The best dog foods for winter are calorie-dense. While dogs exercise less when it’s cold, their body burns more calories just to keep their body temperature at the same level. Therefore, dogs need to eat slightly more to keep up with the cold weather.
Different dog breeds require different levels of activity during the cold season. Some enjoy the cold while others hate it. The effect this season has on their diet can drastically affect their overall health.
Moreover, all winter foods for dogs are different. They are recommended based on the dietary requirements of your dog in the winter season. However, diet does not replace an insulated kennel, or more simply, a dog house heater (especially for puppies and toy breeds).
20 Best Dog Foods for winter
There are several brands out there in the market for your four-legged friend, which is why it might get difficult to select the right one. Here is a breakdown of the top 20 Best Dog foods for winter.
1. Nature's Recipe Easy to Digest Kibble
This product is completely natural dog food with a load of nutrients and vitamins that will help your furry friend fulfill their dietary requirements.
This product comes in a variety of flavors and does not have any added colors or preservatives. It has a great taste and is easy to digest for your dog.
Some users state that their dogs love this product because it has great flavor and others say that it does not cause their dog stomach problems which makes it one of the most popular winter dog foods on the market. However, there were a few customers who were unsatisfied and stated that this dog food made their dog feel itchy later. But most users were satisfied with this product.
- Loaded with essential nutrients
- Does not have any artificial flavors and preservatives
- Saves your dog an upset stomach
- Some dogs had itchy skin
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish's Real Beef
This particular dog food has natural prebiotics that helps your dog digest their food quickly. It is made with farm-raised beef and does not have any artificial flavors or added preservatives.
Also, this product does not have fillers, wheat, or wheat gluten ingredients and is completely safe and healthy for your dog to consume.
Satisfied customers say that their pets enjoy this food’s flavor and the taste of beef, carrots, brown rice, and peas make a wholesome meal for their dogs. Others said it was great to help their dogs maintain a healthy weight.
However, some unsatisfied customers felt that it did not help their dog lose weight but helped them maintain it.
- Helps dogs maintain their body weight
- No added preservatives
- Not suitable for large dogs
- Some pups had loose stool
3. Taste of Wild Premium High Protein
This product gives your dog the taste of roasted bison. Your dogs will love it because it is made with real meat. It also has an abundance of amino acids, proteins, and vitamins that help your dog build muscle and their immune system.
The fatty acid blend helps your dog stay warm and content during the winter season. Furthermore, this product is made without Grain, Corn, Wheat, or any artificial flavor.
Satisfied customers have stated that it helped their dogs with digestion. Other customers have also stated that it improved the fur coat and general overall health of their dog during the harsh winter season.
Some customers felt that the product had way too much protein for their dog, but their opinions varied a great deal.
- Rich in amino acids
- Promotes immunity
- Free from grain, wheat, and corn
- Not for dogs with minimal protein need
- Inconsistent kibble size
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
This product has great taste because it’s made with real meat. It has high levels of protein and contains glucosamine and chondroitin for senior dogs. This improves mobility and reduces joint pain in senior dogs.
Satisfied customers have stated that this product made their senior dog healthier and more energetic during the winter season. They have also stated that this product helps their dog move around with ease because it reduces joint pain.
However, there were a small number of customers that felt their dogs didn’t like the flavor of the product as much.
- High in protein
- Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
- Promotes healthy bones and joints
- Inconsistent kibble size
- Some bags arrived open
5. CANIDAE All Life Stages Dog Dry Food
This product is rich in protein and is made with turkey, fish, lamb, and chicken. Also, this product can be used for all kinds of breeds and sizes of dogs. It has a variety of natural flavors and probiotics to help keep your dog’s immune system strong.
It also has vitamins and minerals to keep your dog’s coat shiny and to make sure they maintain a healthy weight.
Satisfied customers have stated that this product has helped their dogs build muscle and grow stronger. However, some customers felt that their dogs did not quite like the taste of this product.
- High in protein
- Rich in probiotics
- Improves immunity
- Lost of dust
- Some dogs experience an upset stomach
6. Purina Beneful Healthy Weight
This product is made from real chicken. It also has the nutrients and taste of spinach, peas, and carrots. Antioxidants in this product help keep your dog’s immune system strong, and 23 essential vitamins help your dog stay healthy overall. The Purina facilities in which this product is manufactured are safe and clean.
