Protein is essential for your dog’s growth. Deficiency in protein can lower energy levels in your pet and directly affect their muscle and cell development. Protein is also responsible for your dog’s healthy hair, skin, solid joints, and repairing damaged tissues.
On the other hand, adding too much protein to your dog’s diet is bad and will negatively affect its health. Not to forget, dog obesity is also increasing, and excess protein is one of the causes. In this article, we will discuss twelve of the best protein sources for dogs.
12 Best Sources of Protein For Dogs
All dogs cannot eat all types of proteins because your pet may not like the taste or might be allergic to some food options. Nutritional requirements also vary from breed to breed, so we have compiled a list below of the good protein sources for dogs.
Dogs enjoy eating fish. The shorter-lived species such as whitefish and salmon fish are a healthy protein source for your dog.
In addition, salmon is a common ingredient in good-quality dog food products. A salmon-based diet is high in protein, good fats, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating these good fats helps boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and even helps keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy. When it comes to canned fish, you can serve 1/4th of the contents of the can each day.
Chicken is considered the best protein for dogs since it is not just another protein-rich food but also a budget-friendly option.
However, you must be careful with raw chicken because raw chicken may trigger bacterial infections or salmonella. However, some dogs are allergic to chicken. Not only this, chicken is among the most common allergy-causing ingredients.
Hence, as a pet parent, you must ensure your doggo is not allergic to chicken. The thumb rule with chicken is that for every 20 pounds of your dog’s body weight, you should serve around ⅓ to ¼ cup of chicken.
Duck is packed with the goodness of iron and amino acids and is a high-protein food for dogs. Consuming duck is beneficial for a dog’s muscles, and it is also easier on your doggo’s tummy.
You can give duck to dogs dealing with food allergies and sensitivities. When cooking duck for your pet, you should make it plain, so do not add any extra herbs or spices you would usually add. Eating too much duck can lead to obesity, so you should always serve it in moderate amounts.
Pork is a highly digestible protein. The best part about pork is that it is rich in amino acids and contains a higher calorie count than other meats.
It is perfect if your doggo is allergic to other meat options since pork is less likely to trigger an allergy. However, the pork you feed your pet should not be the same one you are preparing for yourself because it cannot contain onion powder, garlic powder, and nutmeg, which are extremely dangerous for dogs.
Beef is a high vitamin and protein food for dogs that is extremely helpful to your pet in building their muscle. It is one of the best options for your dog because it is low-fat, unlike other common protein foods.
Your dog may eat lean beef, but you must ensure you cook it well and avoid seasoning it with any potentially poisonous herb or spice. However, your pet may be allergic to beef, so you must be careful while introducing it to your pet.
Like most red meats, lamb is one of the best protein sources for dogs. Lamb contains niacin, amino acids, dietary fats, and vitamin B12. These nutrients help your pet maintain its body tissue and also its development. Not only this, it helps your dog maintain a silky and shiny coat.
You must, however, refrain from feeding raw lamb to your dog and opt for the cooked and unseasoned version because raw lamb can also cause bacterial contamination and infections in your pet.
Rabbit is one of the best protein foods for dogs. This meat is low in fat, cholesterol, calories, and even saturated fats. Low calories make it a delicious food option for pets who need to lose weight.
However, like other meats, feeding raw rabbit meat to your dog can invite stomach infections. If you are serving rabbit ears to your dog, you should avoid giving them more than twice or thrice a week.
Venison is one of the most nutritious protein sources for dogs. Unlike other red meats, it is low on saturated fats and it is also low on sodium.
Venison meat is essentially carbohydrate-free and contains vitamins such as B6 and B12, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and niacin.
Also, many dogs enjoy the taste of venison, so this is also a good reason for you to try feeding them a yummy venison treat.
Feeding eggs to dogs is a great option for including protein in their diet, and they also contain lots of vitamins and fatty acids. Eggs are safe for dogs, but only if you cook them fully. It is advisable to avoid raw egg whites since they can cause salmonella poisoning in your four-legged friend.
Cooked eggs are easy to digest for your dog. You can feed your dog one boiled and an unseasoned egg daily from a trusted organic source.
