10 Best Novel Protein Dog Foods


– Novel proteins are special animal proteins that are less common than the chicken or beef present in regular dog food formulations.

– By including new protein dog foods in your dog's diet, you may give him the special amino acids and other nutrients that he wouldn't normally get by only eating chicken or beef-based diets.

– More water intake and hydration are required to promote digestion when protein levels are increased. Therefore, when introducing additional proteins, it's a good idea to blend wet foods and dry kibble.

Looking for the best novel protein dog foods?

Novel proteins today are more easily available due to increased food allergies in dogs and the growing popularity of novel protein dog foods.

Some pet food formulas that often contain novel proteins are those that have labels of “Grain-free,” “Sensitive Stomach,” or “Limited Ingredient.

In this article, you will learn the best novel protein dog foods and the pros and cons of each brand.

There is also the best protein dog food, especially for pooches with allergies.

Best Novel Protein Dog Foods – What is a Novel Protein?

Novel protein is a term for any protein that your pet hasn’t eaten yet.

The most common proteins (non-novel) found in dog foods are beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb.

These four are also the most common meat ingredients that dogs are allergic to (1, 2, 3).

These not-so-common novel proteins are typically rabbit, herring, venison, bison, duck, and salmon.

Even the best novel protein dog foods aren't “better” than regular meat kibble.

However, you may choose a dog food with a novel protein source over traditional meat sources when your pet develops allergies or food sensitivity.

Generally, dogs can develop food sensitivities after eating the same protein over a long period of time (4).

Food allergies or stomach sensitivity in dogs can result in excessive itching and scratching, dry, flaky skin, and gastrointestinal upset (5).

Choosing the Best Novel Protein Dog Food Brand

Things can get complicated when it comes to food allergies in dogs.

The same goes for choosing appropriate foods to deal with this issue.

You may think that you only need to pick a dog food brand that contains a novel protein as the first ingredient.

Unfortunately, pet food manufacturers' mislabeling and contamination are common problems.

For example, a 2018 study analyzed many dog food brands made for allergic dogs or used as part of the elimination diet.

They found that contamination and inaccurate labels were far more common than originally believed.

Pet foods that were supposed to be single-protein dog food actually contained small parts of another meat source.

These weren't even mentioned on the label.

Unfortunately, there is little pet owners can do other than pay attention to the company's reputation.

Most don't even know how well their “hypoallergenic dog food formulas” or “novel protein dog food formulas” work with allergic pets.

Brands like Merrick, Taste of the Wild, and Earthborn are slowly earning a good name among owners and have been included in the best novel protein dog foods below.

Tips on Switching to Novel Protein Dog Food

After you realize that previous dog food is the culprit of your pet's allergies, you may try a novel protein dog food brand (some of which are similar to hypoallergenic foods).

Still, you must do the switch carefully to avoid GI issues.

1. Read the ingredient’s label on the new dog food bag (some companies use traditional and novel proteins in the same recipe, but you only want novel protein).

2. Mix ¼ of your dog’s new food (daily intake) with the old food for two days.

3. After, mix ½ your dog’s old food with the new food for two days again.

4. On days five and six, use ¾ of the new food mixed in with the old kibble.

5. Day seven, feed your dog 100% of the new (novel protein) dog food brand.

Note: This feeding schedule is the optimal time frame for dogs who aren’t getting any gastrointestinal upset from the new food brand.

If your pup develops diarrhea, vomiting, itchiness, or other adverse effects from the new food, discontinue use immediately.

10 Best Novel Protein Dog Foods


Earthborn Holistic Venture Smoked Wild Boar

Venture Smoked Wild Boar & Butternut Squash Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

This recipe starts with fresh Wild Boar that is humanely hunted in the wild across wooded landscapes of Europe. Added to this food is handpicked, vine-ripened butternut squash from Central America. Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

It's also a good source of fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

NO Grain, NO Gluten, NO Peas, NO Lentils, NO Legumes, NO Potato, NO Egg, NO Chicken, NO Colorants, NO Fillers, NO By-Products, NO Artificial Preservatives, and NO Genetically Modified Ingredients.

PROS: Made from real wild boar, no additives, preservatives, or bad fillers. It is specially Formulated as a Grain and gluten-free Alternative Diet for Dogs with Sensitivities. Enriched with Added Taurine to Help Support Your Dog’s Heart Health

CONS: Higher price-point

2 Taste of the Wild – Roasted Bison & Venison

Taste of the Wild with Ancient Grains, Ancient Prairie Canine Recipe with Roasted Bison and Venison Dry Dog Food, Made with High Protein from Real Meat and Guaranteed Nutrients and Probiotics 5lb

Taste of the Wild is well-known and loved among pet owners, and they're also the second pick among the best novel protein dog foods that are still relatively affordable. Buffalo and pork are the first ingredients in Taste of the Wild, with roasted venison for added flavor.

Many owners were able to treat food allergies in their dogs successfully with this brand.

