Just like any other macronutrient, protein is a vital component of your dog’s food so that they can lead a healthy life. But exactly how much protein does a dog need?
Enough Protein vs. Excessive Protein
Recommended protein intake
As with any dietary question, this one depends on factors such as the dog’s life stage and activity level. In general, the protein amount will be a certain percentage of their total daily caloric intake recommendation. In case you didn’t determine this figure from your vet, that’s usually around 3 percent of their ideal body weight. If your dog is currently at 40 pounds and he or she looked much better at 30, aim for about 1.2 pounds of food daily.
Growing puppies and young adult dogs are advised to consume a minimum of 22 percent crude protein, calculated on a dry matter basis, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Dogs in later life stages, on the other hand, are advised to consume around 18 percent protein to maintain their health.
Keep in mind that this includes every other protein source, such as eggs, corn, etc. You’re also advised to look into other sources of dietary protein, as it may not be ideal to take your dog’s protein entirely or mostly from meat.
This can be either due to body weight concerns, food allergies, or other reasons. And there’s also the matter of having to split your dog’s daily diet between high quality protein sources and other nutrients.
It’s recommended that you intersperse dog foods that temper your dog’s protein consumption. For example, a chicken meal with some pea protein would be a good way to give them some downtime from a more dense protein source while still giving them the protein they need.
Ollie’s fresh pet meals offer a simple and easy way to achieve an ideal nutrient mix in your pet food, so be sure to consider them if you’re not capable of whipping something up at home.
How much protein is too much?
There is also such a thing as too much protein for dogs. High protein diets are not recommended for dogs.
There are a few reasons for this. The first being that protein-rich food, especially if coming an animal-based protein source, is remarkably energy dense. Too much protein means too much energy, which means that all the excess will be stored as fat.
An excess of protein is also strongly associated with kidney disease. This is because protein breakdown is hard work for the kidneys. A too-high amount of protein can’t get filtered properly, and as a result, waste can accumulate in the blood vessels.
If you’re having trouble determining proper portions, there are dog food subscription services that make it a point to perfectly portion each meal. Nom Nom’s fresh dog food is an excellent example of this.
Why Dogs Need Protein More Than We Do?
Protein, as we all know, are the main building blocks of all parts of our body. We need it in order to grow and remain healthy throughout our adult lives. But for dogs, the function of protein extends beyond just to maintain muscles and organs.
One of the main reasons protein is essential for dogs is so that they can keep their nails healthy.
Keratin, the stuff in our nails, is a protein. As a human, you may think of nails as low on the list of priorities for body parts to maintain. But nails serve a number of crucial functions for dogs.
For one thing, the integrity of the nails actually affects a dog’s balance and posture, seeing as they’re always at full contact with the ground. They also help them run better by giving them traction, and of course, they’re essential for them to be able to dig effectively .
Another reason is to ensure that their fur stays lush and vibrant, as well as promoting healthy skin. A good supply of high quality protein keeps dogs’ coats and skin healthy. Otherwise, their coats are liable to become dull and patchy due to the strands losing their vibrance and falling off.
Additionally, protein is the main raw material that dogs need to process essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, and synthesize hormones. Humans are also unable to produce these substances by themselves, but can derive most of their requirements from plant-based proteins. The same cannot be said for dogs, who need animal protein sources in order to ensure that they get enough. There are also some important substances that dogs can only get from high protein sources, which aren’t really essential for humans.
These are only some of the reasons why protein is a more important nutrient for dogs than for humans. There’s far more danger of running out of this important nutrient for dogs than for human, since so many of their bodily functions require protein. Essential amino acids and other protein-associated nutrients are drawn away from important systems like their immune system, so they need to really load up on protein content to make up for that. That’s why given the choice, dogs will prefer red meat over any other kind of food.
That being said, it’s still imperative that you pay close attention to what goes into the dog food you serve. It’s much more important that you get dog foods that are built around a balanced diet rather than just ensuring they get enough proteins.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much protein does a dog need daily?
It’s recommended that proteins take up 22 percent of a dog’s daily caloric intake. For growing puppies and young adult dogs, this percentage can go up to 29 percent. Older dogs are advised to consume only about 18 percent protein.
Is 30% protein too much for a dog?
This depends on the dog’s physical characteristics and activity level. A dog that does a lot of hard work, is recuperating from an injury, or is undergoing a growth spurt typically need more protein. If your dog does not belong to any of these categories, it’s better to stay below 30 percent protein.
How much protein should a 50 pound dog eat?
For an adult dog, go for anywhere from 0.27 to 0.33 pounds of crude protein, sticking to the lower end for older dogs. This assumes that 50 pounds is their ideal weight, however. If you want your dog’s body weight to be, say, 40 pounds, somewhere around 0.21 to 0.25 pounds of crude protein should be good.
What happens if a dog has too much protein?
A number of things could happen, from something as simple as weight gain to something as complicated as kidney failure. That’s why it’s advised that you keep your dog’s protein intake at manageable levels.