While I have already written on this topic in the past, I am revisiting the subject due to numerous questions on protein I have received in the last month. There seems to be a lot of misinformation on protein in the diet, so I will try and give an overview on protein in this newsletter to help answer some of your questions and concerns.
Protein is found in most foods, including carbohydrates. But dogs are carnivores and the best source of protein for them is found in animal products. This would include meat (pork, beef, poultry, lamb, rabbit, fish, dairy and eggs, just to mention a few). Animal based proteins contain a complete amino acid profile needed by carnivores. Plant based proteins are missing important amino acids, including taurine and carnitine. Both of these are important for heart and organ health. Heat also affects the integrity of these amino acids, so they can also be lacking in a processed diet (commercial dog food) or heavily cooked home diets. Do remember to not overcook the meats in homemade diets and do try to add fresh animal protein to dry dog food diets.
Too Much Protein?
The anatomy and digestive process of dogs are designed to most easily digest animal fat and protein. Dogs perform best on animal based products. Studies have shown you cannot feed a dog too much protein. (For more information about this, you can review the past newsletter on protein at http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/protein/.) I have had questions from people with concerns that protein can cause kidney problems. Some of this confusion results from the idea that dogs with renal issues need a low protein diet. This is not correct. Dogs in chronic renal failure will have some comfort with less *phosphorus* in the diet. It is possible to feed a low phosphorus diet, but still have a good amount of high quality protein. Protein is necessary for healthy kidneys. But feeding a high protein diet will not cause renal problems. For more information on this, refer to:
Also remember, senior dogs need *more* protein than adults. As our dogs age, proteins help with organ function, coat, skin, and immunity. Puppies also require high protein for good growth and maturity. Protein does not cause panosteitis or other growth problems. Read more:
Which Proteins are Good to Feed?
Most animal based proteins are good for dogs. This would include beef, pork, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. It also includes a small percentage of organ meat, such as kidney and liver. I have seen recipes that included soy products such as tofu, but I would not recommend this. Soy products block the uptake of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and iodine. And soy is plant based, so it does not contain the full complement of amino acids needed for canine good health.
If you are feeding a dry dog food, it is easy to add quality protein to kibble. You can add up to 50% in animal based proteins and fats. For recipe suggestions:
Home cooking is also an option. In this manner, you can control the ingredients of your dog’s diet, which can be helpful in cases of allergies, illness or managing weight. For instructions and recipes:
Feeding a raw diet is also an option and raw meat diets can be simpler to make as you don’t have to deal with the hassle of cooking. Here are some guidelines and recipe suggestions:
As you can see, there is no one way to feed your dog. There are many options available, and an important element is to insure your dog is getting high quality, easily digested animal based proteins. This can be done with a commercial diet, home cooked diet or feeding a raw diet. These methods can be combined to fit your time frame and lifestyle, and the improvement in your dog’s diet will be seen quickly through your dog’s energy level, coat and skin, cleaner teeth and their joy and anticipation of eating foods that are tasty and nutritious.
I wish everyone a very Happy Saint Patrick’s day, and may March bring us closer to warm weather and spending more time outdoors with our dogs.
Copyright Lew Olson 2009