High Protein Dog Food
To stay in the best of health, dogs need to eat a balanced diet that provides the right mix of nutrients their body requires. Dogs need to get adequate protein and fat from their diet and the majority of commercial dog food meets or exceeds the recommended levels.
Dogs require different amounts of protein according to their age, breed and lifestyle. Puppies need extra protein as to build bones and muscles as they are growing and developing. Lactating dogs needs more protein because they are producing milk to feed their puppies. Very active breeds and adult working dogs will also have greater protein needs than older or senior dogs. There are wet and dry dog foods available for different life stages and breeds to cater for these differing nutritional requirements.
In recent years there has been a trend towards people believing an “ancestral food” diet is the healthiest, such as the popular Paleo diet. This trend in human diets has been reflected by the dog food industry, which realises that dog owners see their dog as a member of the family and want it to eat the best quality food. As a result, there are now a number of brands offering high protein dog foods based on ancestral diet principles, although these don’t tend to be cheap!
What are the benefits of a high protein diet?
Ancestral or whole prey dog food is very high in protein because it is made from ingredients that dogs’ wild ancestors would have naturally eaten in the wild – nearly exclusively animal protein of some kind.
Because of the very high meat content, these foods aren’t just protein rich, they are also high in fat and low in carbs. Proponents of a high protein diet for dogs believe dogs haven’t evolved and aren’t genetically designed to eat a diet high in plant based proteins and carbohydrates. They think that some dogs aren’t able to properly digest starchy carbohydrates such as grain and potatoes and that the high carb content of many conventional kibbles and wet dog food can cause some dogs to experience symptoms of a sensitive stomach or food intolerance, such as diarrhea, loose stools, bloating or gas.
Consuming foods that contain a lot of high glycemic carbohydrates like corn, white rice and potatoes, can cause weight gain, obesity and associated health issues such as diabetes.
Therefore, owners often switch their dog to a high protein diet to help it lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, to improve its blood sugar levels, and to clear up digestive issues. In online reviews, owners of dogs eating a high protein food report seeing health benefits such as increased energy, improved digestion, a shinier coat and healthier skin.
Some people are concerned about the possible side effects of feeding their dog too much protein, such a kidney problems, but actually excess protein is generally excreted in urine, or stored as fat and used as calories. Owners should seek the advice of a vet before switching their dog to a high protein diet to alleviate any concerns.
What to look for in a high protein dog food
Owners should not just focus on the amount of protein in a kibble or canned dog food. The quality of the protein is very important to ensure that a dog is getting enough of the ten essential amino acids that must come from its diet. A good quality protein source delivers good protein digestibility, amino acid balance and bioavailability.
Ingredients to look for are real whole meats, including beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck and salmon, and should be listed as the first ingredient. The specific meat should be named rather than just labelled “meat” or “meat meal”. The main three or four ingredients should be a recognizable source of protein.
The top quality dog foods are those made with real, natural ingredients and without cheap, high carb fillers or artificial chemical additives such as colors, flavors and preservatives. In fact, most high protein dog foods are also grain free, so won’t contain things like corn and wheat.
Because of the amount of real meat in the best high protein dog food recipes, the prices tend to be expensive in comparison with regular dog food formulas that have a higher carb content. However, many owners are happy to spend more on super premium brands knowing they are giving their furry family member a healthy diet.