This recipe also includes Ancient whole grains in the form of grain sorghum, millet, quinoa, and chia, which have added protein and are also a good source of carbohydrates and fiber.

The total protein in Taste of the Wild is 32%, which is great for active dogs.

The food is made in the USA with highly digestible food sources.

This recipe also includes added probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.

PROS: Pasture-raised real meat in the recipe uses ancient grains, added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, is USA-made, has no artificial colors or preservatives, has Omega fatty-acid blends

CONS: Higher price-point, still uses chicken meal.


Merrick Backcountry Wilderness Blend

Merrick Grain Free Wet Dog Food Wilderness Blend - (12) 12.7 oz. Cans (Adult Favorites)Duck, Bison, and Venison are the first ingredients in the Merrick brand canned dog food. This highly-rated company has also added Omegas for healthy skin and coat, removed all those bad grains, and replaced them with whole vegetables and a savory gravy for added flavor and moisture.

This recipe is also loaded with added vitamins and minerals.

This dog food provides high-quality protein that helps build and maintain healthy muscle tissue and energy levels in your dog.

PROS: Made from duck, bison, and venison, whole vegetables & gravy, plenty of added vitamins and minerals, uses fresh ingredients, hand-crafted in small batches for better quality control, and made in the USA from locally sourced farmers.

CONS: Contains 9% crude fat content 

4 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe High Protein, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Bison 22-lb

This recipe doesn't use chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives, so it's good for dogs with food issues. The protein-rich formula uses bison meat as the novel source, with the added benefit of their LifeSource Bits, containing alfalfa, cranberries, flaxseed, blueberries, and parsley.

Although these “bits” are loaded with healthy ingredients, they tend to sink to the bottom of the bag.

It is recommended to shake or mix the bag's contents before serving.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe is among the best novel protein dog foods out there also because it's been carefully balanced by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists so that you can feed your pet food backed by professionals.

The kibble size is average, which should work for most canines.

PROS: Real meat as the first ingredient, no additives or preservatives, no cheap fillers (corn, wheat, soy), never uses chicken or by-products, has added Omega 3 & 6 vitamins, specially formulated LifeSource Bits.

CONS: The price point is higher, and LifeSource Bits tend to sink to the bottom of the bag.

5 Orijen – 6 Fish Formula

ORIJEN Six Fish Dry Dog Food, Grain Free and Chicken Free Dog Food, Fresh or Raw Ingredients, 13lbFinally, if your dog likes the taste of fish, then Orijen 6 Fish Formula may be a top fish option among these best novel protein dog foods. It contains a mix of six different fish.

Here's the breakdown: Pacific Pilchard (18%), Mackerel (13%), Hake (12%), Flounder (5%), Rockfish (5%), and Sole (5%), along with other dehydrated fish sources like sardines, herring, and cod.

Along with all this seafood, Orijen 6 Fish Formula is packed with fresh fruits and vegetables.

These include lentils, chickpeas, and pinto beans for added fiber and a good source of carbohydrates.

Spinach, cranberries, and blueberries are also present, which will give your dog added antioxidants for a strong immune system.

Although this Orijen recipe smells strong of fish, its overall recipe is a solid choice for protein, vitamins, and minerals, including turmeric root, milk thistle, burdock root, lavender, marshmallow root, and rosehips.

PROS: It uses many different whole fish types in the recipe that have been processed, either raw or flash-frozen, well-balanced with fresh fruits and veggies, added vitamins and minerals, no bad grains, and great for all life stages.

CONS: Higher price-point, smells very fishy.

Beyond the Novel Protein Dog Food…

6 Zignature Kangaroo Dog Food

Zignature Dog Food, Kangaroo, 12.5 Pounds

The Zignature company is taking the novel meat idea to new levels with kangaroo. It deserves mention on this list of the best novel protein dog foods, particularly for owners who've already tried everything else without success.

This meat is high in lean protein and low in saturated fat. The recipe is also grain-free, so it’s great for dogs with insulin issues.

The recipe is rounded out with the addition of alfalfa, chickpeas, flax, and green peas.

The guinea fowl is sourced from Western France and is naturally high in protein and vitamin B6.

Zignature’s tagline is “We never play chicken,” guaranteeing their blends are chicken and egg-free.

Zignature also makes a kangaroo recipe with meat sourced from Australia.

PROS: Truly a novel blend with no bad grains, uses the latest advancements in nutritional science for superior recipes, is grain-free, uses low-glycemic ingredients such as chickpeas and green peas, and has quality assurance.

CONS: Higher price-point

7 Ostrich Chips with Beetroot

Mosaic Exotic Dog Treats Ostrich Chips (Beetroot)If you're switching to novel protein dog foods, then you may need to switch your treats, too. Ostrich meat is higher in protein and is leaner meat for dogs with both food sensitivities and weight issues, and it's rare enough to introduce something new.

These jerky treats are grain-free (no wheat, soy, or gluten) and contain pumpkin and chia seeds.

Another important quality is all the USA-sourced ingredients are from grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and growth-hormone-free birds.

