A lot of pet owners don’t realize that each dog has different diet needs, especially those who are more active. This could be dogs who compete in competitions, or those who run or hike miles with their owners. Feeding an athletic dog is not complicated, but it does require careful diligence. A very active dog needs a high-performance dog food that contains proteins, essential fatty acids, and low levels of carbohydrates. More importantly, the quality of the food matters even more.

High quality dog foods aren’t just great for active dogs, but should be given to other dogs as well. Cheap dog foods with fillers won’t bring any nutritional value for your pup. Were here to help you find the best dog foods for your active pup that focus on macronutrients, such as proteins, amino acids, fats, and carbs. Plus, these dog foods also include trace elements like vitamins and minerals.

An Athletic Dog’s Diet

Dogs that are more active require a more demanding and nutrient rich diet. Many athletic dogs need up to 10,000 calories per day. This is a great difference compared to a moderate active dog who needs 800 calories per day. However, this does not mean to fill your dog up with as much food as they can eat. It is important to consider which foods your dog gets his energy.

You should pay attention to the type of food, portion size, and the intervals between meals. If your dog competes, they may have special dietary requirements during training seasons. Not all dog foods are suitable for active dogs because of the proteins and carbs. Dogs who use up all their fuel faster than others need more nutrients to sustain their health and weight.

Important Nutrients for Active Dogs

Below are essential nutrients active dogs should consume to stay healthy. However, it is important to remember that evert dog has different dietary needs depending on their body and lifestyle, so use this guide as a rough estimate.


Most of the best high-performance dog food contains 20 to 30 percent of protein. Not only do you want a dog food that is high in protein, but you also want the protein to be high-quality. Some commercial dog foods rely on vegetable protein, which this will increase your dog’s body fat but reduce your dog’s muscle mass. However, some dogs need these diets because they have sensitivities to meat protein.

Furthermore, make sure the protein does not come from meat by-products. There is no guarantee that your dog will be able to efficiently digest and use it for energy. Meat by-products include animal parts such as feet, beaks, and tails, rather than muscle. High quality proteins contain amino acids needed to restore damaged tissue, build muscle, and maintain energy levels. This is very beneficial for active dogs because they are constantly putting their muscles under stress, meaning they will need nutrients to repair them.

Essential Fatty Acids

In order for your pup to maintain a healthy coat and skin, fatty acids you want to look for include omega-6 and omega-3. Not only will it give your dog a shiny, beautiful look but these fatty acids will also provide protection from parasites they could be exposed to during high-performance activities. The fatty acids can be found in meat such as fish and chicken.

Furthermore, fats are also important for endurance activities because after carbohydrates are used up, the body turns to the fats to keep its energy levels going. However, before feeding your dog a high-fat diet, you should be honest about their activity levels. When dogs don’t truly require it, they could become overweight and develop health problems. But, if you add the right amount of fatty acids to your dog’s diet, there will be tons of benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and strong joints!


Dogs who do moderate exercise won’t benefit from carbohydrates as much as high-performance dogs will. Active dogs will quickly and efficiently absorb and use carbs for quick bursts of energy. This is especially beneficial for dogs who compete in sports or activities such as sprinting. You want to make sure you do not overdo it with the carbs as this could lead to your dog feeling sluggish or cause digestive issues.

Vitamins and Minerals

The most important vitamins for active dogs include vitamins A and D and B-complex vitamins such as B1, B3, and B12. Vitamins are essential for your dog’s body to use the energy stored. However, you want to be careful not to add too much vitamins to your dog’s diet because this can lead to vitamin toxicity of the liver.

Minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium chloride, provide your dog with regulating fluid, which allows nerves and muscles to function. Other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus aid in the formation and protection of bone and cartilage.

Best Dog Food for Active Dogs

1. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance Formula is a complete dog food filled with protein and healthy fats. Plus, it contains glucosamine that helps strengthen dogs’ joints and mobility. This formula has real chicken as its first ingredient and contains various amino acids that help dogs recover and rebuild stronger muscles. This is a great dog food for athletic and muscular dogs that exercise a lot. 

It’s made with real, all-natural ingredients such as chicken, rice, fish meal, fish oil, dried egg, vitamin E, and many more healthy ingredients. This kibble is high-quality and provides dogs with healthy fats to fuel their bodies for high and intense activity levels. Not only does this formula contain healthy ingredients but it also increases dog’s metabolism for endurance all day long. It also helps dogs to perform better during long training sessions on top of the regular daily activities.

2. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food

Next, AvoDerm Natural Dog Food is a high protein dog food that is great for very active adult dogs. This formula is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that come from quality chicken, lamb, and turkey. It also includes avocado, apple, brown rice, flax seed, alfalfa meal, herring, and kelp meals. Plus, there are various other ingredients that will benefit your dog’s overall health. AvoDerm Dog Food contains omega-rich Californian avocados, which have a ton of benefits from softer skin to being a natural source of vitamins and antioxidants for a healthier immune system.

Additionally, this kibble does not contain any corn, wheat, or artificial colorings. Dogs will easily be able to digest this formula, so it great for dogs with digestive problems. With high quality ingredients, this dog food will boost your pup’s energy and health for a happy and healthy dog. It will also allow your dog to perform activities longer and stronger.

3. Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Protein Dog Food is a highly digestible formula with superfoods and antioxidants. It contains a variety of foods such as bison, venison, lamb meal, chicken, egg, sweet potato, peas, potatoes, and many other yummy and healthy ingredients. This unique mix provides dogs with energy and stamina to perform very high-intensity trainings. The kibble contains roasted bison as its first and main ingredient, which provides dogs with protein for lean, strong muscles. This formula is made of real meat to give dogs amino acids to recover and feel good after intense activity.

The all-natural dog food is made with fruits, vegetables and superfoods for optimal health! The antioxidants provide dogs with vitamins and minerals for their skin and coat plus their cognitive functions. All of the ingredients come from trusted sources from around the world with no grain, corn, wheat, or any other fillers.

4. Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Wellness CORE Dog Food is great for athletic dogs. This tasty wet dog food contains salmon, whitefish, herring, sweet potatoes, and yummy greens. It is 100% grain free, which makes it very digestible and nutritious for dogs. Feeding your dog Wellness CORE will help to improve the performance of the digestive system, which will provide dogs with a happier and healthier lifestyle! It is full of antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics. This canned dog food will not only improve your dog’s immune system, but it will also provide your dog with healthier eyes, teeth, gum, and a better digestive system.

5. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Dog Food

Lastly, the Canidae Grain Free Pure Dog Food is specially made with small and large breeds, puppies, and adult dogs. They offer a range of flavors with grain-free kibble and 10 key ingredients and probiotics. Plus, it contains 32% protein, and 18% fat. This formula also contains essential vitamins and nutrients including B vitamins and magnesium. Dogs will love this simple formula because there aren’t any ingredients that could cause allergies or food sensitivities.

However, just because it’s simple does not mean it doesn’t contain necessary nutrients. This formula has essential ingredients to provide dogs with beneficial nutrients for a better overall health. Canidae is great for active dogs with sensitive digestion.