Protein And Your Dog

by Nancy Boland

Protein, a vital diet component found in meat, fish, eggs and some plant matter is necessary for a balanced and healthy diet and should be at the top of your dog food’s ingredients listing. However, protein can be a complicated matter and many dog owners are unsure of exactly how much protein is necessary for their dog.

The role of protein

Most dogs should be eating around 20-30% of protein as part of a balanced diet. All dogs need a certain percentage of protein in their diets, and it is not possible to feed a very low or zero protein diet to your dog and expect them to thrive. Protein helps to support good muscle tone, strong healthy bones, the appropriate body mass, and correct nerve function.

If a dog does not get enough protein within their diet, they will find it very hard to maintain a healthy body weight, and will generally be rather thin and generally look in poor condition. However, exactly how much protein your dog ultimately needs to thrive will depend on factors such as their age, breeding, size, wellbeing and health, and how active they are.

Quality Protein

Better quality dog foods will contain protein from a better quality source, and ideally, the main source of protein within the food should be a named, good quality meat listed as chicken, fish, beef or lamb or example and not a generic name like meat or by-products. Meat by-products, soya, wheat and corn do not provide good quality protein for your dog, so steer clear of these within ingredient listings.

Breeds that need more Protein

Certain types of dogs and dogs at different life stages will need more protein than others, with puppies being top of the list as they need plenty of protein to support healthy growth and development. Bitches that are pregnant or nursing need lots of protein, as do very active dogs that work outside, get lots of exercise, or compete in canine sports.

Breeds that need less Protein

Diets aimed at mature dogs are generally rather lower in protein than those for adult dogs, as this is easier to digest and also, the older the dog, the less active they will tend to be.

Certain health issues also dictate that a lower protein diet is needed, particularly in the case of diabetic dogs or those with impaired kidney or liver function.

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