Best Protein Sources for Dogs
Last week, I wrote about amino acids and why some are considered essential from a dietary perspective – the essential amino acids are those that the dog’s body can’t produce on its own and therefore these aminos must be supplied via diet. The implication of this is that a dog should be fed foods that contain the proteins that will adequately supply the body with these essential amino acids.
Choosing appropriate proteins sources for a dog is more than just choosing proteins that supply the essential amino acids. A species appropriate protein, and one that makes sense for any individual dog should also have the following attributes:
- Easy to digest.
- Easy for the body to utilize for body repairs, growth and maintenance.
- From a nutrigenomics perspective, it must send the ‘right’ messages to the epigenome and thus, promote healthy gene expression, instead of unhealthy gene expression.
- Should not contribute to or aggravate a specific dog’s food sensitivity or allergy.
Best Protein Sources for a Dog
Proteins that match the above list of attributes and also provide a dog with the essentials amino acids are the best proteins for a dog. These are listed below.
- Dairy products from goat or sheep sources
- Fish that is wild caught and low in mercury (e.g. wild caught salmon, Pollack, sardines)
- Muscle meat from foods that are less likely to cause a food sensitivity or allergic reaction. Examples include pork, bison, turkey, rabbit, and duck (there are many others as well)
- Organ meat from foods that are less likely to cause a food sensitivity or allergic reaction (see above)
You will notice that most of the more popular protein sources are absent from the list! There is no corn, soy or wheat on this list. Plant and grain based proteins are excluded because they are not easily utilized by a dog’s body and are usually less than complete sources of the essential amino acids.
Also omitted are chicken and beef because they are so prevalent in foods and treats and are more likely to cause a food sensitivity or allergic reaction.
For those pet parents who want to take it a step further, optimal protein sources that are organic, antibiotic and hormone free, free range or wild caught, unadulterated (e.g. non-GMO) and minimally processed are always superior to the other ‘cheaper’ forms of each protein.