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
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.
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.
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.
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