Dogs need protein to survive and thrive. Rich in essential amino acids, proteins are essential to our dogs’ health as they help build and repair muscles, keep their skin & coat healthy and give them energy.
But, what are the different sources of protein? Is there a meat that is better than another? Which one should your dog eat?
Not all dogs handle every protein source well (because of allergies or other health issues) so it’s important to be familiar with the world of protein.
Best protein source for dogs
The most common protein source by far, chicken is a healthy, lean meat, that is highly digestible and low in fat.
Chicken is rich in Vitamin B12 which is required for the function and development of many parts of your dog’s body, including the brain, nerves, and blood cells.
You will be surprised to know that eggs can be a better source of protein than most meats because they are highly digestible, which means that dogs can assimilate more protein from them.
Eggs are rich in essential fatty and amino acids (the guys responsible for protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.) They are a fantastic source of protein for homemade dog food.
Best for allergies
Cooked salmon is a great protein for dogs and provides a range of benefits from its omega fatty acids. Dogs would not normally eat that many fish in the wild, so we recommend feeding fish as a rotational protein.
Kangaroo, Venison or crocodile
These “novelty” meats are great if your dog has developed allergies to chicken, beef or lamb. They are not commonly used in pet food, so your dog wouldn't have been exposed to them and developed food sensitivities.
Kangaroo is a lean read meat, suitable for dogs with pancreatitis. Rich in zinc and iron, it can help strengthen your dog’s immune system and lead to fast recovery from wounds and diseases.
Crocodile is hypoallergenic and the best meat for dogs with skin allergies.
Not all source of protein come from meat.
Plant-based protein can be helpful in the treatment of food allergies, skin and ear infections. If your dog is on an elimination diet to try and discover which meat they are allergic to, consider introducing quinoa or legumes (chickpeas, lentils and beans) as a source of protein.
Note: Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet or pet nutritionist if you would like to introduce a new form of protein to your dog’s diet.
How to pick dog food with high quality proteins?
Unless you’re cooking for your dog, you will have to carefully read dog food labels to make sure the source of protein is of good quality.
For this, we recommend you stay away from anything that states "meat-by-product" or "meat meal".
According to the definition by the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) which sets the standards in pet food, meat-by-product is the non-rendered parts, other than meat, derived from the animal; in other words, every part of the animal except the meat: carcasses, internal organs, fatty-tissues etc.
Meat meal is all of the above, cooked and process under high heat, and dehydrated into a dry powder that goes into kibble.
If the name of the meat is not mentioned (such as "chicken meal", or "beef meal") it means it’s a mix of different animals and you don’t know exactly what protein you’re feeding your dog.
Most of the rendered meat (or meat meal) comes from animals that were deemed not suitable for human consumption. While this meat is cooked at a high temperature, enough to kill any harmful bacteria, the cooking process also kills off most of the healthy nutrients.
As you can see, this is not the meat we normally have in mind!
No matter how good a company can be at marketing, if the label indicates “poultry-by-products”, you can be sure it’s far from the juicy chicken breast pictured on the front of the pack!
Instead, we recommend you look for a brand that uses human grade, organic or natural ingredients, wild-caught (for salmon) or better yet, cook the meat yourself, choosing the same quality meat you would use for your own dinner (not seasoned or marinated of course).
Doggy Grub selects high quality proteins that are human grade. We use chicken breasts, hearts and liver, and free-range kangaroo meat. All our meat is processed in a human-grade facility and is intended for human consumption.
Why do we choose human-grade ingredients? Because it’s the only way for us to make sure your dog gets the real stuff!
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The Doggy Grub blog is dedicated to helping dogs and their owners achieve happier, healthier lives, changing the way we feed our dogs one bowl at a time! If you would like to know more about our fresh food head to Doggy Grub