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