3 Types of Dogs Who Benefit From a High-Protein Dog Food

By: Jorge SanchezUpdated:

high protein dog food
Photo: Chewy Studios

3 Types of Dogs Who Benefit From a High-Protein Dog Food

You know that getting enough protein is part of eating a well-balanced diet for humans. But did you know the same applies to your dog?

When you feed your dog the proper amount and type of protein, he can make and maintain all the protein-containing tissues and molecules in his body, which include muscle, skin, hair, antibodies and hormones, explains Jennifer Coates, DVM, a veterinary consultant in Fort Collins, Colorado.

So, how much protein does your dog need to reap these benefits? Would a high-protein dog food be the answer?

Every dogs’ dietary needs are unique. Because of this, Dr. Coates stresses that your veterinarian is your go-to authority when determining which dog food is best for your specific dog. That said, in general, Dr. Coates says three types of dogs usually need a high-protein dog food: highly active dogs, puppies and seniors.

Highly Active Dogs

Highly Active Dogs
Photo: iStock.com/Alfa Studio

If you have a highly active dog—a working dog, a canine athlete or an everyday trailblazer—a high-protein dog food can help “build the necessary muscles and repair them after an intense workout,” says Dr. Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.”

Higher protein levels also can be a source of energy for active dogs.

“Once all of a dog’s protein needs are met, excess protein gets converted into energy,” Dr. Coates adds.

When adult dogs are active, they experience protein turnover. The body builds up and breaks down muscle protein during and after exercise, so dogs rely on dietary protein to meet their metabolic needs. Active dogs that do not receive adequate dietary protein can become fatigued and suffer from muscle loss. If your dog isn’t exercising regularly, however, Dr. Coates warns that those extra calories from protein can get converted into fat.

For active dogs, try American Journey’s Protein & Grains Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dry Dog Food. This balanced diet provides 25 percent high-quality protein from real, deboned salmon as the first ingredient. The kibble also boasts a blend of antioxidants and fiber-rich grains to support a healthy immune system and overall well-being. Or, give Orijen’s Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food a shot. It’s crafted with 85 percent premium animal ingredients, including poultry and fish.

American Journey Protein & Grains Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dry Dog Food
$56.99
FREE 1-3 day shipping
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
$105.99
FREE 1-3 day shipping

Growing Puppies

Growing Puppies
Photo: iStock.com/cmannphoto

Normal growth and development in puppies depend on many complex factors, adequate protein levels being one of them, Dr. Coates says. One of the reasons is simple: Muscles need protein to grow, and puppy muscles have a lot of growing to do.

Another reason why higher levels of protein might contribute to normal puppy growth is that, as Dr. Coates already pointed out, protein is essential to more than just muscle growth. Protein is a vital component in maintaining normal immune system function as well as a healthy skin and coat.

Aside from puppies, Dr. Coates says that a high-protein dog food is also necessary for pregnant or lactating pooches as well.

For dry puppy food, Hill’s Science Diet’s high-protein Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food for large breeds is a complete and balanced diet made from natural, high-quality ingredients and recommended for puppies up to 1 year of age. American Journey’s Protein & Grains Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dog Food is also crafted to fuel your puppy’s day.

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food
$78.99
FREE 1-3 day shipping

Temporarily out of stock

American Journey Protein & Grains Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dog Food
$52.99
FREE 1-3 day shipping
For wet food, Purina Pro Plan’s High Protein Chicken & Rice Wet Dog Food boasts real chicken as the No. 1 ingredient and features brain-nourishing nutrients, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for brain and vision development. Blue Buffalo’s Baby Blue Healthy Growth Formula Puppy Wet Food is a high-protein, grain-free recipe you can feed as a complete and balanced meal or mix into dry kibble.
Purina Pro Plan Sport Puppy High Protein Chicken & Rice Wet Dog Food (case of 12)
$42.63
Blue Buffalo Baby Blue Healthy Growth Formula Grain-Free High Protein Turkey & Potato Recipe Puppy Wet Food (case of 12)
$42.12

Senior Dogs

Senior Dogs
Photo: iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

If a higher protein diet is healthy for growing pups, can it be healthy for older dogs, too? The answer is yes!

High-protein dog food can also benefit senior dogs because they can experience muscle wasting, which means they lose muscle mass with aging, she explains. Less muscle makes it harder for older dogs to stay active and healthy since muscles power activity and play.

While protein is essential for muscle growth, it also is needed to maintain muscle, Dr. Coates says. For these reasons, she encourages senior dog parents to consider high-protein dog food to keep pets at their best during their golden years.

Some older dogs have trouble metabolizing nutrients as they become older. Increased protein in their food can help boost their immune system, in addition to helping to prevent their muscles from wasting.

For wet food, which is great for senior dogs as the texture is easier to chew and the smell is more pungent, Hill’s Science Diet’s Adult 7+ Savory Stew with Chicken & Vegetables Canned Dog Food is formulated with high-quality, lean protein to promote lean muscle and help maintain a healthy weight. It’s also made with gentle fibers to promote digestive health. American Journey’s Chicken & Garden Vegetables Recipe Canned Dog Food provides a precise blend of nutrients and antioxidant-rich ingredients to support healthy immune system and overall wellness.

For kibble, American Journey’s Senior Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe helps support brain health in aging dogs to encourage cognitive wellness. Plus, its antioxidant blend helps support a healthy immune system, while omega fatty acids help maintain skin and coat health. The kibble is formulated for small breeds to large breed sizes.

American Journey Chicken & Garden Vegetables Recipe Canned Dog Food (case of 12)
$32.99
Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Savory Stew with Chicken & Vegetables Canned Dog Food (case of 12)
$41.87
American Journey Protein & Grains Senior Chicken, Brown Rice & Vegetables Recipe Dry Dog Food
$49.99
FREE 1-3 day shipping
There are some exceptions, though. Dr. Coates says dogs who have been diagnosed with kidney or liver disorders should avoid high-protein dog food because higher protein levels might aggravate these conditions. It’s best to check with your veterinarian to see if your senior dog is a good candidate for a high-protein diet.
There are many things to consider when looking for the best dog food for your canine companion. Of all the nutrients to think about, protein stands out as one you should keep an eye out for. And, according to veterinarians like Dr. Coates, when it comes to very active dogs, puppies and seniors, more protein can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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By: Jorge SanchezUpdated:

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