Feed Your Dog This Not That: Protein Part 3

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Evaluating the protein in a dog food requires a multi-faceted approach.   Besides looking for named meat and fish as the primary protein source, one must also watch for other added protein sources that, while helping increase the total protein content of the dog food, might not be really species appropriate.


Feed this Not that_Protein Pt3

A dog’s carnivorous nature means that animal and fish proteins should dominate the recipe.  Since pet food manufacturers are aware that consumers have been trained to look for a protein as the first ingredient, they will often configure recipes where this is so.  However, the rest of the recipe can be ‘carb heavy’ and thus, reduce the protein percentage of the food.  A relatively cheap way to keep the protein percentage in an acceptable range (acceptable to the Brand) is to use plant proteins in the formulation.


Where most meat and fish proteins are complete, plant proteins are not complete proteins with respect to their amino acid components.  Furthermore, a dog’s body is meant to utilize meat and fish based proteins while plant based foods are not efficiently processed by a dog.  Thus, including plant proteins in a dog food recipe is a ‘work around’ solution to raising a dog food’s protein content and it is not optimal.


Common Plant Proteins in Dog Food

Don’t misunderstand my meaning here.  I am a big proponent of including fruits and vegetables (and even some legumes) in a dog’s diet. They can provide valuable nutrition and fiber to keep a dog healthy. However, some pet food Brands will add plant based protein extracts to their recipes directly.  This is generally an indication of a sub-optimal recipe.


Feed Your Dog This, Not That

The best protein sources for dogs are whole, named meats and fish, not plant based proteins.  When evaluating a dog food, make sure to feed them foods that contain the right kinds of proteins, like shown in the table below.


Feed This Not That
Chicken Pea protein
Bison Potato protein
Duck Soy
Whitefish Wheat gluten


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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this list. Have a great night.
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