You are what you eat, and a high-quality diet is key for maintaining a high quality of life.
Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can survive on a diet of both animal and plant-based foods. In order for your dog to fully thrive, though, his food should always contain an animal protein source: meat!
Read on to learn more about protein for dogs, so you can make the best food choices for your furry friend.
Why is Protein Important for Dogs?
Protein plays a variety of significant roles in the body: it maintains muscle, coat, skin, and nail health; it boosts the immune system; it acts as a source of energy for your pooch.
When your dog eats protein, his body releases amino acids which are then reassembled into crucial proteins. If your dog doesn’t get enough protein, his body will be forced to access the amino acids through his muscles and other tissues.
Your dog should regularly consume enough protein in order to maintain optimal health. Signs of protein deficiencies in dogs include:
How Much Protein Do Dogs Need?
As mentioned above, dogs should eat a diet containing a variety of meats and vegetables. That said, they rely most heavily on digestible protein sources.
Dogs need about one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. And when we say body weight, we mean his ideal body weight. For example: if your dog’s ideal body weight is 30 pounds, he should be eating 30 grams of protein per day—even if he weighs closer to 40 pounds.
The percentage of protein your dog needs in his diet varies by age. Adult dogs typically need anywhere from 18-25% protein, while growing puppies should have closer to 29% protein.
Every dog is different; for individualized insight, we always recommend consulting with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
What Protein is Best for Dogs?
Whether you feed your dog kibble or a raw diet, protein should always be a primary ingredient. When looking at your dog’s food label, meat should be listed within the first 5 ingredients—ideally, first.
Popular protein sources for dogs include:
Muscle meats such as hearts, livers, and kidneys can also be good sources of protein. And, while they’re not meat, eggs and cheese can also be healthy protein sources for your dog (though not nearly as popular as meat protein).
The best protein source for your dog can vary depending on a few factors including weight, physical activity, and overall health (not to mention food allergies and preferences). For example, some dogs need to focus on lean proteins such as duck or chicken, while others may want the omega-3s provided by fish.
For example, the best protein for dogs with allergies tend to include:
The best protein sources for active dogs include:
The best protein sources for overweight dogs include lean meats such as:
Not all meat-based proteins—or dogs—are created equal. Talk to your vet to come up with a personalized meal plan for your dog.
Adding More Protein to Your Dog’s Diet
If your dog is having trouble eating enough protein, there are a few ways you can supplement his diet with added protein.
Assuming his dry food already contains a protein source, add raw, hard-boiled, or scrambled egg (with minimal butter or oil) to his meals. Eggs are generally not sufficient as a primary protein source, but they can certainly act as a supplement.
You can also add try mixing canned fish into his kibble for some extra protein and nutrients. Plus, your pup will likely appreciate the added flavor and texture!
Fresh meat (without skin and seasoning) can also be a good source of protein. Share some cooked chicken or turkey with your furry friend while you’re prepping your own dinner for a tasty, protein-packed treat.
Keep in mind that for some dogs, a high protein diet can be problematic, as it may exacerbate medical conditions. Hyperactive dogs may also benefit from a lower protein diet. And, as always, monitor your dog closely for any signs of food allergies anytime you introduce a new food to his diet.
Promote your dog’s digestion with Pet Honesty’s Digestive Probiotics Chews. These tasty duck-flavored chews are made from natural ingredients and are safe for pups with sensitive stomachs.