The 14 Best Dog Foods for Active Dogs

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

This (updated) guide lists the best dog foods for active dogs this year.

Puppies usually become less active as they grow up.

But NOT all breeds…From short-legged Corgis to muscular Shepherds, some breeds are generally more active than others – and they will stay that way throughout their life – if provided the right dog food.

Finding the best dog food for active dogs is not an easy feat. You need to find the perfect balance of proteins and fats, plus all the essential nutrients to strengthen their skeletal structure. Of course, you can’t ignore their digestive or immune systems either.

A lot of pet parents believe that it is impossible to find this kind of balance in commercial dog food and resort to homemade recipes.

But if you read the labels carefully and know what to look for, I believe you can find commercially prepared foods that hit the mark consistently without the guesswork and labor involved in homemade recipes.

We’ve found not just one, but fifteen options that are proper fuel for your active dog. Let’s have a look at my top five best dog food for active dogs.

The Best Dog Foods for Active Dogs

Top PicksRatingMain Ingredients
1. Purina — Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Formula 
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewer’s Rice, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Poultry By-Product Meal
2. Solid Gold — Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free4.8Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas
3. Eukanuba — Premium Performance 30/20 Adult Dry Dog Food 4.7Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Meal, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
4. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.8Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
5. AvoDerm — Natural Triple Protein Meal Formula All Life Stages 4.7Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Turkey Meal, Ground White Rice

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Best Active Dog Food Reviews

1. Purina — Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Formula 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Corn Gluten Meal, 3. Brewer’s Rice, 4. Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, 5. Poultry By-Product Meal

Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Formula is hands down one of the finest high energy formulas with the perfect balance of quality proteins and healthy fats. A recipe specifically created with the most active dogs in mind.

What I love about this formula is that it focuses just as much on bone and joints as it does on the muscles and energy level of your dogs. It has a good amount of DHA, EPA, glucosamine, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids – all these ingredients ensure better mobility and keep joint issues at bay.

2. Solid Gold — Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Lentils, 5. Peas

It’s not just couch potatoes that can have sensitive stomachs; active dogs can have them too. And this can make choosing their diet a little difficult. One of the safest options is Solid Gold’s ‘Leaping Waters’ recipe. Its sole source of protein is salmon. Other key ingredients include chickpeas and tapioca.

That’s not all! Solid Gold Leaping Waters has a powerful blend of 20 superfoods that strengthen the immune system of your furry friend, making them less susceptible to sickness. The added strain of probiotics aids the digestion process to prevent tummy troubles.

3. Eukanuba — Premium Performance 30/20 Adult Dry Dog Food 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal , 3. Corn Meal, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum

With a perfect 30/20 balance, this dog food is on the top of my list for good reasons. It is perfectly suitable for athletic breeds and active dogs. The proteins in this dog food come from chicken meat and chicken meal. Chicken by-product meal isn’t always a recommended ingredient, but when it comes to the high energy needs of highly active dogs, it isn’t a bad bargain.

Besides proteins, chicken by-product meal adds enough fat to keep your baby going,  and it also contains the level of calcium needed to support healthy bones. Additionally, this dog food features the 3D DentaDefense System to keep your baby’s teeth strong, healthy, and tartar-free.

4. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

This offering from Taste of the Wild is on many of the ‘Best Food’ lists we create. It has a perfect balance of proteins, fats, and essential nutrients. With proteins from buffalo, lamb, and chicken, Taste of the Wild High Prairie will help your active friend stay fit and energetic throughout the day.

Aside from containing essential nutrients, High Prairie is formulated to ensure proper absorption of all these nutrients. Plus, it is a grain-free recipe that doesn’t contain any common allergens. It contains a canine strain probiotic blend, which makes it a good option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

5. AvoDerm — Natural Triple Protein Meal Formula All Life Stages 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Ground Brown Rice, 3. Lamb Meal, 4. Turkey Meal, 5. Ground White Rice

AvoDerm contains animal protein from three sources: chicken, lamb, and turkey meal. While it may not have as much protein and fat as other options so far, I choose it because the formula ensures better absorption of nutrients than most commercial dog foods.