Plus, the designs are burger-shaped treats for all sizes of dogs and provide a good chewy texture.

PROS: Food is sourced in the USA, no growth hormones or antibiotics are used in the birds, it is grain-free, low in fat, and has a chewy texture.

CONS: Turkey is the second ingredient.


Fruitables Healthy Dog Treats Pumpkin & Blueberries

Fruitables Baked Dog Treats – Healthy Low Calorie , Free of Wheat, Corn and Soy – Pumpkin and Blueberry – 12 Ounces

This Fruitables dog treats are made from wholesome real pumpkins and blueberries. It also uses pumpkin to help reduce calories so you can treat your pet guilt-free. Dogs love this because of the great smell and the crunchy baked texture.

These baked dog treats have a unique flower shape and a satisfying crunch that dogs love.

PROS: Low-calorie treat, no artificial preservatives, made in the USA in small batches, cookies are crunchy and reasonably priced.

CONS: Some report they are too crunchy, even hard

9 Blue Natural Veterinary Diet

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet NP Novel Protein Dry Dog Food, Alligator 22-lb bagAlligator is the novel protein found in this Blue Natural Veterinary dry food for dogs. This has been crafted with real alligators (and no other animal proteins), rarely associated with sensitivity issues.

The recipe also includes omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil and flaxseed for good skin and coat health.

This isn't the most popular among the best novel protein dog foods.

However, this recipe is balanced well for dogs with food allergies.

They have also left out most of the grains to which dogs generally are allergic (corn, wheat, and soy).

It's also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support a healthy immune system.

PROS: Made from real alligator meat, grain-free, added omegas/vitamins/minerals, rich in antioxidants, smooth pate for picky pooches.

CONS: Alligator is an extremely novel protein, so some dogs may not eat it.

10 Vet Recommended Yak Chews

Vet Recommended Yak Chew for Small Dogs Made from Himalayan Yak Milk (20 Count / 1.54LB). The 100% Natural Healthy Dog Chew - Extreme Long Lasting Cheese Chew

As the last option among the best novel protein dog foods, the ingredients of these long-lasting chews are Yak milk, salt, and lime juice. This vet-recommended dog chews don't contain any gluten, preservatives, chemicals, or grains.

So, your sensitive dog can chew to his heart's content.

The hard texture of the Vet Recommended Yak Chews brand will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on your dog's teeth.

It also works well for aggressive chewers.

When you open the package, you will notice these chews have a low odor compared to some brands.

Also, one chew will last your dog for hours or even days (depending on the breed and amount chewed on).

After opening the package, you will want to keep these treats in a cool, dry place to prevent them from getting moldy.

Another benefit of the Vet-Recommended Yak Chew is that once it is already too small, pop it into the microwave for 45 seconds to soften it.

Let cool for two minutes before serving.

Your dog will love it to the last morsel.

PROS: Made from simple ingredients with Yak milk as the novel source, no chemicals, preservatives, hormones, or coloring added, super-hard texture, low odor, great for aggressive chewers, and softened in the microwave.

CONS: It May contain cow's milk.

Benefits of Adding the Best Novel Protein Dog Foods

Even though the ingredients of novel dog food are very different from the usual high-protein dog food, it provides many benefits than most people expect:

Fewer Incidents of Allergies and Stomach Issues

The longer a pooch is exposed to an allergen in a protein dog food, the more chances it would trigger an allergy. 

You don't have to worry about this if you feed novel protein dog food.

The best protein dog food has rare meat that is less likely to cause any reactions.

Novel Meat is Lean and Clean 

Single-protein dog food, like kangaroo meat, is not commonly commercially processed with other meat.

This means the process method is cleaner compared to other dog food.

Unlike other protein dog foods, they are not mixed with other meats that dogs often have allergies to.

Also, novel meat is leaner since it's not farmed with chemicals or unnecessary antibiotics.

Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are bad and good types of fats.

Sometimes, high-protein dog food has high levels of calorie content and bad fat that most pet owners are not aware of. 

Novel protein dog food, especially kangaroo meat, is rich in good fat and Omega-3 fatty acids.

This fat is good for your dog's heart health.

Omega-3 fatty acids in a protein dog food lessen the risk of irregular heartbeat and facilitate the development of muscle mass.

Novel Protein Dog Foods: Before You Go

If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, switching them over to one of these best novel protein dog foods is the right answer.

There are even novel protein dog treats as snacks for your pooch!

Choose a food that your dog likes and digests well, then gradually mix in the new food with the old over a week to avoid tummy upsets.

Be sure to watch your pet for any adverse effects.

If they experience vomiting or diarrhea, discontinue using the new food and try a different novel protein dog food brand.


Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.

Want to share this?

Top 10 Best Novel Protein Dog Foods

Kelly works as a veterinary technician in Austin, TX as well as regular animal rescue volunteer. She's been an animal lover and dog owner since childhood, and has worked in different dog related fields over the last twenty years. Currently she lives with three dogs and a cat.