Protein in Dog Food: Common Non-Meat Sources
We have already looked at some of the more common named and unnamed meat based proteins in dog food. Today we will look at other protein sources in dog food, namely plant (or vegetable), legume, and grain sources.
Besides meat and fish, there are other dog food ingredients that can increase the protein in dog food, such as peas, soy, flax, and corn, to name a few. Non-meat based proteins are not optimal for most healthy dogs. The primary reason for this is that a dog’s body is not meant to efficiently digest and utilize the proteins from these sources and thus, their bodies are not able to benefit from that protein when compared to animal protein sources.
We analyzed our food database to determine the most commonly used non-meat based proteins sources and the results are displayed in the graph below.
We chose a list of about 20 ingredients and searched for those most commonly used. Our criteria for inclusion in the list was that it must be a vegetable legume, or grain and it must provide a reasonable amount of protein (for a non-meat based source). At the top of the list are flax (a plant that is sometime classified as a grain) and eggs. Filling out the top 10 are a handful of grains. Soy and pea protein (derived from the legume peas) also made the list.
Many of these ingredients are not necessarily bad for your dog, and some can provide vitamins and minerals that help with their overall diet. However, they can sometimes be used to inflate the protein amount that is reported on the label, a practice that we are against. Beware of just scanning the protein part of the label. Some foods might have adequate amounts of protein but inadequate amounts of useful protein.
Soy, a somewhat controversial pet food ingredient, is pretty high on the list (we will write about soy in more detail in a future post).
We also checked to see the average food rating (according to the SlimDoggy approach) for foods that included these more commonly used non-meat sources. Not surprisingly, the average rating for foods that include any corn, wheat, or soy were 1.8, 1.9, and 2.0 stars respectively, all lower than our average dog food rating of just over 3 stars. And this is despite the fact that our model doesn’t necessarily directly penalize a food for inclusion of these ingredients in the recipe.
The bottom line is that most healthy dogs require a diet that is high in protein, moderately high in fat, and low in carbohydrates. Dogs were meant to be meat eaters and a proper diet will include protein that is derived primarily from meat and fish, not from plants, grains, and legumes.
How does your dog food stack up?
We're joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol's Notes: