride (yes – table salt!).

What Ingredients Should You Avoid?

best dog food for high energy dogs

Just like there are things that you should be looking for when shopping for kibble, there are certainly also things that you should be avoiding. The fact is, not all ingredients in dog food is welcome. Some of them are there to serve no other purpose other than bulking up the food or making your dog feel more full (very temporarily). In cases where the kibble or wet dog food contains one or more of these filler ingredients, chances are that kibble is pretty low in quality over all. To know for sure, you should look at the label and try to see whether the rest of the ingredients compensate for a filler.

Here are some things that you should be looking out for:


A byproduct is basically a waste product from any process. In this case, byproducts in dog food usually mean meat that come from parts of an animal not suitable for human consumption. Although byproducts will still provide protein, it will be lower in quality, and sometimes can be harder for your pooch to digest. This is especially true if your dog has a sensitive stomach. Consider the fact that animal byproducts can contain anything such as:

  • Animal feet including hooves
  • Chicken feet including claws
  • Bird beaks
  • Innards (not necessarily bad)
  • Tendons and Cartilage (again, not necessarily bad)
  • Ears and the like

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to spot animal byproducts in the ingredients list, as long as it is a supplementary ingredient to a different high quality source of protein. So the first ingredient on the list should be a high quality source of protein like beef or beef meal, then byproduct should come secondary to that.

Grain Floor Sweepings

If you spot things like wheat mill run on the ingredients label of the dog food you are looking at, know that that is basically another waste product. Wheat mill run is the waste product coming from the wheat milling process. They are essentially floor sweepings and provide little to no nutrition to your pooch. This ingredient is indeed a filler.

Another filler to watch out for is unspecified “cellulose”. If it simply states cellulose with no other indication of source, chances are it is likely sourced from saw dust. Yes, the very same saw dust that comes from woodworking!

Premium or Affordable?

When choosing the best dog food for high energy dogs, what many pet owners might ask is: does the dog food need to be premium? Well, to answer this question simply, no. Dog food that is more expensive than others may likely be higher in quality, but this is no guarantee. The only thing you should really be looking at when trying to decide on a kibble to purchase is the type of ingredients included. You should also be looking at the ratios of the nutrients in the kibble to ensure there is enough to sustain your active dog’s lifestyle.

Best Dog Food for High Energy Dogs

Now that we’ve given you a ton of information, it’s time for us to start giving you our recommendations! With all of that said, here are some of the contenders for best dog food for high energy dogs.

Our Favorite

Product Name: High Performance Dog Food by Bully Max

Product Description: Of all of the brands of dog food we have mentioned here today, we feel that it is pretty necessary to say that this one is the only one rated five stars. Well, the only one rated 5 stars that doesn’t contain any grains or soy, that is. This kibble is meat-based, and provides a hefty amount of calories per serving at 535 calories every cup. Here is a quick look at this incredibly nutrition-dense dog food:

Offer price: 40

Currency: USD

Availability: InStock

  • Nutrition
  • Price
  • Calorie Content


  • No soy, no wheat, no corn
  • Nutritionally dense, plenty of calories per serving
  • Gives strength and energy + also improves lean muscle mass development
  • Contains plenty of amino acids and proteins that are necessary for stamina and performance
  • All natural and meat based

Bully Max’s offering is truly a great one. This kibble comes in 15 pound bags or 40 pound bags to suit your needs; you can start off with the 15lb bag to see if your dog likes it first. What’s great about this high performance kibble is the fact that it’s great for all dogs, not just high energy dogs. Bully Max is fantastic for all breeds four weeks and up. It’s even suitable for pups that are nursing or pregnant. One more advantage that this kibble offers is the fact that it can be used as a diet on its own. But if you prefer a different diet for your dog, you can choose to supplement it using Bully Max. That way, your pooch will get balanced and complete nutrition.

High energy dogs will enjoy the fact that this kibble provides plenty of energy in every serving. Furthermore, if you are worried about grain allergies or sensitivities, you won’t need to with this kibble. Bully Max is free of grain and corn. It’s even free of soy!


  • Very calorie and nutrition dense
  • Great for any breed of dog, 4 weeks and up
  • Also works for pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Grain free, corn free, soy free
  • Natural and meat based


  • Although advertised as great for all breeds, still not ideal for lower energy dogs since high caloric content will easily make them overweight

Runners Up

Canned Natural Grain-Free Dog Food by Wellness CORE

The Canned Dog Food by Wellness CORE is another fantastic option for high energy dogs. This option is GRAIN FREE, and it’s essentially a wet dog food which is great for picky dogs. Warm this up a little and let the aroma permeate and it’ll be much more difficult for your pup to resist. There are a bunch of reasons why this kibble made it on this list, and we are here to discuss them. Here is a quick look at this canned food:

  • Amazing for picky dogs
  • A bit more expensive, but many find it worth it – your mileage may vary
  • Much more tasty for your pooch
  • Available in different variants to cater to your dog’s needs (comes in a ton of different meat source combinations)
  • Contains plenty of sources of nutrition to provide your dog a compelte and balanced diet
  • Grain free for sensitive tummies

This grain-free option is great if your pooch is the picky type. It comes in several different variations so you can pick one that includes your dog’s favorite type of meat. The flavorful wet food will invite your picky (yet energetic) pooch to eat! As an added bonus, as a grain-free product this won’t aggravate any digestive problems. In fact, in pups that are grain sensitive will find relief when fed this canned food. When you give your energetic dog this dog food you’ll notice that they’ll be much more lively and healthy (or at least that’s what the company says in their marketing)!

Wellness CORE is known for their quality products, and it’s no different in this situation. This particular offering of theirs is chock full of necessary omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and even probiotics. Every bite will provide your pooch with vitamins and nutrients!

Pros and Cons of Canned Natural Grain-Free Dog Food by Wellness Core

✔️Grain free
✔️Tasty even for picky pups
✔️Tons of variants available so take your pick
✔️Healthy and full of nutrients
✔️Contains probiotics
❌A bit pricier, because it’s canned dog food

Natural Dog Food by AvoDerm

If a natural dog food is what you are looking for, you’ll find it here in AvoDerm’s offering. AvoDerm is a dry dog food that is high in protein and is rather ideal for adult dogs that are very active. If you want a quick look at what this dog food can offer, here’s what you need to know:

  • Contains a lot of protein, making it ideal for highly active pets
  • Makes use of a ton of natural ingredients that all offer great benefits
  • Omega rich
  • Great for skin and coat
  • Boosts your dog’s immune system

AvoDerm’s Natural Dog Food is a dry dog food perfect for those who are looking to improve their pet’s health. It’s specifically formulated to help boost the immune system whilst simultaneously improving the skin’s condition. It makes use of ingredients such as lamb, chicken, and turkey which are all rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals, and of course, antioxidants. Furthermore, it also makes use of apple, avocado, brown rice, alfalfa meal, flax seed, kelp meal, and herring. They don’t stop at that, of course; this recipe includes even more ingredients that are all made to be beneficial to your pup’s health.

One of the main ingredients in this formula that also provides a ton of benefits is California Avocado. These avocadoes are rather omega-rich, but on top of that they also help with making skin softer. Avocadoes are full of antioxidants and vitamins, which all contribute to an improved immune system.

To make it palatable to dogs with sensitive tummies, this kibble contains absolutely no grains. It also has no corn or wheat. Adding to its digestibility, this formula also makes use of no artificial colors. Despite this, AvoDerm remains highly nutritious in order to give your dog the energy he needs.

Pros and Cons of Natural Dog Food by AvoDerm

✔️Great not just for skin but also for coat
✔️Boosts the immune system
✔️Rich in Omega Fatty Acids
✔️A lot of protein means it’s great for active dogs
✔️Very gentle on sensitive stomachs
❌A bit on the pricier side, but absolutely worth it in most cases

High Prairie High Protein Kibble, Grain Free by Taste of The Wild

This particular option is one of the best dog food for high energy dogs, at least when it comes to grain free options. Let’s take a quick look at just why that is:

  • Grain free, which means it’s great for even sensitive tummies
  • Makes use of antixodants and superfoods to further boost health
  • Contains several sources of protein for a complete and balanced nutrition
  • Helps provide your dog with all of the energy they need

This high protein kibble is very gentle on stomachs that are sensitive to grain. As advertised, it contains literally no grain, and instead makes use of things such as peas, sweet potatoes, tomato pomace, canola oil, and more. It also makes use of several sources of animal protein, such as lamb meal, venison, bison, egg, and chicken. All great, high quality sources of protein, if you ask us! This unique formula makes this kibble qualify for best dog food for high energy dogs.

The very first ingredient on the label of this kibble is roasted bison. It’s the main source of protein that provides your pooch with plenty of nutrients, enough to help them develop strong, lean muscles. Taste of The Wild made sure to use real meat, so that your dog receives the best possible amino acid profile to boost their health overall.

If you’re concerned about sustainability and ethical ingredient sourcing, you’ll surely be glad to know that this kibble uses trusted ingredients that are sourced sustainably.

Pros and Cons of High Prairie High Protein Kibble, Grain Free by Taste of The Wild

✔️Grain free and amazing for dogs with sensitive stomachs
✔️Ingredients are sourced sustainably
✔️Multiple sources of protein for balanced nutrition
✔️Great for energetic dogs
❌Certain studies coming out about this dog food being linked to chronic heart disease. This is currently still up for debate, but read the documentation and proceed with caution. If you are concerned, you can seek your vet’s advice

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best dog food for high energy dogs can be a bit difficult, but it’s really not impossible. After all, we’ve given you the information that you need in order to be able to deciper on your own whether dog food is high quality or not. With the information in the above article, you should be able to distinguish whether the kibble you are interested in contains the right ratio of proteins and fats in order to give your dog the nutrition they need.

With everything in this post, we hope that you’ll be able to properly shop for your pup’s needs. That way, you can make sure they get the nutrients they need on a daily basis. As long as the kibble has the required essentials, your pup should be healthy and happy for a long time. Don’t forget to also give them plenty of daily exercise!