While dogs may not be obligate carnivores like cats, meat should still be the basis of their diet. Animal-based proteins are complete proteins which means that they provide all of the essential amino acids your dog needs – they are also easier for his body to digest and utilize than plant-based proteins.


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When shopping for dog food, you may find yourself asking whether all proteins are created equal. When it comes to animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish, do you know which option is really best for your dog? Keep reading to learn more about salmon as a protein choice for dogs and to see our top picks for the best dog food with salmon.

Why Salmon Might Be a Better Choice Over Beef or Chicken

Protein is the foundation of a healthy diet for dogs. In addition to calories, protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles and it helps your dog maintain lean muscle mass. Protein is best for dogs when it comes from animal sources because they are more biologically valuable than plant proteins.

But are some proteins better for dogs than others?

The truth of the matter is that while all dogs have the same basic nutritional requirements, some dogs tolerate certain food ingredients better than others. Food allergies are a common concern for dogs and some of the most common food allergens are common proteins like beef, chicken, and pork. If your dog suffers from food allergies or sensitivities and you’re feeding him a dog food made with one of these proteins, that could very well be the problem.

Even if your dog doesn’t have an allergy to beef, chicken, or other common proteins, salmon might still be a better choice. Much of the beef used in dog food comes from less-than-stellar sources and it is often very processed which makes it harder for your dog’s body to digest. Chicken is usually better in terms of quality, but there are still many dog foods made with chicken by-products.

So, what about salmon? What makes salmon a great choice for your dog?

Not only is salmon a rich source of animal-based protein, but it also contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to providing your dog with a concentrated source of energy and lean protein, salmon also supports his skin and coat. The essential fatty acids found in salmon may also help your dog’s body absorb and utilize certain fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. For all of these reasons, you should consider switching your dog to a salmon-based dog food.

6 Benefits of Feeding a Dog Food with Salmon

Fresh salmon is a healthy ingredient for your dog and many dogs enjoy the flavor. If you’re considering making the switch to a salmon dog food, here are some of the benefits you can expect to see in your dog as you make the transition:

  1. Salmon is a lean source of protein which will help your dog maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy body weight.
  2. As a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, salmon will help improve your dog’s skin and coat health.
  3. The omega-3 fatty acid content of salmon may provide anti-inflammatory benefits to protect your dog’s joints, particularly as he ages.
  4. Salmon is a novel protein for many dogs which can be beneficial if your dog suffers from food allergies or sensitivities to common proteins.
  5. As an animal-based protein, salmon is a complete protein that provides all 10 of the essential amino acids your dog needs in his diet.
  6. Salmon is a rich source of DHA which can help with brain development in puppies and supports cognitive function and neurological health in adult dogs.
Remember, when switching your dog to a new food it is important to make the transition slowly. Start by mixing 25% of the new salmon dog food with 75% of his old food for a few days and gradually increase the amount of new food as long as your dog is able to tolerate it well.

The Top 7 Best Salmon Dog Foods

Now that you know the benefits of salmon for dogs, you may be thinking about switching your dog to a dog food made with salmon. As you start shopping, remember to look for a high-quality product made with natural ingredients and properly formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. If you need help getting started, here’s our top pick for the best salmon dog food:

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Food

Overall Best Salmon Dog Food: If you’re in the market for a salmon-based dog food, look no further than this Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Food. This recipe features fresh salmon as the main ingredient with salmon meal for supplemental protein. It also contains other premium animal proteins including ocean fish meal and smoked salmon. This formula contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat but is properly balanced with omega-6 fatty acids as well. It is rich in digestible grain-free carbohydrates which provide energy, fiber, and essential nutrients. You’ll also be glad to know that this formula contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Salmon as the first ingredient, several supplemental animal proteins, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

6 More Top-Rated Dog Foods that Include Salmon

If the recipe reviewed above doesn’t strike your dog’s fancy, you’ll be glad to know that there are still plenty of options out there! Here are six more top-rated dog food made with salmon:

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dry Food

You don’t necessarily need to pay a lot for a high-quality dog food made with salmon. This American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dry Food is an affordable recipe that offers excellent quality and balanced nutrition. It features fresh, deboned salmon in a protein-rich recipe supplemented with both chicken and turkey meals. This formula is grain-free for easy digestion, with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. It contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with fiber-rich chickpeas and sweet potatoes for long-lasting energy.

  • Pros: Deboned salmon as first ingredient, several supplemental animal proteins, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics, affordable price
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food

If you’re looking for a protein-rich recipe that features salmon as the main ingredient, look no further than this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food. This recipe contains deboned salmon as the main ingredient with chicken meal and menhaden fish meal for supplemental protein, totaling 34% crude protein. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like peas and tapioca starch with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance. It also contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption with dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

  • Pros: Deboned salmon as the first ingredient, supplementary sources of protein, grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients

Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food

If your dog is sensitive to chicken ingredients, this Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food is a great option. Not only is it free from chicken, but it features protein-rich salmon as the main ingredient. With deboned salmon coming first on the list, followed by salmon meal, this recipe is highly concentrated in both protein and healthy fats. It contains plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat with digestible grain-free carbohydrates for energy. It contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Deboned salmon and salmon meal as main ingredients, no chicken ingredients, grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato protein), main source of fat is plant-based (sunflower oil)

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Sea with Salmon Limited Ingredient Diet

For dogs with food allergies and sensitivities, limited ingredient diets are a great choice. This Canidae Grain-Free PURE Sea with Salmon Limited Ingredient Diet is a wonderful option because it contains just 8 main ingredients including fresh salmon as the first ingredient. This recipe also contains supplemental proteins in the form of salmon meal and menhaden fish meal, both of which are highly concentrated. This formula contains grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas for digestibility with chelated minerals for nutritional support. It also contains probiotics to ensure healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Limited number of ingredients, fresh salmon as first ingredient, several supplemental animal proteins, grain-free carbohydrates for digestibility, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), very expensive to feed as a staple diet

Holistic Select Adult Health Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon Meals Recipe Dry Food

If you want to nourish your dog’s body from the inside out, try this Holistic Select Adult Health Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon Meals Recipe Dry Food. This recipe features all-natural ingredients like protein-rich anchovy and sardine meal as well as salmon meal. It contains digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal, with a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It contains fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support with chelated minerals for balance. You’ll also be glad to know that it is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and probiotics for digestion.

  • Pros: Several concentrated sources of protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, balance of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), not grain-free

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food

To provide your dog with a high-quality, balanced diet made from wholesome natural ingredients, try this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Food. This recipe features real salmon as the first ingredient with chicken meal and lamb meal for supplemental protein. It contains whole-grain carbohydrates like rice and sorghum as well as plenty of healthy fiber for digestion. It contains dried fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of key nutrients with chelated minerals for balance. You’ll also be glad to know that it is rich in natural flavor.

  • Pros: Fresh salmon as the main ingredient, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, dried fruits and veggies, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe, contains some chicken ingredients, no probiotic supplements

Salmon is a lean source of protein and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for your dog. If you’re thinking about making the switch, try one of the salmon dog foods reviewed above. Best of luck!

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