Happy customers have stated that this product helps their dogs lose weight. Some customers stated that their dogs did not take a liking to the taste; however, most dogs enjoyed the meaty taste.
- Rich in antioxidants
- Boosts immune health
- Rich in essential vitamins and minerals
- Some dogs did not like the flavor
- It is expensive
7. Sojos Complete Freeze-Dried Raw
This product is a treat for your dog. It has a meaty flavor your dog will love and comes in a variety of pork, chicken, beef, and fish, etc. This product also helps your dog maintain a balanced diet with real ingredients and no added preservatives.
Satisfied customers have reported that their overweight dogs lost weight and became healthier after consuming this. Some have stated that their dogs did not like the smell and taste of the product.
- No added preservatives
- Rich in protein
- Made with real ingredients
- Some dogs had an upset stomach
8. Wellness Core Natural Winter Dog Food
This product is especially good for smaller breeds. It helps them consume the right amount of calories and has all-natural ingredients that keep your dog healthy.
This product does not have any added preservatives and is completely grain-free. Satisfied customers have stated that this product helps their dog feel healthy and energetic. A couple of customers said their dogs had bad reactions to the product and refused to eat it.
- Suitable for smaller breeds
- Enough calories
- Some bags had clumps and molds
9. Diamond Naturals Premium Real Meat
This product is made with real beef. It also has high levels of vitamin E and selenium. Also, this product has Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids that bring a shine to your animal’s coat. It does not have corn, grain, or any added preservatives.
Customers love the improvement they see in their animal’s health and fur. They state that their dogs also love the taste of this product.
- Rich in essential fatty acids
- Free from grain and corn
- No added preservatives
- Small-sized kibbles
- Not resealable bag
10. Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed Formula
This product is made from real chicken. It has great flavor and little kibble bites that help clean your dog’s teeth during the meal. It helps your dog get healthy and shiny skin and does not have any added preservatives or Gluten ingredients.
Customers have stated that this product improved their dog’s digestion. It also helped improve the quality of their fur. The probiotics and prebiotics helped strengthen joints and muscles.
- Helps keep your dog’s teeth clean
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Improves digestion
- Not resealable bag
- Small kibbles
11. Wag Dry Dog Food Beef & Lentil Recipe with Wild Boar
The Wag dry dog food contains real American beef as the first ingredient, the primary protein source. The addition of peas and lentils provides the other required vitamins and nutrients.
Each serving of this dog food offers 35% of protein which aids in the overall growth of your dog and develops lean muscles. In addition, with the long-chain DHA, omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy skin and fur in dogs.
Vets not only recommended this dog food, but they also helped formulate the recipe. As a result, the formula is free of grain and full of ingredients that promote your dog’s optimal health.
One of the main things that people complain about this dog food is the excessive price hike over a short time. Also, like with every other dog food, some users complain about their dogs developing stomach issues after eating this food.
- Dogs love its taste
- Improved gut health reduces digestive issues
- Reduced skin allergies and improved fur quality
- Suitable for dogs on a strict diet
- A complete blend of nutrition
- The crumbly texture of the kibble turns into powder if not stored properly
- Excessive hike in price
12. IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Adult Minichunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken
The farm-raised real chicken provides high-quality protein, which is essential for muscle development in dogs. Apart from that, beet pulp and carrots are the primary sources of fiber and probiotics, which increase good bacteria in dogs’ guts. It not just results in improved gut health but also improves digestion in dogs.
One of the main things people boast about this dog food is its healing properties. For example, many users claim that this dog food helped heal skin allergies in their dogs and promoted healthy fur growth.
However, few complaints about this dog food causing an upset stomach and vomiting.
- Healthy gut in dogs
- Improved immunity
- Promotes shiny coat and fur
- Better digestion
- Lean muscle development
- Some dogs don’t like the flavor
- Upset stomach in dogs
13. Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food with Grains, Chicken & Oatmeal
The Wellness natural dog food contains all the right ingredients that offer your dog complete nutrition. With glucosamine, calcium, and high-quality protein, this dog food promotes healthy bones and joints and leans muscle development in dogs.
