Disclaimer: These tips are designed to be a guideline and raise awareness about the ingredients in pet foods available on the market. Protein is just one of several ingredients that make up a well balanced diet. Your veterinarian is your best resource in identifying how much protein your dog should be eating. We believe the best practice in determining the quality of the food you feed your pet, and how well he/she is doing on that particular food, is determined by working with your veterinarian through annual physical examinations and routine wellness blood work. Make an appointment with your vet if you are concerned about the protein levels and quality of protein in what you are feeding your dog.
Protein is one of the most talked about components of dog food. Many dog food companies will talk about how much protein is in their food, and tell you that since they have so many grams of protein per kibble they are the best option for your dog. Unfortunately, choosing the right food for your dog isn’t really that simple! All dogs need protein, as it is a vital source of energy and 10 of the 22 amino acids they need to consume to stay healthy. Depending on your dog’s life stage, activity levels, and unique needs, the most protein isn’t necessarily the correct amount of protein to be feeding your dog.
6-7 points: Your dog may benefit from a diet that is lower in protein – consult your veterinarian. Dogs that aren’t very active do not have a high need for the energy that comes from protein, but that doesn’t mean you should eliminate protein altogether! Don’t forget that dogs need to eat protein as it is the source of essential amino acids. Dogs with kidney problems will also benefit from a diet that is lower in protein. Your vet will be able to help you identify a food that contains an adequate level of easily digestible protein.
8-10 points: Your dog will likely benefit from a diet with moderate protein levels – 18% or higher. It is not necessary for adult dogs with healthy kidneys who do not have a highly active lifestyle to be fed a diet that is either low or rich in protein. The protein they are eating should, however, be high quality and easily digestible.
11-16 points: Your dog will likely benefit from a diet that has higher than average protein levels – 25% or higher. Growing puppies, pregnant dogs, working dogs, and senior dogs often thrive on high protein diets. A higher protein content in their diet is futile, though, if the protein is not coming from a quality protein source!
Identifying a Quality Protein Source
The order of the ingredients on the bag, and what the ingredients are, are two key indicators on the quality of protein in a recipe. Look for foods that have meat as the first ingredient. Having meat meal or a meat by-product as a first ingredient is okay, but be aware they may not be as high quality as meat itself. Stay away from foods that list meat and bone meal first, as it will be difficult for your dog to digest.
Can I Feed Too Much Protein?
You can feed too much protein if your dog has kidney problems or other medical concerns.
A healthy dog with a properly functioning digestive system will use the protein they need to use from what they have consumed. Excess protein is either flushed out of their system or stored as fat. So, as long as your dog isn’t packing on the pounds, and you are feeding them according to their age, health and lifestyle, the amount in their food is probably okay.