Frequent Is a high protein dog food good for dogs? Simple and Effective Tips

Find food that fits your pet’s needs

High protein dog food sounds like a good thing. After all, dogs are primarily meat eaters … Arent they? This claim is often made, but if you know dogs, you know that if left to their own devices theyll go for whatever edible thing is easiest to get to, be it meat, vegetables, potato chips, or the contents of your cats litter box. Observing your dogs unsupervised eating habits isnt exactly the best way to tell whats good for him. Read on to learn how much and what kind of protein for dogs is best.

Black dog eating food from a bowl on the floorIts often thought that dogs are exclusive meat eaters that require high protein dog food. This belief stems partly from the fact that dogs are related to wolves, which are indeed carnivores, and from the fact that dogs belong to the scientific order Carnivora, which includes wolves and other meat-eating species. Despite its name, this order also includes herbivores and omnivores, such as bears, raccoons, and giant pandas, says Tufts Universitys Cummings Veterinary Medical Center. The truth is that dogs have evolved a number of differences from wolves over the millennia. One of those differences, according to a study published in Nature, is that the genome of dogs has evolved to not only enable them to digest plant-based starches, but to thrive on foods that include a wide variety of ingredients including fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, meats, poultry, fish and more, making them true omnivores.

How Much Protein Does Your Dog Need?

Dogs arent carnivores, but they do need essential amino acids found in protein in order to thrive. However, some veterinarians still caution against feeding high amounts of protein to dogs with kidney disease, as well as to senior dogs. When in doubt, its always best to check with your vet to ensure your dog is getting proper nutrition. So, rather than looking for quantity of protein in your dogs food, you should be looking at the quality.

Dogs can only use a certain amount of the protein that is digested and absorbed at once to repair and maintain muscles and other tissues. Any excess must be disposed of, which means it is broken down and burned for energy or stored as fat. Either way, the kidneys remove the byproducts of protein breakdown and are excreted in the urine. If youve ever noticed those yellow spots on your lawn from your dog doing his business, there is a good chance that that is caused by excessive protein in the system. Also, if your dog is putting on weight, it might be worth examining the protein content of his food.

Another danger is in feeding too little protein to your pup. Dogs need protein to provide energy and build strong muscles, bones, and joints. As a general guideline, the Association of American Feed Control Officials requires adult dog food to contain a minimum of 18 percent crude protein on a dry matter basis (meaning whats left after all of the moisture is extracted from dog food). Food for growing puppies and nursing mothers has a required minimum of 22.5 percent dry matter protein. Again, you should ask your vet how much protein is recommended for your dogs life stage and activity level.

Team of dog sled huskies pulls man and sled across wintery landscape.Dog foods marketed as high in animal protein tend to take advantage of the common perception of dogs as domesticated wolves. Dogs are not wolves. They not only have the means to digest plant matter, but their digestive systems are equipped to access the amino acids in plant-based proteins. According to Petfood Industry, its not the amount of protein in a dogs diet that is important, but the digestibility and bioavailability of amino acids. Often, high-protein, meat-based dog foods include protein sources that are neither highly digestible nor bioavailable to your dog. Unused protein ferments and goes into fecal matter, making your dogs solid waste stinkier, says Petfood Industry.

When it comes to digestibility and bioavailability, its actually a mix of animal-based and plant-based proteins that provide dogs with the highest amount of essential amino acids, says Petfood Industry. Beef, lamb, and poultry dont provide the optimal ratio of bioavailable amino acids by themselves. Thats why higher-quality commercial dog foods typically include additional protein sources, such as fish and fish meal, eggs, animal byproducts, and plant-based proteins, such as wheat or corn gluten. Such a wide variety of protein sources ensures that their bodies will actually use the essential amino acids and receive better overall nutrition.

Is high-protein good for the planet? Depends on the Protein

As the race for higher and higher protein levels in “ancestral,” “primal,” and “evolutionary” dog foods continues, there’s a limit to what both our planet and our dog’s health can handle. Dog and cat foods have more meat than the average US adult diet, meaning dogs and cats now consume about 25% of the total calories derived from animals. That also means more factory farms, more water and air pollution, and more climate change.

Dog foods containing higher than 35-40% protein may also have health consequences, especially for older dogs with kidney or heart conditions. Of source, healthy, active dogs can easily handle, and likely benefit from, diets containing 28 to 32% protein. This amount of protein, when combined with higher fiber, may also help prevent obesity.

Wild Earth’s meat-free protein source is highly sustainable and can be grown in just a few days. It uses nearly 90% less resources than meat.

Should You Feed Your Dog High Protein?

The Internet can offer a wealth of tips and facts on dog food. Unfortunately, it provides even more dog food myths and misinformation. Here’s a sampling of urban legends populating the Web and the actual truths behind them.