Choosing the right dog food for your pet is a critical decision. The nutrients provide a solid foundation for your puppy’s growth and development. Likewise, the right product supports your pup’s continued good health. If your dog is allergic to beef or chicken, a diet with whitefish may be an excellent alternative to make sure they get the protein they need.
This ingredient isn’t as common in dog products as it is with cats. The first thing you may notice is that there are limited choices. Our guide will discuss the factors you should consider when comparing products. We’ll go over the things that make one food better than another. We’ve also included detailed reviews of several brands with pros and cons for each one.
It’s important to consult with your vet when thinking about changing your dog’s food. Armed with all of this information and veterinary guidance, you can make an informed choice for your pet.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Wellness CORE Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe Dry||
|Best Overall||Diamond Naturals Whitefish & Sweet Potato Dog Food||
|Best for Puppies||Whole Earth Farms Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food||
|Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult Dry Dog Food||
|Purina Beyond Ocean Whitefish Grain-Free Canned Dog Food||
The 8 Best Whitefish Dog Foods
1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food provides an excellent alternative for pups allergic to poultry sources. It contains two other fish sources that offer a fair amount of omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat. The product also has a lot of various fruits and vegetables for additional nutritional support.
However, a few are so low on the ingredient list that the amount is probably small at best. The crude protein content is high at 34%, so your pet will likely stay sated longer. The fat comes in at 15%, probably because of the salmon and herring. The food also has probiotics to help your dog digest the food easier and establish a healthy gut bacterial flora.
2. Diamond Naturals Whitefish & Sweet Potato Dog Food – Best Value
Our research found that Diamond Naturals Whitefish & Sweet Potato Dog Food is the best whitefish dog food for the money. It provides a lean source of protein at 406 calories per cup. The protein content is adequate at 24%, along with 14% fat. There are also a host of added vitamins and minerals for nutritional support. However, a higher protein content would be more appropriate for very active and working dogs.
Like the previous product, this food contains probiotics to aid digestion. It has some filler ingredients like raspberries. However, they are higher on the list, offering more nutrition than comparable diets. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content are decent with the whitefish and flaxseed sources. The price is right, too.
3. Whole Earth Farms Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food
Whole Earth Farms Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food is a bit of a misnomer since the fish is the tenth ingredient on the list. Salmon and chicken are the primary protein and fat sources. Together, they provide 27% and 14%, respectively. The product contains flaxseed and apples to provide adequate fiber for better digestion.
The food includes probiotics and a variety of added nutrients. Unfortunately, legumes are also high on the list of ingredients that replace the grains. The product is formulated for breeds of all sizes, but adult dogs only. The salmon and flaxseed provide excellent skin and coat support.
4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein Dry Dog Food is an excellent example of the manufacturer’s focus on tailored nutrition. This product provides a safe alternative to other meat sources for pups with sensitive digestive systems. Whitefish is the primary protein source with potatoes providing carbohydrates and bulk.
We liked the fact that the food has a minimal number of ingredients, making it easy for pet owners to find a food that their dog can handle. On the downside, you need a prescription to buy it. It’s also expensive. However, that’s often the case with specially prepared diets like this one.
5. Purina Beyond Ocean Whitefish Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Purina Beyond Ocean Whitefish Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is the only the wet food product that we reviewed. While whitefish is listed first, there is also chicken and turkey for protein sources. Together, they provide 8% with 5% fat. This food also has minimal ingredients, with sweet potatoes providing the bulk and fiber. It is moderately rich and maybe too heavy for some pets, with 407 kcal per can.
The product has adequate nutrition, but it does not include additional omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. The protein sources in the food don’t provide enough of these vital nutrients. However, it is highly palatable and will satisfy picky eaters.
6. Blackwood Whitefish Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
Blackwood Whitefish Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is geared toward pets of this size, explaining why there is only one size available. However, it’s an expensive experience to see if your pet will like it. Whitefish is the first ingredient with brown rice, chicken, and duck, providing additional protein sources. While it provides an excellent fiber source, there are lots of fillers, too.
The protein content is decent at 24%. The fat percentage is a bit lower than we’ve seen in comparable products at 12%. That can make it easier for sensitive pups to digest. However, there are also some curious additions to the product, such as crushed red chili pepper. On the positive side, there is also glucosamine for joint support.
7. Health Extension Grain-Free Whitefish Dry Dog Food
Health Extension Grain-Free Whitefish Recipe Dry Dog Food is an interesting mix of buffalo and whitefish. It has a respectable 25% protein. Despite the lean meat sources, the fat content comes in at 15%, making it a bit rich for some pets. It has a lot of filler ingredients, some being fairly uncommon, such as apple cider vinegar and dried seaweed.
Together, the mix provides 405 calories per cup, which is typically what we’ve seen for these types of dog food. The omega-6 fatty acid content is decent, too. It includes glucosamine for joint support, which we like to see in products for large breeds. On the downside, there are also a few potentially problematic additions like chickpeas and lentils, although further research is required on the link between legumes and DCM in dogs.
8. Halo Holistic Wild Caught Salmon & Whitefish Adult Dry Dog Food
There is a lot of fluff in the description and labeling of the Halo Holistic Wild Caught Salmon & Whitefish Adult Dry Dog Food. However, the ingredient list is one of the clearest we’ve seen with many of these products. Salmon, whitefish, pork, and eggs provide a minimum of 27% protein. The fat content tips the scales at 15% with the inclusion of chicken and pork fat as another source.