Vets recommend this dog food as it is free of any meat by-products and artificial ingredients and full of nutrients suitable for dogs. Reviews of this dog food are full of praises for how it promotes digestive health and immunity in their dogs.
On the downside, some users complained about inconsistent food quality, possibly because of a bad batch. Also, there seems to be some issue with the bag’s seal top closure which doesn’t close to keeping the food fresh for longer.
- Lean muscle development
- Healthy fur and coat
- Strong bones, teeth, and joints
- Keeps your dog energetic
- A little pricier
- Inconsistent food quality
14. VICTOR Super Premium Dog Food – for High Energy and Active Dogs & Puppies
This gluten-free dog food formula is excellent for dogs with food allergies. Every serving of this dog food contains 30% protein. The multi-protein sources in this dog food promote healthy muscle growth in dogs.
The balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, and supplements provides all the necessary nutrients for dogs’ overall health. This dog food is made in the USA with all ingredients sourced from trusted suppliers.
The users of this dog food claim it helped heal the skin allergies in their dogs. But the company recently changed the formula, which was not accepted by the picky eaters. However, some people complain about the smell and food being too rich for inactive dogs.
- Good source of energy for active dogs
- Picky eaters like this
- Good for large breeds
- Aids in muscle development
- It can lead to excessive weight gain for sedentary dogs
- Causes upset stomach in some dogs
15. Diamond Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Wild Caught Salmon
If your dog suffers from skin allergies, then the Diamond Naturals dog food formula is the best food for them. With superfoods like chia seeds, kale, and other hypoallergenic ingredients, you can rest assured that your dogs are getting their nutrients.
It is free of corn, wheat, and other filler ingredients that can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Dog food is ideal for dogs of all life stages. The review section of this dog food is filled with positive comments. People say their dog’s health improved significantly after switching to this dog food.
However, every dog is different, and so is their health condition. Some people also complained that this dog food gave their dogs bad allergies.
- Relief from skin allergies
- Improved immunity
- Free of hypoallergenic ingredients
- Aids in healthy skin and fur
- Cause digestive issues in some dogs
- Picky eaters may not like this food
16. Taste of the Wild High Prairie with Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison Adult Dry Dog Food
Another vet recommended dog food is the taste of the wild high protein dog food. The roasted flavor of this dog food is a favorite even among picky eaters. With every serving containing 31% protein, your dog will get all the energy required for an active lifestyle.
The dogs’ specific probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants are necessary for their development. It is made in the USA with all the ingredients from local and trusted sources. But since every dog is different, watch your dog for allergies and redness under the nose, around jowls, or under the toes. Also, your dog might have an upset tummy after some time.
- Picky eaters love the flavor
- High-quality protein aids in muscle development
- Improved gut health
- Improved immunity in dogs
- The price is fair for the quality
- Not suitable for dogs with allergies
- It might result in an upset stomach for some dogs
17. NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
The Nutro natural choice dog food is a balanced blend of high-quality ingredients and nutrients that promotes good health in older dogs. With real meat as the first ingredient, your dog will get their daily requirement of healthy protein.
The natural fiber helps your dog have better digestion. The calcium in it promotes healthy joints and bones. It is ideal for senior dogs of small breeds. In addition, the antioxidants in this dog food improve the immunity of aging dogs.
The users of this dog food rave about how their dogs love its taste. But others complain of skin allergies in their dogs.
- Dogs love the taste of this food
- Improves digestion
- Fulfills nutritional requirements of old dogs
- Free of filler ingredients
- Not suitable for dogs with food allergies
- Causes upset stomach and vomiting in dogs
18. ORIJEN Dog Original Recipe
The Orijen dog food formula replicates wild dogs’ food by keeping the first five ingredients fresh or raw. 85% of dog food contains animal ingredients which is what the dog requires. The high-quality protein content promotes the overall development of your dog.
With all the vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients, this dog food is a complete diet for dogs of all breeds and all life stages.
The review section of this dog food is full of positive praises. Users say that this dog food made their dogs healthy and more active. However, some users think the product is overpriced and causes digestive issues for their dogs.
