8 Best Novel Protein Dog Foods – 2023 Review and Top Picks
As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard about novel protein dog food or possibly even given it to your dog. The term “novel protein” refers to a type of meat (a protein source) different from the meat commonly used in dog food like beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb. Since dogs’ allergic reactions and food sensitivity can come from these four protein sources, a novel source is needed to avoid them.
Novel proteins include meats like lamb, duck, rabbit, venison, bison, salmon, and kangaroo. If your dog has an allergy or food sensitivity, feeding them dog food with a novel protein will often eliminate the problem. To help you, we have reviews of the eight best novel protein dog foods, including our pick for the best overall.
A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Ollie Fresh Lamb with Cranberries||
||Click Here to Save 50%!|
|Best Value||Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula||
|Premium Choice||Ziwi Peak Venison Air-Dried Dog Food||
|Best for Puppies||Purina Pro Plan Development Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice||
|Taste of the Wild Stream Salmon with Ancient Grains||
The 8 Best Novel Protein Dog Foods
1. Ollie’s Lamb and Cranberry Dish Fresh Dog Food Subscription Service – Best Overall
|Main Ingredients:||Lamb, butternut squash, lamb liver, kale, rice,|
|Calories:||1804 kcal ME/kg|
Our best overall goes to Ollie’s Fresh Lamb Dish With Cranberries. Feeding fresh real food made with whole, high-quality ingredients is the best you can do to help your beloved dog thrive. To accommodate dogs with sensitivities to common dog food ingredients, Ollie created this amazing recipe based on a single novel animal protein: lamb. This nutritious recipe is loaded with antioxidants from natural superfoods such as butternut squash, kale, and cranberries. The cranberries and high moisture content combine to help maintain healthy hydration levels and prevent urinary issues. Fiber, vitamins, and minerals from vegetable sources help to maintain your dog’s digestive system and overall health.
This amazing food is available as a subscription-based service, which means that it will be delivered right to your doorstep, saving you from regular trips to the store. The only downside we see is that the service might not be available in your area.
- Fresh ingredients
- Natural antioxidants
- Might not be available in your area
2. Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula – Best Value
|Main Ingredients:||Lamb meal, white rice, cracked pearl barley, grain sorghum, egg product|
Our pick for the best novel protein dog food for the money is Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice. The price is affordable, and, more importantly, the ingredient list in the recipe is stellar. For example, it has blueberries and pumpkin: two superfoods high in fiber and antioxidants. Then there’s the first ingredient, lamb meal, along with quinoa and chia seed, which give your dog plenty of protein for energy, strong bones, and healthy muscles. The company also uses its proprietary probiotic technology, K9 Strain, with 80 million colony-forming units (CFUs) of live, active probiotic cultures in every pound of food.
Diamond Naturals is a well-respected and trusted brand with some of the industry’s most stringent food safety protocols. They produce their foods in the United States with quality ingredients sourced from top suppliers around the world. They only sell their dog food via a limited number of suppliers, so it’s sometimes a little difficult to find. It’s worth the effort to find it, especially if you’re on a tight budget but want to give your favorite canine the best.
- Quality ingredients
- Plenty of protein
- Proprietary probiotics
- Affordable price
- Contains chicken fat
3. Ziwi Peak Venison Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food – Premium Choice
|Main Ingredients:||Venison, venison tripe, venison heart, venison lung, venison liver, venison kidney, New Zealand green mussel|
Ziwi Peak has an impressive recipe on its hands with the Venison Grain-Free, Air-Dried dog food. Air-drying is said to be much better than cooked drying since it preserves fragile ingredients. This outstanding recipe is free of extra carbs and fillers and is made with 10% superfoods, including organic kelp, New Zealand green mussels, and cold-washed green tripe.
The venison in Ziwi Peak’s recipe is free-range, which we like, and raised without added growth hormones. Besides the green mussels, this recipe only includes venison protein, which is rare among novel protein dog foods and has no grains, sugars, or glycerin. We suggest you check with your vet about giving your dog a grain-free diet, as grains have been shown to benefit their health.
- Venison as a protein source
- Includes New Zealand green mussels
- Whole venison is the first ingredient
- Very high in protein
- Includes chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
- 96% meat, organs, and NZ green mussels
4. Purina Pro Plan Development Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice – Best for Puppies
|Main Ingredients:||Salmon, rice, barley, fish meal, papaya meal|
The nutritional needs of puppies are quite different from adults, which is why Purina Pro Plan Development Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice is our choice as the best for puppies. One reason is that it’s high in calcium, which is critical for your growing puppy’s bones, teeth, and muscles. Purina Pro Plan also includes sunflower oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, to protect and nurture your puppy’s coat and skin.
As a novel protein, salmon is one of the best, with a very low risk of allergic reactions. To help your puppy’s immune system develop, Purina Pro Plan includes live probiotics, which are also essential for a healthy GI tract. Speaking of immunity, this formula is high in antioxidants and DHA and includes rice because it’s easy for puppies to digest. This formula is for large-breed puppies, but Purina also makes one for smaller breeds.
- Perfect for growing puppies
- Real salmon is the first ingredient
- High in fiber, antioxidants, fatty acids, and DHA
- High protein content
- Made in the USA
- Made for large breed puppies
5. Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream Smoke-Flavored Salmon with Ancient Grains
|Main Ingredients:||Salmon, salmon meal, ocean fish meal, grain sorghum, millet|
Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream smoke-flavored salmon with ancient grains is superb dog food for dogs at all life stages. The first two ingredients are salmon and salmon meal, which are loaded with omega fatty acids and provide a high level of clean protein. Another protein source is the ancient grains used in this recipe, including sorghum, chia seeds, millet, and quinoa.
