When making the choice of which formula to feed your dog, you may encounter some formulas that are significantly higher in protein than most other commercial dog food formulas. Protein contents of 50%, 60% and even 70% are included in some formulas which are marketed as being the “right” choice for your dog’s nutrition. However, what is the truth about high protein dog food? How much protein does your dog really need? Are all proteins created equal, or are certain proteins better for your dog? Learn more about high protein dog food here!
A Short History of Protein
It’s been proven that dogs in the wild ate a diet that was primarily based around meat. Most wild dogs were able to fulfill their carbohydrate requirements by ingesting meat from animals that consumed grasses, herbs, vegetables, etc. A wild dog was also able to fulfill their fat requirements by eating the meat of other wild mammals. However, for domesticated dogs, the protein in their food usually comes from animals that are fed a grain-heavy diet, and doesn’t meet all of a dog’s nutritional needs. The first discussion about how protein affects a dog’s health took place among pet food companies around the time of World War II, when pet food companies were becoming more common. Throughout the ages, there have been many debates as to how much protein was really needed in a dog’s food formula. Today, there are a variety of high protein dog food formulas that are marketed as being the best choice for proper canine nutrition.
Not All Protein is Created Equal
Did you know that vegetable proteins are sometimes used to artificially boost the protein content of some dog food formulas? TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is usually made from soy, and is even used in some fast-food restaurants that produce human food. Since some dogs may have trouble digesting vegetable-based proteins, it’s best to stick to high protein dog food formulas that obtain most of their protein content from meat-based ingredients. Your animal-based protein should also be from high-quality sources, and not from by-products or animal digest. Look for ingredients such as whole meats, high quality meat meals, and meat meals that are low in ash content. The proteins that you choose should also not include any chemical preservatives. For example, some fish is preserved with ethoxyquin, a controversial ingredient that is associated with certain types of health conditions in dogs. Always check to make sure that the protein sources in your dog’s food were not preserved by the use of chemicals.
High Protein Raw Diets
Many people that choose to feed their dog a diet that is high in protein are also advocates of raw diets. The theory behind raw feeding is that your dog should be fed a diet that most closely mimics the diet of dogs in the wild. Since dogs in the wild don’t usually eat food that has been processed or cooked, this should also be reflected in the diet of domesticated dogs. Most high protein raw diets incorporate a high percentage of raw meat, usually beef or chicken. You can also use other meats in your dog’s high protein raw diet, as long as you follow some basic safety precautions. Since raw, high protein diets usually include a lot of meat, this means that you may be handling raw meat on a regular basis. It’s best if you research certain methods to make raw feeding safer, and to help to lower the chance of your meat becoming contaminated with bacteria.
How Much Protein Does My Dog Need?
An ongoing debate among many dog nutritional experts is exactly how much protein should be incorporated into a dog’s diet. Advocates of high protein dog food formulas say that as much as 70% of a dog’s diet should be from animal protein sources. Some dog nutritional experts disagree, and say that a more moderate level of protein should be recommended. However, all of these experts do agree on one thing – the amount of protein that your dog consumes should never be less than 25%, unless your dog has a specific health condition that requires a special diet.
Problems with High Protein Diets
There have been some reports of dogs experiencing high protein dog food problems. These problems may be isolated to certain high protein dog food brands, or to foods with a specific protein content. Some of these problems are associated with the fact that high protein dog food formulas can also be higher in calories. This means that a dog owner that doesn’t abide by the directions, they can potentially overfeed their dog, which may contribute to obesity. Some dogs may also experience digestive problems when switched to a high protein diet, especially if they’ve been consuming a diet that is much lower in protein. Some dog nutritional experts cite high protein dog food as causing kidney problems, but this is subject to much debate.