Maybe you've Googled, "which dog food has the highest protein". While searching, you've probably come across recipes for homemade dog food, diets with lots of meat, and raw dog food too, right?
There's so much conflicting information about the best dog food for your dog, and protein is often at the very center of it all. Protein is obviously important, but how do you know what level is right for your dog?
When Protein Is Great
You already know that quality protein is incredibly vital in your dog's diet. Protein supplies amino acids, which act as the building blocks of your dog's body. Amino acids build organs and tissues like tendons, muscles, skin, hair and blood, and they also function as enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Protein, when delivered in the right amounts, is an incredible nutrient.
Every dog needs protein, and certain dogs can benefit from high protein dog food diets - especially growing puppies, pregnant dogs, senior dogs, extremely active dogs, and those who are overweight. So the more protein building blocks in a dog's food, the healthier that dog is, right? Well. Not so much. (When has nutrition ever been that simple?)
When A High Protein Dog Food Isn't Appropriate
When a dog's diet provides him more protein than his body actually needs, his body doesn't use it for more muscles or even store it for later. If that excess protein isn't used up as an inefficient source of energy, then it's simply excreted via urine and feces. Unfortunately, high protein dog food diets are incredibly popular these days, especially with trends that encourage dog owners to feed raw and homemade diets that focus on meat, meat, meat...instead of a complete and balanced diet designed for their omnivorous physiology.
"Excess dietary protein is excreted in the urine and feces. If you're paying more for a high protein dog food that isn't right for your dog...you could literally be flushing your money away."
More Protein Does Not Mean Higher Quality Dog Food
Neither veterinarians nor dog owners can determine the quality of dog food ingredients by looking at the product label, contrary to what many dog food blogs say. For example, you can get steak at a fast food chain or at a fancy steakhouse in NYC. Both ingredient labels will say “steak”, but the quality may be drastically different. Your dog’s food isn’t any different. Even if the label says it's a high protein dog food, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a better quality dog food.
Not to mention, that "high protein" claim on the dog food label is a bit of a moving target. AAFCO doesn't have any regulations about what high protein dog food should be, so be wary of any dog food company that brags about its protein content without considering your dog's needs.
How Much Protein Does My Dog Need?
Since your dog isn't exactly like any other dog, there's no one right answer. Protein needs are based on factors like breed size, age, weight, and body condition...plus activity level and lifestyle. With so many variables influencing your dog's protein needs, it can be confusing knowing exactly what's the best dog food for your dog. That's why it's nice to have an expert on your side. With Just Right by Purina, you can create a personalized blend of dog food that's tailored to your dog's nutritional needs.
If you have any questions about protein in dog food, comment below or chat with us! We're here to help.