The 7 Best Dog Foods for Zinc Deficiency

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

The mineral zinc is an important part of keeping your dog healthy. It works in conjunction with proteins, hormones, and enzymes to support immune-system and thyroid function.

It is the second most important trace mineral required by your dog, and a zinc deficiency can lead to health problems, especially in the giant and large breeds, and is of special concern for Huskies and Malamutes.

Zinc deficiency can have multiple symptoms and can be mistaken for a food allergy. Propper levels of zinc in your dog’s diet goes a long way to having a healthy and happy pup.

Let’s take a look at seven zinc-rich dog foods.

The Best Dog Foods for Zinc Deficiency

Top PicksRatingMain Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free 
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Pea
2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free 4.8Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes
3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula 4.8Salmon, Barley, Ground Rice, Canola Meal, Oatmeal
4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison Grain-Free 4.7Deboned Bison, Fish Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch
5. Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.7Kangaroo, Kangaroo Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

1. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free 

The number one reason High Prairie grain-free is on the top of this list is that it contains seven high-quality meat varieties, including Buffalo, Lamb, Chicken, Venison, and Beef. Meat is the number one source of zinc, and this recipe is packed full of high-quality, meaty goodness. The minimum amount of zinc on the label is 150 mg/kg, which is more than enough for an average adult dog.

Other ingredients in this recipe improve zinc absorption, and it is free from absorption blocking ingredients like grains, gluten, and other additives. It is well-suited to almost all breeds, including the large and giant ones. I wouldn’t, however, recommend it for athletic and highly active breeds.

2. American Journey — Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free 

American Journey’s Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe is a great choice for zinc-deficient dogs who don’t like red meat or have any form sensitivities. It is a great recipe for picky eaters. Salmon and sweet potatoes offer great taste with quality proteins, and chickpeas are the cherry on top. It offers a minimum of 140 mg/kg of zinc per the label, and all the ingredients make absorption even easier.

What’s more: your dog gets a healthy blend of antioxidants, fatty acids, fiber, carbs, and phytonutrients. More omega 3 and 6 fatty acids mean it can also help with skin abnormalities developed due to zinc deficiency. Being grain and gluten-free makes this recipe an easy one to digest as well.

3. Purina—Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula 

As a recipe created for dogs with sensitive skin, Purina Pro Plan’s Focus contains a high amount of zinc as compared to other dog foods on the market, and the zinc is of high quality and is easy to absorb. It is one of the best options for zinc-deficient dogs suffering from zinc responsive dermatosis or any skin condition caused by a lack of zinc. It is a great option for large and fury breeds like huskies.

You get red salmon as the first meat source, which means you get leaner protein than most dog foods. So, if your dog is also on a weight-watch, this one will help it keep a check on the scale without limiting nutrition. While it isn’t completely grain-free, it doesn’t contain harmful fillers and additives.

4. Blue Buffalo—Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison Grain-Free 

The closer the meat is to its raw form, the higher the amount of zinc it will retain. So, while BARF may not be your dog’s preferred diet, Blue Buffalo Wilderness  Rocky Mountain Recipe is the next best thing. The first source of protein is deboned bison, a rich and novel source of high-quality zinc. And it’s not just any bison! It is a US-made product that claims to source meat from real American Bison.

Then you have the patented LifeSource Bits that also add zinc and plenty of other essential minerals to the meal. Overall, it is a healthy, grain-free formula that is easy on the stomach. It has plenty of zinc for the zinc-deficient ones and serves as a great alternative to a raw diet.

5. Zignature—Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Zinc deficiency can usually lead to many sensitivities. Most of these sensitivities are related to the ingredients your dog has already eaten. That is where novel proteins come in to save the day. And it doesn’t get any more novel than Kangaroo meat. That is what you get from Zignature Limited Ingredients Kangaroo formula. You get lots of zinc and balanced nutrition without tummy troubles.

It is a grain-free formula that only contains a handful of ingredients, all of them safe and stomach-friendly. None of the ingredients hinders nutrient absorption, which means you get the most out of the meal. Real Kangaroo meat is sourced from Australia.

Best Puppy Food for Zinc Deficiency

6. Purina ONE—SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Large breed puppies are more prone to diet-related zinc deficiency. If your big breed furry pup has been on a regular diet, it will not get enough zinc. But if the deficiency is caught in its early stages, you can manage it by switching to Purina ONE’s SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula. With 150 mg/kg of high-quality, easy-to-absorb zinc, your puppy gets more in every meal. The SmartBlend Formula offers a completely balanced diet and lots of antioxidants to take care of your pup’s overall health.

Best Dog Food for Zinc Deficiency in Seniors

7. Nutro—Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Many dogs develop zinc deficiency in their senior years. That is why it is a good idea to choose zinc-rich senior dog food, especially for large breed seniors. There are three lean protein sources, including farm-raised chicken, salmon, and pasture-fed lamb. All three protein sources are also quite rich in zinc. Your old pal gets 250 mg/kg, which is more than what you will find in most adult dog food formulas. Overall, It is perfect for large and giant breed seniors.



What is zinc deficiency in dogs?

