Most Common Proteins in Dog Food
As a pet parent of a dog with Osteosarcoma, I have been forced to deal with the reality that my dog Maggie is in need of modern medicine and modern medical care to enable her to live a high quality of life for the time she has remaining. Yet, my belief in using food as a ‘weapon’ to fight disease is as strong as ever. Maggie has been treated by some of the top veterinarian oncologists in the country, and she is also a patient of Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic vet who is well known among pet bloggers.
Dr. Mahaney and I have discussed Maggie’s diet at great length, and I will be sharing some of that information in an upcoming post. As an introduction to that post, I thought it would be a perfect time to update some statistics on dog food, starting with an analysis of the most commonly used protein sources in dog food. Protein is the lynch-pin of a dog’s diet, due to the dog’s carnivorous nature. My discussions with Dr. Mahaney served to confirm and elevate this knowledge as it relates to managing a serious illness like cancer.
Common Dog Food Protein Sources
There are a variety of different meat or fish based proteins sources that are used in commercially available dog food, and I wanted to find the most commonly used proteins. The results of my analysis are shown in the chart below.
Chicken is by far the leader when it comes to dog food protein usage. In some form, it is included in 68% of all dog food recipes. Salmon is a distant second at 21%, nudging out Turkey by a few decimal places.
For those of us with dogs requiring special medical attention, this is a pretty significant bit of information. If, for example, your dog should avoid chicken (as Maggie should), you are forced to eliminate almost 70% of all foods from your consideration pool!
Unfortunately, a pet parent cannot rely on the dog foods recipe name to provide much insight into the protein sources that are included in the food. The chart below compares the ingredient usage frequency (in the food recipe) of the top 5 most common dog food proteins with the food recipe name. As you can see, you can’t judge a dog food by its ‘cover’ (name).
Although Chicken is in 68% of the foods, the word Chicken is in only 24% of the recipe names. Interestingly, a similar although less drastic result obtains for each of the proteins.
The big take away from this data is that a pet parent should be careful when choosing a food, especially when that pet parent is trying to use a rotational feeding strategy or if they are trying to avoid certain ingredients. It is important to read the ingredients and understand the macro nutrient profile in a food before deciding what to feed your pet.