- High-quality ingredients
- Protein percentage is high
- Suitable for dogs of all life stages
- Healthy growth of dogs
- Picky eaters are not fond of this
- Not for dogs with a sensitive stomach
19. Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Natural Dry Dog Food
This Rachael ray dog food is available in four different bag sizes. This dog food formula contains all-natural, simple ingredients that blend for a tasty treat. A complete balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber aids in dogs’ overall growth.
This dog food’s affordable price and taste are irresistible for dog owners and dogs alike. However, some dogs develop diarrhea and vomiting after eating this dog food. Also, the food contains a bit of extra oil that you may see dripping from the older bags, which might not be good for your dog. Some dogs develop bald patches after consuming this food regularly, so keep a close watch on your dog in the initial days of introducing this food.
- It is a high-energy source for dogs
- Affordable price
- Suitable for dogs for their overall development
- Free of fillers
- Healthy bone and joints
- Kibble size big for small breed dogs
- Digestive issues in some dogs
20. Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Premium Adult Dry Dog Food
Even though last on your list, Canidae dry dog food is still a high-quality food for dogs. It is available to buy in five different bag sizes. It contains taurine, glucosamine, probiotics, and other necessary ingredients for dogs’ health. The goodness of antioxidants and probiotics improves your dog’s immunity and helps promote gut health.
You can be confident that your dog will like its food with six different recipes. With ten or fewer ingredients, this dog food is even safe for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies.
But as a matter of concern, the color of the salmon in this dog food keeps changing from batch to batch. This might be due to a change in quality or formula. So, make sure your dog doesn’t show any sign of gastric distress or diarrhea.
- It promotes heart health in dogs
- Increase healthy bacteria in the gut
- Strong bones and joints
- Shiny and soft skin and fur
- Improves immunity
- Results in bad breath in dogs
- Taste not good for picky eaters
How do cold temperatures and less daylight affect my dog's weight?
Cold temperature and less daylight can have a drastic impact on your dog’s overall health. They can make your dog feel lethargic, and your little friend might not be too keen on going on long walks.
Due to less daylight, there is a reduced chance of regular exercise for your dog. Due to this, their metabolism slows down so that their bodies can conserve more calories and not lose weight. Or, the dogs can get so cold that they burn a lot more calories to stay warm.
Your dog burns fewer calories
If your dog is not going out as much during the winter season, chances are they won’t need to consume the same amount of food they did during summers. This is because they will not need any extra calories because of the lack of exercise.
The winter season has the potential to affect your dog’s calorie intake. However, this does not apply to all dog breeds. Some breeds are naturally energetic and love to run around. Consequently, they burn more energy and have different dietary requirements.
Some breeds enjoy lazing about and cuddling. Cold temperature and less daylight do not bother them as much because they like to curl up and sleep in front of the fireplace anyway.
Some breeds have a specific physical appearance. Breeds who have features like a thick coat of fur or a high fat density, to protect them from the cold, have a higher chance of burning fewer calories. This is because, during winters, dogs shiver to heat themselves. This act helps burn a lot of calories.
Your dog burns more calories
Dogs who have less fur and fat density tend to shiver more and burn more calories. Due to this, they also need to consume more food. This is why your furry friend gets hungrier during the winter season.
Dogs that are given fewer portions of food during the winter season, actually lose weight due to the calories they burn trying to protect themselves from the cold.
Therefore, such dogs will need to be given more food or the same amount but of a different, more calorie-dense, dog food.
How to choose the right dog foods for winter?
Choosing the right type and brand of dog foods for winter can be the biggest challenge ever. There are a lot of factors you need to think about. These factors include
Your Dog's Size
The amount of food you give to your dog should depend on your dog’s size. If your dog is large, they will burn more calories than a smaller-sized dog.
When selecting winter food for dogs, you need to keep in mind your dog’s size. Dog owners often think about the question of why are dogs hungrier in winter? This is because your dog’s weight determines the hunger it will experience during this season.
You need to choose the right wintertime dog food that has a higher fat content because dogs of all sizes tend to burn more calories due to shivering.
However, if your dog is already overweight, you need to choose a brand of dog food for winter that has a lower fat content and helps them lose weight.
Amount of Fur and Fat
The amount of fur and fat your dog has can drastically affect the kind of winter dog food you choose for it. Interestingly, dogs who have a thick layer of fur and a higher fat density can protect themselves from the cold easily.
