Protein is an important part of your dog’s diet. How much protein a dog needs daily is constantly debated. Some experts believe that a diet that’s high in protein can cause kidney issues in older dogs, while others have disputed these findings, conducting tests of their own which showed no negative health issues. Vets often recommend a high protein dog food for puppies or young, active adults.

Development and Growth in Young Dogs

Young DogsA diet high in protein for puppies is necessary for all aspects of development and growth. Additionally, protein is burned as calories and can be converted to or stored as fat. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein.  A dog doesn’t necessarily need protein, they need the twelve amino acids that come from protein. There are twenty-two amino acids altogether. A dog is able to create twelve of them, while the remaining twelve need to be acquired through diet.

Quality dog food will contain a safe and healthy protein source. Every type of protein source will contain different amino acid levels. Every type of protein is also different in the way it’s able to break down into amino acids. Because of this, not all protein sources are considered equal. Some sources are better for your dog than others. As an example, some commercial dog food brands that feature a high protein content will use shredded paper as the protein source.

Eggs have the highest quality protein, setting the standard for which other types of protein sources are judged. Eggs have a biological value of a hundred. Both milk and fish meal fall in at second place with a biological value of ninety-two. Beef has a biological value of eighty, while the biological value of soybean meal is sixty-seven.  Certain parts of an animal are high in protein, such as a turkey’s feathers or feet, however, they are actually rated as a poor source of protein.

How can I tell if my Dog needs a Diet that’s high in Protein?

High Protein Dog Food for Active DogsThe protein requirements for dogs can vary depending on the dog’s breed, age and activity level. When we say breed, we’re referring to certain types of dogs that are known for their high energy level and fast metabolism. This includes dogs such as Jack Russel Terriers, Pit Bulls, Boxers, German Shepherds and Weimaraners. All puppies will need a high protein diet until they’re one to two years of age. This type of diet is not recommended for overweight dogs or dogs that have certain medical conditions such as diabetes or intestinal bowel disease. Usually, a veterinarian will place a dog on a protein-free diet if the dog is diagnosed with kidney disease. Pregnant and nursing dogs should also eat a diet that’s high in protein, in order to support a healthy pregnancy and birth as well as to produce milk that contains all the nutrients needed for healthy growing pups.

Speak with your vet regarding your dog’s specific dietary needs. If your dog is underweight, your vet may prescribe a high protein diet to add some weight fast. If your dog is older than eight to ten years of age, overweight or not very active, your vet may recommend a senior diet or a brand of dog food that’s designed for dogs with a low activity level.

The Pros and Cons

Most veterinarians can agree that whether a high protein diet is needed usually depends on the individual dog. Some dogs will benefit from a diet that’s high in protein, while for others, this diet simply will not agree with them.

Before you start reading dog food labels, learn what’s considered high protein. Often, food that contains more than thirty percent of protein is considered high.   A moderate amount of protein should be in the mid twenty range. Food that’s below twenty percent is considered low protein. Often, food that contains lower than twenty percent of protein is available by prescription only and is used to treat certain health issues.

dog needs proteinEvery dog needs protein. Protein provides the building blocks for body mass, muscle, nerve function, the creation of cells and it’s also the key to healing wounds. Dogs that don’t get enough protein in their diet will be underweight and have a poor quality coat. But how much a dog needs often depends on their size, breed, activity level, health and age. Before you decide what level of protein your dog needs, speak with their vet and allow them to review your dog’s individual needs.

Typically the percentage of protein listed on the label of dog food doesn’t tell the entire story. More important than how much protein is in your dog food is the quality of the protein. Look at all of the ingredients listed on the dog food label in order to properly evaluate the quality. The first ingredient listed should be a named meat, such as fish, lamb, beef or chicken. Meat provides the best source of quality protein. Labels usually list the ingredients based on weight. Which means the order in which an ingredient is listed is key to determining the protein content in the food. Soy, corn, by-products and wheat often have little value for dogs.

There are many breeds of dogs that can benefit from a high protein diet. Puppies especially need more protein in order to encourage proper development and growth. Nursing or pregnant dogs also have higher protein needs, requiring food with a twenty-five or thirty percent protein content depending on the breed and size of the dog. Certain breeds that participate in herding, agility training or other high energy breeds also need more protein in their diet. Dogs who enjoy an active lifestyle, such as working dogs, will benefit from a high protein diet.

Often, dogs that suffer from liver or kidney issues are prescribed a low protein diet. Some senior dogs must remain on a diet that’s low in protein because it’s easier for them to digest. Speak with your veterinarian for recommendations regarding the best source of nutrition for your dog.