Moreover, fats come from quality ingredients such as avocado oil, a good fat that will provide your active one energy throughout the day. What’s more: This balanced formula is suitable for all life stages. 

6. VICTOR — Performance Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Grain Sorghum, 3. Whole Grain Millet, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Blood Meal

Victor Performance is another good choice for sporty and active dogs. 80 percent of the content is meat but the formula isn’t just rich in fat and protein, it also contains a number of essential nutrients that ensure healthy bones and mobility. This glucosamine and chondroitin rich formula ensures a trouble-free transition from adulthood to senior years. It is highly recommended for large muscular yet active breeds that are susceptible to joint issues.

7. Diamond — Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula Dry Dog Food 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Chicken, 3. Ground White Rice, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Cracked Pearled Barley

As the name suggests, this formula by Diamond Naturals is meant for highly active breeds. With more than four thousand calories per kg, this dog food is a suitable choice for dogs that are into sports. What I like about this product is that aside from proteins and fats, it is also rich in healthy carbs. So, for a dog that doesn’t have a sensitive stomach, this can be a perfect option. And in case you are wondering, the proteins come from cage-free chicken raised in a healthy environment

8. Dr. Tim’s — Active Dog Pursuit Formula Dry Dog Food 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Whole Oat Groats, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

This dog food has a lot of expertise backing the recipe. Created by veterinary experts and canine nutritionist, Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit Formula Dry Dog Food has a beautifully balanced recipe that can give your baby the right amount of fats and proteins in every meal. The recipe is prepared through a slow-cooking method to retain taste and nutrients of the ingredients. Nearly 86 percent of the content in this can is meat. If you think this can cause tummy troubles, it actually has patented probiotic and fiber blend to aid digestion.

9. Sport Dog Food — Elite Series Working Dog Turkey Formula Grain-Free 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey Meal, 2. Dried Sweet Potato, 3. Chicken Fat , 4. Coconut Meal, 5. Cassava Root

This is another formula created for athletes and working dogs. The Elite Series by Sport Dog Food contains Turkey meat sourced from US based farms. This novel source combined with healthy fats give your baby lean strong muscles and a powerful boost of energy. What I like about it is the fact that it is a great option for sensitive tummies. There are no grains and legumes to worry about. Plus, you get perfectly balanced nutrients in every bowl, with no filler ingredient. While it is great for large and medium sized breeds, it may not be the best option for smaller breeds.

The Best Food for Active Puppies

Almost all puppies are active, but if you have an active breed, it is going to be a lot more active than the rest. There are some really good puppy foods out there that can meet the extra high calorie requirement of your pup without causing any trouble.

10. Kinetic Performance — Puppy 28K Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Ground Sorghum, 5. Chicken Fat

With almost flawless customer ratings on all channels, Kinetic Performance Puppy 28K Formula is my top recommendation for little ones who just can’t sit in a place. Since puppies are usually more active than adult dogs, this recipe contains chicken meal and chicken by-product meal, both of which tend to have more fat and protein than chicken. Besides physical health, this dog food also takes care of your pup’s brain and vision development. Not to mention, this product gets extra points because of its taste as well.

11. VICTOR — Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Blood Meal, 3. Whole Grain Millet, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Yeast Culture

This is the second Victor on my list; this one is for the little ones though. Like the adult recipe, this too is a nutrient-dense option that contains lots of proteins and fats and just the right amount of carbs to keep their energy level high throughout the day. It is a good option for pups training to be athletes. You get 92 percent meat proteins and healthy balance of minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.  The best part is: this recipe is created with sensitive tummies in mind.

12. FirstMate — Endurance/Puppy Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Formula Limited Ingredient Diet

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Potato, 2. Pacific Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Tomato Pomace, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Fish Oil

Another great option for active puppies with sensitive tummies, FirstMate Ocean Fish Meal Formula is a delicious puppy food packed with essential nutrients. Your pup gets the right amount of protein for lean muscle development and healthy fats to fuel their activities. All the proteins come from a single source in this limited ingredient recipe. One of the main ingredient is potato that add optimal level of carbs in your baby’s diet. I recommend this formula as a good option for active pups who are recovering from illness.