This means they do not burn as many calories because they do not shiver as much. For these types of dogs, you need to get dog foods for winter that have lower fat content. You can also reduce the size of your dog’s daily servings so that they do not gain extra weight.
However, dogs with less fur and a low fat density need more protection from the cold. If you are an owner of such a dog, you might ask yourself the question of why are dogs having an increase in appetite in winter?
This is because your dog is burning more calories and needs to consume more food to maintain a healthy weight.
Your Dog's Age
Your dog’s age is another important factor when it comes to selecting the right dog’s food for winter. This is because older dogs tend to have slower metabolisms compared to younger dogs. This means younger dogs are more energetic and burn calories faster.
If you have an older dog, you need to choose a brand of dog food that has lots of nutrients and vitamins and a relatively lower fat content. This is because older dogs are not as energetic, and it is very difficult for them to lose weight.
However, if you have a young dog, you need to buy dog foods for winter that have a higher fat content. Younger dogs need more calories since they burn more calories during the winter season.
If you have a healthy dog, you don’t have to worry too much before buying dog foods for winter. Healthy dogs are strong and don’t need to be looked after too much.
However, if your dog has health issues such as arthritis or diabetes, then you need to be careful before buying winter food for dogs.
You will have to read the ingredients carefully to make sure that there aren’t any ingredients in the food that could worsen your dog’s health.
Also, sicker dogs tend to be less energetic, which means that they will not be able to burn calories faster. This is why you need to give them fewer portions of food with lower fat content.
The ingredients of your dog food are perhaps one of the most important things you should look for when you are selecting winter food for your dog.
Before selecting dog food, you must make sure it has the right amount of calories and nutrients your dog will need to stay happy and healthy during the harsh winters.
If your dog has a specific illness or vitamin deficiency, you need to make sure that the dog food you are choosing has that specific vitamin.
Also, you need to be on the lookout for anything that can trigger your dog’s allergies. If your dog is allergic to specific foods or ingredients, you need to make sure they are not present in the dog food.
Winter Dog Food – FAQ
Dog foods formulated for cold weather don’t exist as such. However, plenty of existing formulas are great and would do the job perfectly. Below is us trying to answer the most common questions about feeding a dog during wintertime.
You can heat your dog’s food during the winter season. This is because warm meals are more satisfying and will bring warmth to your dog. You could also simply mix the dry kibble with lukewarm water to reach the same result.
Your dog will not feel very cold during the winter season if you give it warm meals. Heating your dog’s meals is also a gesture of love and affection towards your dog and will help your furry friend feel warm and satisfied during the cold.
If the weather outside is harsh and cold, it is a better idea to feed your dog inside the house. Your dog also may feel more comfortable eating in the warmth.
If the weather outside is not as cold, you can feed your dog outside. Outdoor exposure is always good for your animal and helps them stay healthy and happy. If your pet is too cold outside, you may want to invest in a heated outdoor dog house.
Dogs tend to eat more during the cold because they are burning more calories to maintain regular body temperature and avoid hypothermia. Even if they don’t go outside to exercise and play regularly during the cold season, your dog can burn a lot of calories protecting themselves from the cold.
They shiver to keep themselves warm and burn more calories which makes them hungrier than usual during the winter season.
The amount of food you feed your dog during the winter season depends largely on the breed, size, age, and overall health of your dog. We recommend giving a quarter to a half more depending on circumstances. Different breeds have different sizes and require different amounts of food.
Older dogs need to be given foods in smaller amounts because they have digestion issues and have problems losing weight. Younger, more energetic dogs require larger portions of food during the winter season.
Since dogs burn more calories during the winter season by shivering and protecting themselves from the cold, they also get hungrier faster.
You could increase your dog’s serving size during the winter, but that is not always a requirement. If your dog is overweight, you should continue with the regular serving size, and your dog will lose some weight and become healthier.
Food provides comfort and warmth to everyone. If you warm your food for your dog, it will help them feel warm inside. Furthermore, food helps your dog create a layer of fat that insulates and keeps the cold out.
This layer of fat protects your dog from the harsh cold and keeps them warm, comfortable, and happy.
Winter can be the best season of the year for your dog if they have the best dog food to fight the cold. Choose the best food for your dog to prevent gaining and losing too much weight.