There was a time when pet owners didn’t have much choice in protein sources for their pets. Today, however, we have the opposite problem – too many choices.
But having a multitude of options to choose from is preferable to no options at all, especially if your dog suffers from food allergies or sensitivities.
One of the newest protein choices for dog food is bison. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional benefits of this red meat and to receive recommendations for three top-rated brands of bison dog food.
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Top Brands of Bison Dog Food
As bison becomes increasingly more popular as a novel source of protein, more and more dog food brands are starting to use in their products. When shopping for bison dog food, you still need to make sure that the product meets certain basic requirements.
Bison should be among the main ingredients on the list, and the recipe should contain digestible carbohydrates and healthy animal-based fats – it also doesn’t hurt to include fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients and chelated minerals for nutritional balance.
Here are some quick reviews for our top choices for bison dog food.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison
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Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula
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Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
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Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Recipe
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1. Blue Buffalo BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Bison
First 5 ingredients: Deboned Bison, Beef Meal, Fish Meal, Peas, Pea Protein
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
The Blue Buffalo BLUE Wilderness line of products is one that I’ve used time and again for feeding some of my fosters, and it has not let me down. The brand features protein-rich formulas designed to mimic the natural evolutionary diet of your dog. These are meat-rich and grain-free, loaded with the protein and natural flavor that dogs love.
This particular Blue Buffalo BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe is a high-protein dog food that contains 30% crude protein and 15% crude fat, so you can rest assured that it will not just meet but exceed your dog’s minimum nutritional requirements for a whole day of play (and some work).
Though bison is the primary source of protein in this formula, it is supplemented with beef meal and fish meal as well as menhaden fish meal. For digestible carbohydrates, this formula features tapioca starch, peas, and potatoes.
Made with a nutritious blend of chicken fat and flaxseed, this recipe provides a balance of omega fatty acids to support immune system health and a healthy digestive tract. Though this recipe is a little high in fiber at 6.5%, the sources of fiber are considered highly digestible and the carbohydrate content of this recipe helps to support your dog’s energy needs.
There’s ample protein in the formula to maintain lean muscle mass as well as a precise blend of calcium and phosphorus to support your dog’s strong bones and teeth. It is free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as by-products and artificial flavors.
This bison dry dog food recipe, like all Blue Buffalo products, is also supplemented with Blue’s LifeSource Bits which feature a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your dog’s whole body health and wellness.
Small to large breed dogs will find their fuel requirements more than adequately supplied by this bison food. The high protein content should be able to sustain the needs of active pups throughout the day.
As I have mentioned before, I’ve used various Blue Buffalo recipes before for my foster pups, and this is one of them. It was well tolerated by pups with no allergies. I have not noticed any digestive issues nor any other problems when feeding them this.
However, if your dog has a sensitivity to poultry, be aware that there’s dried egg product hidden here. This often surprises pet owners who only look at the first few ingredients in the label.
While I am mostly happy with the results I have seen in my pups, I also have to point out that this food uses canola oil. Yes, canola oil provides lots of benefits, but I am also against overprocessed anything and canola oil is as highly processed as they come.
Best for: Small to large breed dogs with high fiber needs
- Has the LifeSource Bits
- High in protein
- Uses canola oil
2. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula
First 5 ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Taste of the Wild is known for producing premium, grain-free recipes that are designed to mimic your dog’s natural ancestral diet. It’s another of my go-to brands when feeding my foster pups because I like . how the company blends high-quality roasted meats with fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support.
The company also includes probiotics in all of its formulas to ensure healthy digestion and a strong immune system. This grain-free dog food is an example of one of the brand’s most popular recipes – it comes in both an adult dog and a puppy formula.
The bison dry dog food recipe features water buffalo as the main protein source although it has roasted bison aplenty – it also includes several supplementary proteins including lamb meal, chicken meal, eggs, roasted venison, beef, and ocean fish meal.
Altogether, this formula contains a whopping 32% crude protein and 18% crude fat with just 4% fiber. That protein should be enough to power your highly active pup for a whole day’s play or work. And the fiber is at the right amount to support healthy digestion.
In addition to being rich in protein, this dry dog food is made with plenty of digestible carbohydrates for healthy energy. This recipe includes grain-free and gluten-free carbs like sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes, as well as a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Apart from providing supplementary fiber and carb energy, these fruits and vegetables also act as natural sources for key nutrients. Natural sources are always more biologically valuable for your dog than synthetic supplements.
Also, this recipe is rich in healthy fats, and it is supplemented with probiotics for maintaining gastrointestinal health and chelated minerals for maximum nutrient uptake. You’ll also be glad to know that it is free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial additives.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve always liked the Taste of the Wild brand, although its recipes can sometimes be a hit or miss. It’s definitely a case of hit with this one as i can’t find anything in it that I don’t like.
The high protein dog food can supply all the fuel requirements of an adult dog’s active lifestyle. It’s also crafted for any kind of canine, from a large breed dog to a little pooch. I’ve also never had a problem with feeding my pups Taste of the Wild kibble, although, of course, each pup is an idividual and this may not be the same with you.