The Best Dog Food for Active Senior Dogs

It is not uncommon for the activity level of your dogs to drop as they grow into seniors. Many still manage to indulge in regular play and exercise. I have picked dog foods that can not only keep your pal’s energy levels high but also support healthy joint function and mobility.

1. Iams — ProActive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Ground Whole Grain Barley, 4. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 5. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum

Your old pal may not be as active as it was in its days of youth, but it still has a unique set of requirements. Iams Proactive Health does the job quite nicely. While it is a high protein formula, the amount fat is lowered to match the changing lifestyle and activity level of your older dog. Aside from healthy bones and muscles, the formula also has L-carnitine, Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene to take care of their heart and mind.

2. Merrick — Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes

This one is an option suitable for smaller breeds, which are sometimes more active than larger ones. Merrick Little Plates has animal protein sourced from deboned chicken and chicken meal. The latter is a good source of glucosamine, the compound essential for healthy bones in later years. Chondroitin is also there to support healthy joint and hips. Since dogs can become less active with age, this recipe has lower fat and carbs to meet their new needs. Moreover, this grain-free formula contains fiber and probiotics to ease digestion.

3. CANIDAE—Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Recipe 

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Garbanzo Beans

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior is another regular on my senior dog food list. I really like how balanced this formula is for almost every breed. It is a limited ingredient recipe for sensitive tummies but won’t cut down on the amount of proteins and nutrients your dog needs at this age. It is free of filler ingredients and only contains high quality meat and vegetables loaded with nutrients. What’s more: It is extremely delicious. So, if your pal has become picky with age, this can be a great food for it.

FAQs: Best Dog Foods for Active Dogs

Before we move on to more food options, let’s try and answer some questions you may have up to this point.

Do active dogs need more food?

Not necessarily. How much your dog eats depends largely on its breed and size. A dog’s activity level can affect their appetite to an extent, but it has more to do with their desire to eat than nutritional needs. The nutritional needs of an active dog have more to do with the nutrients and calories of their food.

How much should I feed my active dog?

On average, an adult dog needs to eat twice a day, while puppies can eat around four to five times. Two meals a day are okay for an active dog but it should be high-calorie premium food with more proteins and fats. For athletic dogs, however, some vets recommend feeding smaller but more frequent meals throughout the day.

What should I look for in dog food for my active dog?

The first thing you need to look for in food for active dogs is protein and fats. Their metabolism processes fats differently. Protein is what keeps their muscle strong enough to support an active lifestyle, and fat is what converts into energy.

Do active dogs needs more carbohydrates?

As far as your dog’s nutritional requirements are concerned, they do not need dietary carbohydrates. Carbs do not convert into energy for them. It’s fat that gives them energy. Breakdown of protein and fat oxidation is what converts into energy.

Why do active dogs need more fat?

Fat, for the dog, is the fuel they need to stay active and agile. Their bodies convert fat, not carbs, into energy. It is their endurance fuel. That said, a dog that is not too active will gain weight if fed dog food that is high in fat. So, you need to adjust the amount of fat you feed according to your pet’s activity level.

Why do active dogs need more proteins?

For dogs, proteins and fats go hand in hand. Protein builds muscles strong enough to support their activity. When muscles aren’t strong enough, all the strain of their activity falls on bones and joints. Muscles that aren’t strong enough can lead to mobility issues and joint-related problems.

Should a dog eat right before or after exercise?

No. You should never feed a dog right before or after exercise or strenuous activity. It can put too much pressure on the intestines, which sometimes causes bloating. Give them at least an hour before and after intense activity.

How many calories do active dogs need?

According to experts, this can vary from dog to dog. On average, a medium-sized adult dog that needs around 30 calories per pound of its body weight per day. However, for an active breed, it shouldn’t be less than 40 calories per pound of its weight every day.