Organs are highly nutritious meals for dogs. Organ meats are nutrient-dense foods and are incredibly high in vitamins and minerals, provided they come from a healthy animal.
They contain vital vitamins such as A, B, D, and E and essential minerals such as copper, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. If you are considering introducing organ meat to your dog for the very first time, the liver and heart of a chicken and duck are excellent options.
Cheese has proteins, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, and many essential fatty acids. Also, dog parents often use cheese to train puppies and disguise pills.
However, some dogs might be lactose intolerant, and even if your pet can take lactose, experts recommend feeding it in moderation. Be careful of the symptoms of lactose intolerance in your pet, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or bloating while feeding them cheese, and if you see any, you should immediately talk to your vet.
Meat meal is not the same as meat by-products because real meat is dried and then reduced to smaller powder-like particles to form a meat meal.
This process removes water and fat in meat, leaving a highly concentrated source of protein. A meat meal is easy to digest for your dog and is an excellent source of protein.
Why Do Dogs Need Protein?
Protein contributes to your furry friend’s muscle development, helping build strong joints and tissue repair. Dogs get the energy to meet their everyday activities primarily from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is essential to include protein-rich foods in your dog’s diet, such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and other sources.
It is also important to include essential amino acids in your dog’s diet since they help your pet in cell production. Dogs cannot make these essential amino acids in their bodies. Many foods such as cheese, eggs, and fish that are good protein sources are also good sources of amino acids. Others include quinoa, mushrooms, and legumes.
Also, like humans, dogs need a balanced diet to maintain good health. If your dog is not eating a healthy and balanced diet, it can cause nutritional deficiencies and many other problems. Your dog may become lethargic, her immunity might suffer, and her coat may become less dense and shiny.
Protein Needs of Puppies Daily
Puppies should get somewhere between 22-32% protein in their daily diet on a dry matter basis. On a weight basis, a puppy weighing about 12 pounds should get 2oz of protein in its diet every day. Puppies need more proteins than adult dogs because proteins help their bodies grow. Therefore, you cannot give them the same diet as adult dogs.
Moreover, the nutritional requirements of small-breed dogs and large-breed puppies are different. Large breed puppies can be given up to 26% protein by dry matter in their diets. Your vet is the best person to answer all questions for specific breeds.
Protein Needs of Adult Dogs Daily
Adult dogs should get 18% protein for maintenance and about 22% for growth, as per AAFCO. Pregnant and lactating ones should get 28-35% protein.
Dogs cannot live a healthy life with a protein-deficient diet. A healthy adult dog needs to get at least 10% of the total calories they consume from protein. You should feed adult dogs weighing about 33 pounds and about 1oz of crude protein daily. This quantity can increase or decrease based on the weight of the dog.
Best Protein Sources For Dogs: FAQs
Here are answers to some more questions about the right type and quantity of protein in a dog’s diet.
You can improve your dog’s protein intake by introducing protein-rich food to its diet. We have mentioned the best protein sources for dogs in the article above. However, you must be very careful when introducing new foods to dogs because each dog has different allergies and preferences in taste. You should always start with a small slice of the food item to check if your dog is comfortable eating it.
Some proteins are easier to digest than others. Eggs, chicken, lamb, and beef are the most highly digestible proteins. Second on the list of highly digestible proteins for dogs are organ meat, such as the boiled lean breast of a chicken, and plant foods, such as lentils and chickpeas. Plant-based proteins are also easily digestible.
Chicken is usually considered the healthiest meat for dogs because it is lean and high in protein. Turkey, and lean ground beef, are also healthy options for dogs. Whatever meat you choose, you should always follow the rule of cooking well and serving it unseasoned.
Some signs of protein deficiency in dogs are brittle hair and dull coat, reduced/ stunted growth, lower milk production (in new mothers), weight loss, anemia, and sudden behavioral changes. The deficiency of protein in dogs immensely impacts their immune system’s ability to fight infections and diseases and may even make them sick.
Green peas, lentils, chickpeas, soy, and quinoa are some vegan protein sources for dogs, and all of them are easier to digest than their meat counterparts. Many dog foods in the market use protein from vegan sources such as these.
Protein is essential for your dog’s growth, fur, skin, tissue, muscles, and joints. You should opt for the best protein sources for dogs, such as the ones we have recommended above.