The food also contains several problematic ingredients that are high on the list. It is expensive, although it comes in 3.5, 10, and 21-pound bags. While it has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids covered, it does not contain glucosamine for joint support even though it is for breeds of all sizes.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Whitefish Dog Food
Most of the dog foods you’ll find on the market contain beef or poultry as their primary protein sources. They are relatively inexpensive and are easily digestible for most pups. However, one drawback is that they are sometimes too fatty, making them too rich for some pets, and some dogs may have allergies to those ingredients, most commonly dairy, beef, chicken, eggs, soy, or wheat gluten. That’s where the value of a food with whitefish lies. Also, some of the leading fisheries are USA-based.
Whenever you buy seafood, it’s essential to consider its impact on the environment and the fish’s population. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, whitefish is one of the better choices you can make. That’s especially true if it comes from one of the Great Lakes in either the United States or Canada, with some exceptions. You may not always think about this aspect of buying dog food, but it’s important.
The other factors to consider are more practical issues involving the nutritional value of the product. Fortunately, there is an excellent resource to help you navigate the pet food aisle with the nutritional profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). They are the gold standard for determining the quality of one commercial dog food over another.
These documents provide minimum and maximum values for the macronutrients like protein and fat, as well as recommendations for vitamins and minerals. You’ll find figures for both puppies and adult dogs because their nutritional needs will vary, depending on their life stage. Let’s delve into what you need to know to make an informed choice. The things we’ll cover include:
The AAFCO provides minimum values for protein and fat for both puppies and adult dogs. It further breaks them down by amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein. There are hundreds of amino acids found in nature, while only 20 make up all the protein found in humans and most animals. There are two additional amino acids recently discovered that may also be incorporated into proteins. Canines require their diet to provide 10 of them, which are also called essential amino acids. Meats are complete because they contain them all. However, you may see plant sources, too.
The nutritional profiles list percentages per kilogram of food. According to AAFCO, puppies should get a minimum of 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat. For adults, it is 18% and 5.5%, respectively. However, keep in mind these are the absolute minimum amounts dogs should have, and a balanced and complete commercial diet will often exceed these figures.
Proteins are crucial for building and repairing muscles and other tissues, providing energy, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Protein needs in dogs vary depending on their age, level of activity, and whether they are pregnant, nursing, or ill. Too much protein is also not appropriate. Consult with your vet about the right amount of protein for your dog. However, dogs still need an additional energy source, which fat provides. It is easy for your pet to digest and use, produces essential fatty acids, and carries fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Other Nutrients
The AAFCO gives ranges for the vitamins and minerals. The measurement varies with the nutrient. Some are listed in milligrams per kilogram, whereas others have IU or international units per kilogram. As with people, more isn’t necessarily better. Vitamins, for example, are either water or fat-soluble. The terms refer to the body’s ability to store them. The difference also speaks to the daily requirements.
Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Dogs and people can store these nutrients in their fat tissue. There is a risk if too much builds up in the body because it can become toxic. Vitamin A is a classic example. The nutritional adequacy statement on the label of the product provides this information. Look for food that implicitly states that they meet the requirements of the AAFCO.
Many products, especially boutique foods of this type, often contain other nutrients that may provide some additional health value. Glucosamine and flaxseed are popular additions. They are good for your pet’s skin, fur, and joint health. Other ingredients, such as apple cider vinegar or other extracts, may not add a lot to the quality of these products and have not been scientifically proven to be beneficial.
Wet vs. Dry
The question of wet versus dry dog food is a matter of preference. The latter is the overwhelming favorite of over 90% of new pet owners. It’s convenient and affordable, with a longer shelf life. It’s also more environmentally friendly than canned products. However, these foods are quite palatable, making wet food an excellent choice for finicky pets.
Whichever type you buy, we suggest teaching your dog to eat promptly at mealtimes and storing the food appropriately in the meantime. If your dog does not finish their food within 30 minutes, pick it up. That’s especially important for canned foods, which can spoil quickly and need to be refrigerated. Bacterial numbers can double within 20 minutes at the right temperature and humidity levels. Even dry food should not be left in the bowl for prolonged periods, as it gets contaminated by dust and environmental bacteria.
If you decide to feed your pet a raw diet, make sure you first discuss the pros and cons with your vet, including necessary precautions and how to properly store and handle this food. There are some recognized health risks associated with raw meat for both you and your dog due to potential contamination with bacteria, as suggested by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Pet foods must list all the ingredients on the label from most to least by weight. Of course, if you’re buying food specifically because it contains whitefish, it should appear close to or at the beginning of the ingredient list. Don’t be put off by things like organ meats or by-products. Both are nutrient-rich sources. Likewise, many manufacturers add vitamins and minerals, often with their scientific name.
Many products also contain a variety of so-called people foods. It’s a natural segue from the humanization of the pet industry. However, it isn’t necessarily an indication of better quality. Instead, it’s marketing to sell you on a particular product. We’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on a disturbing occurrence that may have a connection to some canine diets.
Recently, the veterinary community has noticed a significant uptick in cases of a potentially life-threatening form of heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The condition causes the heart to weaken so that it can’t pump blood adequately. Veterinarians have noted a possible link between some grain-free diets and cases in pets not genetically predisposed to it.
These findings have prompted the FDA to investigate the cause of DCM. There is also concern that ingredients that replace grains like legumes (predominantly peas) may play a role. We recommend that if you have a dog with a greater propensity for this condition, such as a Doberman Pinscher, you first discuss your pet’s diet with your vet.
Based on all our reviews, Wellness CORE Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish, Herring & Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food was the leader of the pack for the best product with whitefish. It’s the best choice we found for a product that is appropriate for pups with food allergies. Comparable ones have whitefish on the label but also contain other protein sources.
On the value side of the coin, Diamond Naturals Whitefish & Sweet Potato Dog Food stood head and shoulders above the rest. The product stood out as a leaner diet, while still providing adequate nutritional support. The cost savings are welcome, too. We also liked the fact that it is a family-run business.