Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 5

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This week is the last part of the continuing series on things that people don’t know about dog food.  The first four installments are available by clicking the links below:

Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 1

Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 2

Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 3

Things People Don’t Know About Dog Food: Part 4


Dogs thrive on meat and fish proteins, not on plant based proteins

I often talk about the importance of protein in a dog’s diet.  Choosing a food that contains a species appropriate amount of protein, (and the other macronutrients, fat and carbs, as well) is essential to a dog’s well-being.  Assuming that you know how to calculate the dry matter content of a dog food, and thus, the protein content, then choosing a dog food is easy, right?  Just choose a food that has a lot of protein?


Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.  You see, most of the pet food manufacturers know that you know that protein content is one of the keys to a quality dog food.  Thus, they formulate recipes to meet that market need.  Some manufacturers will load up the formulas with real meats and fish to make sure that the recipe contains the proper macronutrient profile.  Other pet food manufacturers take a different and less healthy approach, by using plant based protein sources to jack up the total protein content.  A dog’s body cannot process plant based proteins as efficiently as they can process animal proteins.  The result is that even though a food might contain the right amount of total protein, the dog’s body is unable to utilize that protein as the food undergoes digestion.

Top Ten Things About Dog Food


Some common examples of plant based proteins include pea protein, potato protein, wheat, and soy.  While each of these ingredients will increase the protein content in food, they are not species appropriate for a dog.  Wheat and soy in particular have no place in a dog’s diet and the other plant proteins, while not necessarily harmful to a dog, are inferior to meat and fish based sources.


Weight control foods are generally not a good choice for an overweight dog

The idea of a diet dog food makes little sense to me.  Since dogs do not control the food choices nor the serving amounts that they get, the pet parent simply needs to dole out the correct amount of food and be done with it.  Yet, pet food manufacturers have come up with weight management formulations that are targeted to pet parents who have overweight dogs, which is a pretty large target market given that over 50% of dog in the U.S. are overweight or obese.


The problem with most weight control dog foods is that they tend to be higher in carbs than normal foods, which is not a smart approach to dealing with an overweight dog.  Instead of choosing a weight control recipe, a pet parent would be far better off choosing a high quality food that is high in protein and fat and low in carbs, and then measure out proper portions.  This combined with regular exercise, is all a dog needs to stay slim, fit, and healthy.


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  1. Oh yes, seeing those weight control foods on our vet’s shelves makes me want to scream!! Instead, they should promote regular exercise and discipline at feeding time!!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Where To Find Freeze-Dried Raw Goodness For Your K9 #MemphisMade by Tukabear TreatsMy Profile

  2. Unless there is a health issue behind it, we are not fans of weight control food diets. Reduce the regular food a bit and start getting exercise for the dog. It seems to us to be a healthier way to get in shape and lose weight.
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  3. I’m not familiar with weight-control foods so I’m not sure how they’re manufactured/marketed. The only guess I have is that they allow dogs to have the same volume of food they’re used to, but with fewer calories. Human diets often promote high volume/low calorie vegetables so maybe there is something similar going on.

    That said, there’s no magic food for dieting. Just consistency.

  4. We just had to learn to say “no” to extra treats and “yes” to more walking. I did an allergy test for Bentley and discovered that he is allergic to whey and green peas among other things.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Runs Be Done by Dr Harvey’sMy Profile

  5. So glad to see your thoughts on so-called diet dog food as a poor substitute for weight control. When we switched to a better overall nutritional dog food and controlled her portions, my sheepdog lost weight and thrived.

  6. So many things to learn about food and what is best!!
    Julie recently posted…Life LatelyMy Profile

  7. I had no idea that dog food manufacturers were using plant-based protein in their food. I always assumed that the majority of the food came from meat sources, even when the main ingredient was meat. Such a tricky tactic.. ugh
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