It does have way too animal sources for its protein content. While this is perfectly fine for otherwise healthy pups, it can also be difficult to track which protein your pup has an allergy to in case a sensitivity ever arises.
The only drawback I can see in this grain-free dog food recipe is the added salt. Salt naturally occurs in meats, and this food has plenty of those already. I can only think that the brand added it to make it more palatable to pups and to help preserve the food.
Best for: Adult dogs with high energy needs
- High in protein
- Contains live microorganisms
- With fresh fruits and veggies for naturally supplied vitamins and minerals
- Has added salt
3. Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe with Sweet Potatoes
First 5 ingredients: Bison, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
The Solid Gold brand of pet food is led by a dedicated group of animal lovers, whose mission is to offer pets the premium, holistic, and natural products that will nourish their bodies from the inside out, ensuring a long, happy, and healthy life.
Since its founding in 1974, the Solid Gold company has risen through the ranks among natural dog food brands, and its Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe with Sweet Potatoes is just one example of the company’s many recipes.
It’s not as well-known as some of its competitors, but I do like this brand for its consistent offerings of quality pet food.
This particular dry dog food recipe is formulated for large adult dogs. This kibble starts off strong with bison and ocean fish meal as the top two ingredients. These are followed by gluten-free and healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, peas, potatoes, and oatmeal. Chickpeas and rice bran also add supplementary fiber for gut health.
Although this dry dog food is not a grain-free recipe, don’t worry. Grain-free doesn’t always translate to better. In fact, I find many grain-inclusive dog food products to provide excellent results in terms of a pup’s overall health.
In terms of healthy fats, this product relies on flaxseed, chicken fat, and salmon oil for a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support immune system health as well as skin and coat health..
This formula is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for essential nutrients as well as chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption.
There are also dried fermentation products which act as probiotics to support your dog’s healthy digestion.
Overall, this dry dog food recipe is well balanced for everyday optimal health. It’s full of the nutrition and natural flavor your dog deserves. It also has a perfect balance of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and healthy coat.
However, a word of warning if your dog has a sensitive stomach and a poultry allergy: It also contains dried eggs, although this is listed further down and you might miss it if not careful.
The protein is a bit low in this bison dog food, though. Although it is higher than the minimum level for adult dogs, 22% is on the low side of average. I’d prefer something with a little more fuel for biggie pups.
Also, supplementary chondroitin and glucosamine wouldn’t be amiss either. Large breeds are infamously known for being prone to joint pain so joint health supplements would have been nice additions.
Best for: Adult large breed canines
- Made specifically for large pups
- Contains probiotic support
- Packed with superfoods
- Contains healthy grains
- Low protein content
4. Natural Balance LID Reserve Sweet Potato & Bison
First 5 ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Bison, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Potato Protein
Rating: 4/5 stars
Unlike most dog food products, this Bison dog food by Natural Balance does not start with animal protein. Instead it begins with sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are gentle on the digestive tract of canines because they’re made of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is easy to digest and therefore gentle on the tummy, while the insoluble fiber is vital in a healthy digestive system where bowel movements are regular.
What’s more, sweet potatoes also have anti-inflammatory properties and are filled with antioxidants that balance out the free radicals in your dog’s body.
Bison is only the second ingredient, but it does manage to help lift the protein level up to 20%, which meets the AAFCO standards for dry dog food. It is still on the low side, though, because the norm in dog food is usually around 25%.
Because bison is only the second ingredient, it needs additional help to get the protein up. (Remember, whichever is listed first makes up most of the volume in the food. So sweet potatoes occupy more volume in the kibble. Bison comes in second only.) The inclusion of pea protein helps with this.
Usually, plant proteins don’t have all of the essential amino acids (those the body can’t produce and must get elsewhere). However, pea protein is different. It contains all nine.
Now dogs need fat because it’s where they get the fatty acids that are responsible for skin and coat health, heart health, and some of the energy they require for movement. In this formulation, it comes from canola oil and menhaden fish oil.
Menhaden fish oils are loaded with EPA and DHA, while canola oil is full of omega 3s and phytosterols that reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the body.
Normally, I would not recommend any dog food that doesn’t start with a meat ingredient. However, this bison dry dog food works well on sensitive tummies that are prone to irritation. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And this recipe is not ‘broke.’
It’s an excellent dry dog food for pups who struggle with digestive problems. The ingredients are carefully selected to be gentle and prevent inflammation. And based on my research, it really gives these dogs relief from constant pain.
However, if I can change one thing, this would be the use of canola oil. There are so many better fat ingredients that can replace this one. Yes, canola oil provides many benefits for dogs, but it is also very much highly processed unless the brand is using the organic kind. But Natural Balance is not.
- Adult pups with sensitivities
- Poultry-free and grain-free recipe
- Good for maintaining a healthy digestion
- Gentle on the tummy
- Low on protein
- Has canola oil
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Bison?
Bison meat sounds like an exotic protein, but it is actually fairly easy to come by in the United States. In fact, some people refer to bison as “the original red meat,” even though beef is more readily available. Although compared to beef and other commercially raised meats, relatively few dog foods contain bison.
Bison is a much leaner source of protein and it is typically ranch-raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. It is still possible, though, for dogs to develop an allergy to bison, but this is true for all proteins.
However, bison is a novel source of protein for most dogs, which makes it a great ingredient to use in Limited Ingredient Diets and other so-called “hypoallergenic” pet foods.
Based on a serving size of 3 ½ ounces (about 100 grams), one serving of bison contains roughly 142 calories – that’s half the calorie content of a same-sized serving of beef. Bison is much leaner than beef and pork and it contains about 50 fewer calories than salmon.
It has a similar calorie content to venison, another lean source of exotic or novel protein. Per 3 ½ ounce serving, bison contains 28 grams of protein and 2.4 grams of fat, compared to about 26 grams of protein and 19 grams of fat for beef.
Bison also contains a significant amount of iron, sodium, potassium, and vitamin B-12 with similar cholesterol content to beef and pork. It is a little higher in cholesterol than salmon but lower than venison.
What Can Help Dogs With Food Allergies?
Food is usually the main culprit in allergies in dogs. If you can find one that helps him thrive, that’s half of the work done. The rest is being able to maintain his health in peak condition and continuously watching out for signs of an allergy comeback.
So how do you choose the right dog food for your pet? Below is a quick guide.
1. Read the label religiously. Make sure to read everything, and not just the top five ingredients, although the top five will usually give you a sense of whether this is a quality food or not.
You already know that your dog’s food should not contain any of his known allergens, but sometimes it can be found somewhere in the middle or at the bottom of the ingredients list. You might miss it if you don’t look closely at the label. This often happens with dried egg products. You might think something is poultry-free, but in reality isn’t.
2. Fewer key ingredients. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, dog food products with limited ingredients can help. Especially if you’re just starting to winnow which ingredient or ingredients are causing a reaction in your dog.
3. Gut health is important. Many animal nutritionists believe that nourishing the digestive system will lead to a stronger immune system and less chances of inflammation. A healthy gut can enhance your dog’s body to defend against allergens.
4. Don’t forget the fatty acids. Omega fatty acids support healthy skin and coat in dogs. These also help reduce inflammation and promote heart health. It’s a win-win. They’re commonly found in fish oil, flaxseed, and other fat sources.5. Choose your protein carefully. Bison dog foods utilize the novel protein, which is excellent if your pup is sensitive. However, several of these dog food products also contain other meat proteins. Only select multiple animal protein dog food recipes if you’re sure your dog is not allergic to the other protein sources.
Does Grain-Free Dog Food Work?
Food allergies in dogs happen when their immune system does not work as it’s supposed to. Normally, the body’s system will fight off germs and diseases, but sometimes, the immune system will mistake food as something harmful. That’s when it goes on attack mode, and that’s when the reactions start.
The most common allergens in the canine species are chicken, egg, dairy products, and beef, although your pup can become sensitive to a lot of other types of food. For example, the less common allergens are rice, barley, corn, and wheat.
Some pet owners mistakenly believe that feeding grain-free dog food is somehow better. It’s not. Exclusively feeding grain-free food is only advised when your pup is actually allergic to grains. Otherwise, there really is no need to.
Your pup can become allergic to potato (a common alternative to grains), or peas, or lentils. It varies between each individual pup. And since both grain-free and grain-inclusive foods have their pros and cons, it’s just a matter of weighing which is best for your pup.
Relatively Few Dog Foods Contain These Proteins
Although bison meat is our focus on this article, if you are a pet owner like me who is concerned about a sensitive pet, here are alternatives to popular animal proteins:
2. Buffalo – Although frequently mistaken as bison, buffalo meat is quite different. The American bison is huge with a prominent hump, while the buffalo (found in Africa and Asia) is smaller and has thicker horns. (Do ask first, as some companies label their pet foods as buffalo when it really is bison.)
3. Kangaroo – There are just a few pet food brands selling kangaroo meat, and two of them are from Australia and New Zealand. Zignature, Walk About, and Addiction are some of the brands selling kangaroo meat for dogs..
4. Rabbit – Evangers, Instinct, Earthborn Holistic, and Stella & Chewy’s are some of the brands offering dog foods made with rabbit meat.
5. Venison – Venison is now very common in dog food, but for some dogs, this is still a novel protein. Solid Gold, Purina One, and Natural Balance are some of the pet food brands to try when looking for venison.
6. Quail – Quail is a game bird that is rising in popularity as the main protein source of pet food products. You can check Bixbi, Taste of the Wild, Stella & Chewy, or Orijen for quail recipes.
7. Ostrich – Ostrich meat is another rare protein source in dog food. Try Nandi, Mosaic, or Nature Gnaws brands when looking for ostrich dog food.
Bison Dry Dog Food For Your Pet
Many bison dry dog food formulations are ideal for pets with sensitivities. For dogs who do not tolerate some animal proteins, bison is an excellent alternative.
But whether your dog is sensitive or not, we still recommend bison as it’s a healthy and delicious alternative to other dog food diets made up of various animal proteins. Bison meat is lean, contains fewer calories than many other animal proteins, and I have it on good authority (based on doggy votes) that it’s quite yummy for our canine friends.