Can I feed whey protein to my active dog?

Yes, whey protein is a good option for active dogs, especially if their favorite dog food is unable to fulfill their nutritional needs, and they are too picky eaters. Whey protein has a better rate of absorption than regular food protein and contains plenty of amino acids.

Should active dogs be on a raw diet?

A raw diet is a good option for active dogs; it mimics their ancestral diet. The diet they used to enjoy in the wild. More importantly, it’s a diet tailored to meet their lifestyle demands. Since the demands of active and athletic dogs are quite similar, a raw diet makes complete sense for them.

Are grains good for active dogs?

Grains aren’t particularly bad for dogs but are sometimes avoided because some dogs may be allergic or sensitive to them. However, grains aren’t just rich in carbs; they are great sources of proteins and fiber as well. So, for a dog that doesn’t have a sensitive tummy or any other allergy, grains are good for them.

Which grains are good for active dogs?

While grains are safe for most dogs, it is best to avoid ones that are most likely to cause allergies or indigestion. Regular grains such as wheat and white rice aren’t particularly safe bets. You can opt for whole grains such as brown rice or oatmeal.

Which dog breeds are active dog breeds?

Working and hunting breeds are most likely to be active. Some good examples include Dalmation, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Siberian Husky, and Beagles. Active dogs don’t necessarily belong to one specific size category. From toy breeds to giant breeds, the dog’s size has little to do with their activity level

Buyer’ Guide: Best Dog Food for Active Dogs

I always emphasize knowing your dog’s breed and its needs before you can go on your hunt for the best dog food. There is a lot to know about your dog. The first thing being: Is it an active dog?

So, let’s start with what exactly is an active dog and whether your baby fits in that category.

An active dog is a term that most perfectly defines working and hunting dogs. In urban areas, you may not find a lot of working and hunting dogs, but there are active dogs that engage in exercise and similar activities. For instance, a dog that enjoys morning jogs with its partner, multiple times a day,

The point being, while breed plays an important role, lifestyle and training also play their part. Your dog’s energy level can change due to numerous external factors, including weather.

More Energy, More Food

Now, this is a myth.

Active dogs aren’t always hungry for more food and they don’t need to eat more than they want to Again, it’s not unusual to find an active dog that will demand more food, but as a pet parent, you should know where to draw a line. What they do need is the right amount of calories from dog food that has the best ingredients that can provide a balanced diet while preventing allergies and similar problems.

An active dog needs more calories, but that doesn’t always mean more food.

To cut it short, you need a quality product with the right amount of proteins and fats.

Proteins and Fats

There is a reason your dog needs both proteins and fats together; the former is for muscle development while the latter converts into energy.

According to veterinarians, the ideal ratio of protein and fat in dog food is 30:20 i.e. 30 percent proteins and 20 percent fat. However, you can also go for dog food at a ratio of 28:7. With lower proteins, the muscles won’t be strong enough to endure the strain of activity. This will further put a strain on joints and bones.

Similarly, for fat, one thing leads to another. Fat converts in energy and with a lack of fat, your baby may never feel energetic enough to enjoy the activities it wants to enjoy.

Did you know not being able to play as much as it wants can make your baby sad and depressed?

Just make sure your baby has enough fats to enjoy all the activities it wants.

Beyond Protein and Fats

Aside from protein and fats, your baby will need several other nutrients to live a healthy and happy life. I always recommend foods that have fruits and vegetables because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are also known antioxidants to keep the immune system running without fail.

Grains are also a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and even proteins. I am never completely against grains but if your pup has a sensitive tummy, then it is best to avoid them


Besides grains, there are a few more things you need to avoid.

  • Never feed your dog right before or right after exercise. Wait at least an hour.
  • Don’t feed them table scraps. It may be full of fat but its not the right kind or amount of fat for your pal.
  • Don’t switch to a different dog food immediately. Your dog will take time to adjust to a new high-protein, high-fat recipe. Give it around 3 weeks and follow the proper transition method.

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