Zinc deficiency in dogs results from lower zinc intake or zinc malabsorption. It can lead to a weaker immune system, which in turn makes a dog vulnerable to various infections and diseases. Long term zinc deficiency without proper is a serious condition and can, in some cases, prove fatal.

What is zinc-responsive dermatosis? 

Zinc-responsive dermatosis is the medical term used for skin abnormalities caused by zinc deficiency. It is sometimes used interchangeably with zinc deficiency, but it isn’t quite the same thing.

Is zinc important for dogs?

Zinc is the second most important trace mineral for your dog. It plays a vital role in digestion, metabolism, and various other functions of a canine body. It is also important for a stronger immune system and hormonal balance.

How much zinc does a dog need?

Daily zinc requirements for a dog varies according to breed, age, and even gender. However, on average, an adult dog needs not less than 25 mg of zinc per 50 pounds of its weight. It can be over 50 mg for larger, giant breeds, but never more than 100mgs.

What causes zinc deficiency in dogs?

There are different types of zinc deficiencies, and they may have different causes. Three common causes are lack of zinc in your dog’s diet, malabsorption of zinc by the intestine, and lower quality zinc in cheaper dog food.

How do I know my dog has a zinc deficiency?

There are many symptoms of zinc deficiency in dogs. Keep an eye for sudden hair loss, stunted growth in juveniles, constant lethargy, skin lesions around eyes or mouth, and thickened footpads. A sensitive tummy is another common sign of zinc deficiency.

Is zinc deficiency in dogs treatable?

Yes, zinc deficiency in dogs is treatable. However, it all begins with a proper diagnosis, which is the trickiest part. Visit a qualified vet to get your dog properly diagnosed for zinc deficiency.

How can I treat zinc deficiency in my dog?

The treatment of zinc deficiency in dogs depends on the underlying cause of the deficiency. The vet is most likely to suggest a different food and additional supplement. They may also ask you to stop any supplement that might be hindering zinc absorption.

What kind of dog foods are high in zinc?

Animal meat contains a high amount of zinc, especially red meat. Chicken and fish also have an adequate amount of zinc for dogs. Cereals such as soybean and peanut are also rich in zinc.

Which breeds are more susceptible to zinc deficiency?

Large and giant breeds are more susceptible to zinc deficiency as compared to smaller breeds: Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes are the breeds most often affected.

Is too much zinc dangerous for my dog?

Too much zinc can cause zinc toxicity over time. It is important to understand your dog’s exact zinc requirements according to its weight, age, and breed. A single dose should not exceed 225 mg.

Are zinc creams safe for dogs?

While most zinc creams are safe as a topical application in dogs, they are toxic if ingested even in a small amount. It is almost impossible to keep your dog from licking or scratching the cream off, so it is best to avoid topical creams.

Do puppies need zinc in their diet?

Yes, zinc is extremely important for puppies. Zinc deficiency in puppies can lead to stunted growth and various other health issues. It can also reduce the life expectancy of your puppy.

Can puppies have a zinc deficiency?

Yes, puppies can also suffer from zinc deficiencies, especially large and giant breed puppies. It is important to feed them quality puppy food with a good amount of zinc.

Can senior dogs have a zinc deficiency?

Yes, senior dogs are often more susceptible to zinc deficiency or zinc-responsive dermatosis. It is often due to low-quality dog food or supplements that hinder zinc absorption.

Buyers Guide: Best Dog Foods for Zinc Deficiency

Now that it is clear that your dog’s diet has a lot to do with zinc deficiency and it’s treatment, let’s move on to some more information about zinc-rich diet and the right dog food for your zinc deficient baby.

What to Look for In Dog Food for Zinc Deficiency? 

First of all, look for quality real meat sources as they contain the highest amount of zinc. Raw diet gives you the highest amount of zinc naturally found in the meat. Always look for whole meat instead of meat meals and by-products.

Red meat and novel protein sources have the highest amount of zinc. Chicken, egg, rabbit, and turkey are also good sources of zinc. Here is a list of ingredients you should look for:

  • Beef
  • Buffalo
  • Pork
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Ostrich
  • Turkey
  • Egg
  • Halibut
  • Sardine
  • Fish oil

What to Avoid In Dog food for Zinc Deficiency?

What to avoid is slightly more important than what you should look for because zinc deficiency is often caused due to malabsorption. Read on to find out why

When looking at your dog’s diet, be aware of the following:

  • Grains:Grain, especially wheat and corn, can bind with zinc and hinder zinc absorption. A grain-free diet is the healthiest for most dogs.
  • By-products:Meat by-products and processed forms of meat do not contain as much zinc as your dog needs.
  • Zinc sources: Cheaper zinc sources such as zinc oxide or zinc sulfate do not yield any benefit because they aren’t easily absorbed.

That said, it is worth noting that cheaper dog food brands often include over-processed protein sources that lack the amount of zinc otherwise found in raw meat. You might see a good percentage of zinc on the label, but most of it is either zinc oxide or zinc sulfate, both of which are not absorbed by a dog’s body. So, those low-quality foods will not help overcome the deficiency, but rather make it worse.

Let’s not forget that puppies and seniors are also prone to zinc deficiency; many large breed dogs develop zinc deficiency later in life. That is why it is important to cover zinc-rich dog foods for all life stages.