One of the reasons why we love this novel protein dog food is the inclusion of the proprietary probiotic blend, which is essential for your dog or puppy’s digestive system and immunity. Including blueberries and raspberries ensures your pup will also get plenty of antioxidants critical for overall wellness. We also like that their salmon is sustainably sourced (although we’re not 100% pleased about the farm-raised salmon). Lastly, thanks to the salmon, this Taste of the Wild recipe is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to ensure your pup has a shiny coat and healthy skin.
- Salmon is 1st ingredient
- High in protein
- Low in fat
- Ancient grains deliver plenty of fiber
6. Nature’s Logic Canine Duck & Salmon Meal Feast
|Main Ingredients:||Duck meal, millet, turkey meal, chicken fat, salmon meal, pumpkin seed|
Nature’s Logic is one of the better dog food brands on the market today, and the Canine Duck & Salmon Meal Feast is a good example of why. Duck, turkey, and salmon are three of the five first ingredients that supply high levels of protein and minerals from novel meats. What we noted immediately about Nature’s Logic, though, was the fact that they don’t use synthetic vitamins in their recipes, which we think is great. The recipe also includes probiotics and enzymes, which greatly help your dog digest its food well and support its immunity.
We also like that this recipe is made for all dog life stages so that you can feed it to your puppy, adult dog, or senior dog. We worry that 38% protein might be high for dogs with kidney issues, so check with your vet before serving Nature’s Logic. With 15% fat and 5% fiber, your dog will be well-fed but won’t put on weight. Although it doesn’t affect the food, we also like that Nature’s Logic buys 1 kW of renewable energy for every pound of dog food purchased.
- Very high protein content
- Made for all dog life stages
- Three types of novel protein (Duck, salmon, turkey)
- 100% all-natural
7. Taste of the Wild – Roasted Bison & Venison
|Main Ingredients:||Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potato, peas, potatoes|
One of the best features of Taste of the Wild is the protein content, which is a high 32%, most of which comes from high-quality real meat. Water buffalo and lamb are the first two ingredients, which are two proteins that are very low on the allergy scale and cause few, if any, food sensitivities in most dogs. There’s also roasted venison and ocean fish meal, two other excellent protein sources. Like many of its competitors, Taste of the Wild includes a proprietary blend of probiotics and dried chicory root for improved digestion and boosted immunity. Even better, the probiotics are added after the food is cooked to maintain strong viability (the heat from cooking can destroy them).
Also included in the recipe are blueberries, sweet potatoes, and raspberries, which supply a high level of antioxidants to protect your dog’s health daily. The inclusion of peas and potatoes is concerning due to their possible connection to heart disease. However, we find Taste of the Wild – Roasted Bison & Venison to be a top-quality novel meat dog food.
- Water buffalo is the first ingredient.
- Several other novel types of meat are included
- 32% protein from high-quality meat
- Real fruit and veggies for antioxidants
- Relatively expensive
- 18% fat
- Peas included in the recipe
8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison
|Main Ingredients:||Deboned bison, beef meal, fish meal, peas, pea protein, tapioca starch, pea starch|
Blue Buffalo is a well-known and beloved dog food brand, and its Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison is our premium choice. What we love about Blue Buffalo is their “True Blue Promise,” which states that the 1st ingredient is always real meat. There’s no soy or wheat and never any artificial ingredients. Blue Buffalo is the best for active adult dogs, providing all the ingredients to build strong bones, healthy teeth, and strong muscles.
Like most dog foods on our list today, Blue Buffalo is made in the USA from ingredients sourced globally. The main novel protein is bison, which is perfect for dogs with allergies or food sensitivity and provides 30% protein in every bowl. With plenty of veggies and fruits for complex carbs, fiber, and antioxidants, you can easily see why this is our premium choice. One concern, however, is that peas (the 4th ingredient) are still being investigated for their possible connection to heart disease.
- Real bison is 1st ingredient
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Healthy complex carbohydrates
- High in protein, fiber, and antioxidants
- Contains peas in various forms.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Novel Protein Dog Foods
How to Find the Best Novel Protein Dog Food
Finding the best novel protein dog food shouldn’t be difficult, but it can be frustrating. Many brands that concentrate on novel protein also make their dog food recipes “grain-free,” which is problematic for several reasons. One is that some grains, including rice, oats, barley, wheat, rye, and sorghum, are safe for dogs and highly nutritious in the correct quantity.
You can buy a good novel protein food, but if it’s grain-free, your dog could lose out on some essential nutrients. Some grain-free diets are under current investigation for their possible link to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy. This seems to be related to low taurine precursors or low taurine levels, as well as the inclusion of higher-than-normal levels of legumes. For that reason, look for novel dog food with grains unless your dog has a specific allergy to one or more of them. Most of the brands on our list are made with ancient grains.
Ultimately, we chose dog foods with a true novel protein as the first ingredient, with other novel proteins and high-quality ingredients in the first six to seven ingredients. All dog foods on today’s list are high in antioxidants, and most have ancient, nutritious grains without peas, pea powder, or legumes. All have high amounts of high-quality protein with lower risk of causing an allergic reaction in your dog.
Many dogs today have allergies and food sensitivity. If that’s your pup, the best overall dog food on today’s list Ollie’s Fresh Lamb Dish With Cranberries is ideal. Diamond Naturals, Lamb Meal & Rice, our best value choice, is perfect for pet parents on a budget. Our premium choice, is Ziwi Peaks’s Venison Grain-Free, Air-Dried dog food, is a top-shelf novel protein dog food. Then there’s Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach, our choice for the best food for puppies. All of these superior-quality novel protein dog foods come highly recommended.
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock