By Alex Paul
Dogs are man’s best friend, but they don’t like the carbohydrate-filled, unnatural diets fed to them. High-quality dog foods – for the most part – are super expensive, yet many of them don’t provide your pup with ample protein for optimal performance. And protein is the key to a healthy diet for dogs.
How Much Protein is Enough for Your Dog?
Low-quality foods are low on meat and organ tissue that dogs need and high in grains. Corn-based diets are what many of these low-end foods offer your pup, and this isn’t a natural way of eating for a dog. Dogs are meat eaters at heart and in the wild they would eat anything available to them, especially small animals, birds and even eggs.
The problem is that humans aren’t sure of their own protein recommendations, so it’s unrealistic to think they know how much protein Fido should be eating.
Dogs need meat.
But dogs also need other foods in their diet, too, such as:
- Some grains
A typical dog foraging out in the wild would have a very high portion of their diet consist of meat. As carno-omnivores, dogs can consume a diet of 30% or higher protein.
There are a lot of benefits to this high-protein diet, too, such as:
- Better weight management
- Strong muscles and bones
- Healthier coat
- Less waste (smaller bowel movements)
A dog needs 22 amino acids for proper metabolism function, and a dog’s body will make 12 of these on its own through its liver. Meats are easy digestible and have a higher array of amino acids than grains.
Dogs will eat a variety of protein in the wild, including:
- Chicken feet
A proper diet consisting of the 10 amino acids that the dog’s body doesn’t make naturally is difficult to maintain unless you find 5 star foods that are high in protein.
The general guidelines for protein consumption are:
- 28% for puppies
- 18% for adults
- 25% for performance dogs
- 35% for racing dogs
Pregnant or nursing dogs will need a 28% or higher protein diet. These high protein diets are what a dog would be consuming in the wild. There’s also far fewer fillers in these diets, which is better for your pup, too.
A few of the brands that offer high protein ratios are:
- Castor and Pollux
Since every breed is different, you will want to consult with a vet to adapt the dog’s diet, depending on how well they adjust to it.
Just remember to transition your dog gradually into any new diet routine. If you’re changing foods, you’ll want to mix in 25% of the new food with 75% of the old food for 2 days, followed by a 50% mixture of both foods for two days, and then a 75% to 25% ratio of new food to old food. The reason for the transition is to ensure that the dog’s stomach can handle the new food without getting sick. Oftentimes, a dog will throw up or suffer from indigestion because they haven’t been properly transitioned into a new diet.
3 Concerns With High Protein Diets
High protein diets are great, and you may even consider a raw food diet at some point, but you also need to be careful with feeding your dog too much protein. There’s a lot that goes into the equation:
- Breed: Smaller breeds require fewer calories and may need lower protein counts.
- Activity Level: The dog’s activity level plays a role in how much protein they need to be fed. A dog that’s primarily inactive will need a lower protein amount than an active dog because their liver may not be able to process the protein adequately.
- Age: Puppies and lactating dogs will need to have higher protein amounts than an adult dog that’s not extremely active.
Again, if you notice your dog has any issues on a high protein diet, consult with your vet to make sure that you’re not overfeeding protein.
A few of the concerns with a high-protein diet in dogs is:
1. Protein Excretion
If a dog is given too much protein, the body will excrete the protein through the kidneys and out through the dog’s urine. The kidneys will be overworked in this case. Plus, protein is the most expensive ingredient in dog foods and if the dog is urinating the protein out of its body, you’re wasting money.
If too much protein is in a dog’s diet and it’s not excreted it will be stored as fat, leading to weight issues. The goal is to feed your dog the recommended amount of food for their appropriate weight and activity level. A dog that’s inactive will need fewer calories than a racing dog that will quickly burn through its daily calories.
2. Liver Issues
You should have your dog’s liver levels tested a few months after switching to a high protein diet. The dog’s liver may have issues with being overworked, which will cause unnatural test results. Dogs that are inactive will also have a much harder time getting rid of the excess protein in their bodies. If the issue is allowed to persist, the liver and kidneys will be put under undue stress. Disease can be amplified when the body is under an increased workload, too.
Some pet owners find that their dogs are hyperactive after eating higher protein amounts. This isn’t a bad thing, and the dog is likely filled with more energy than being in a food coma caused by their normal high-fiber diets. With that said, if your dog is hyperactive, you can lower its protein consumption to see if it helps correct the issue.
If your pup has kidney problems, it’s best to avoid going with a high protein diet. There are circumstances where a high protein diet has been linked to a potential increase in kidney disease for senior dogs. Your vet will be able to tell you if your dog’s kidney issue will be exacerbated due to higher protein intake.
For most dogs, higher protein amounts work very well and eliminate many of the health issues connected with grain-heavy diets, mainly obesity and a lack of energy.
Alex Paul is a guest post writer from Smartguestposts. He has years of experience and has been highly praised for the overall quality of his content. Having written on a wide range of topics, Alex takes great pride in his craft. He possess a wealth of knowledge on a variety of subjects, which has enabled him to become such a skilled writer
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