Dogs love protein. The truth is, however, that dogs are not true carnivores that can exist mainly on protein. Technically, they are classed as omnivores, which means they can survive on both animal and plant-based foods. They are unlike cats in that their bodies can manufacture the essential amino acids that cats can only get by ingesting them from other animals. There a few things to keep in mind in deciding how much protein your dog needs.
Pros & Cons of High Protein Diets
In the past, there was some dispute over high-protein diets for dogs. Some dog experts believed that a constant diet of proteins might make dogs' kidneys work too hard to excrete the excess protein and would cause kidney failure. Recent studies like the one done by Case, Carey and Hirakawa have shown, however, that in fact high-protein diets do not cause kidney failure in dogs, nor is it recommended that older dogs have less protein in their diets. For those dogs that do have kidney problems, restricting proteins in the diet may be indicated as needed. Some dog experts advise against feeding large amounts of red meat, such as beef and pork, that are implicated in the formation of some cancers.
Because puppies are growing quickly, they need a high-protein diet for cell and bone growth. Commercial dog food manufacturers do a good job of researching the nutritional needs of dogs, and formulate their foods specifically for different stages of a dog's life.
Because of the needs of the growing puppies inside them, pregnant dogs need a diet rich in protein and nutrients. Puppy food is often given to pregnant dogs for this reason. Always choose commercial dog foods that are well-known for a good track record of nutrition. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a good food for these special situations.
Active & Outdoor Dogs
Dogs engaged in high-energy activities or those that spend a great deal of time outdoors in all kinds of weather need a nutritional, high-protein dog food with enough fat to burn as fuel.
Commercial Vs. Homemade
Some dog owners have become suspicious of all of the additives that are now found in commercial dog food formulas. They may contain colorings, flavor enhancers, preservatives and other additives that may contribute to allergy or digestive problems. A number of homemade diets can be found online, or owners can try one of the many organic, additive-free commercial foods now on the market.