Your dog needs a certain amount of protein in its diet every day for healthy growth, higher immunity, and balanced hormone production. But knowing protein is essential for your dog isn’t enough. You also need to know the right amount of protein it regularly needs and the type of protein that’ll work best for your furry friend.
So today, we’ll discuss the question “How much protein does a dog need per day?” and the protein servings that dogs of varying ages and breeds require daily. That’ll help you plan your pooch’s diet efficiently and make sure it stays healthy.
How Much Protein Does a Dog Need Per Day?
Regardless of the breed, your dog’s protein requirement depends on its body weight. Typically, a dog needs 1 gram of protein per pound of its total body weight.
For example, if your dog weighs 35 pounds, it’ll require 35 grams of protein per day. Even if your dog is overweight, you should be following the same rule to calculate its protein needs. Do not cut back on protein to get your dog back in shape. It can cause severe harm.
Percentage of Protein in Your Dog’s Food
Many owners prefer to learn the overall percentage of protein required in their dog’s diet along with the ideal amount of daily protein needed to plan a well-balanced meal.
The percentage of protein again depends on your dog’s age and breed. For example, puppies require about 28% of protein per day in their diet. Since they are growing rapidly at this stage, their daily protein requirement is at its peak.
On the other hand, adult dogs require only 18% protein in their diet. Here’s a brief guide to the required percentage of protein in your dog’s diet depending on life stage and activity level:
- Lactating dog: 28%
- Performance dog: 25%
- Sled racing dog: 35%
When your dog’s pregnant or lactating, the puppies take up a huge part of the protein intake, either when they are in the dog’s womb or through the milk once they are born. This can leave the young mother weak and prone to diseases. That’s why it’s essential to take extra care of your dog during this period and provide enough protein for both the mother and the puppies.
Similarly, performance dogs and sled racing dogs have an extremely active lifestyle and require a lot of protein to keep up with it. If you want to maintain their performance and take care of their health simultaneously, a protein-rich diet is mandatory.
Dogs who are sick also require a higher protein content in their diet, even if they are regular adult dogs with no extra activities taking up their day. However, if it’s a kidney-related disease, you’ll need to cut back on protein and make up for that through other nutrients. In this case, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to decide the ideal protein content for your dog.
Read More: You Should Be Cooking for Your Dog Too
Best Protein Sources for Your Dog
Many food sources are rich in protein. However, not all of them are quality protein sources that can provide complete nutrition to your dog. Here are the top 5 high-quality protein sources that your dog needs.
Whole eggs are easily digestible and have a very high protein content, making them an excellent addition to your dog’s meal. You’ll often find them in commercial dog foods, thanks to their nutritional benefits and affordability.
Certain fish like salmon and ocean fish are excellent protein sources for dogs. It’s even more beneficial for dogs with highly sensitive or dry skin. Along with protein, fishes are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and oils, which nourish the body and help dogs maintain a shiny, healthy coat with less shedding.
The only problem is that sometimes fish can be high in toxins. That’s why it’s recommended that you do not make fish your dog’s primary source of protein.
Chicken & Turkey
Chicken and turkey are excellent protein sources for dogs, easy to digest, and widely available, making them an affordable option. The only problem is that some dogs can develop an allergy to chicken.
Ducks are also a good source of protein both for adult dogs as well as puppies. So if you’ve just adopted a new puppy, you can try giving it duck meat. Also, remember to introduce adequate primary protein sources in its first year to prevent the risk of an allergy in the later years.
Beef is also a rich source of protein, making it suitable for your dog. It’s also easy to digest for canines, making it a popular protein source among dog owners. However, beef can be a little expensive compared to the other options available, which might not be feasible for everyone.
Peas & Lentils
Meat isn’t the only source of protein for your dog. There are quite a few plant-based protein sources that you can introduce to its diet in moderation to supplement your pup’s daily protein intake.
Peas and lentils are rich protein sources containing all the essential amino acids that a dog needs for a healthy body. They are also easily digestible and are super affordable, making them a perfect plant-based source of protein.
Protein Sources for Dogs Prone to Developing Allergies
Certain breeds of dogs like Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, and Boxers are more prone to developing allergies than others. These dogs can develop severely uncomfortable allergic symptoms even from a minor trigger, making planning a meal extra challenging.
Generally, protein sources like chicken, beef, soy, eggs, wheat, and dairy products are the most common allergens in dogs.
Although the list seems daunting, there are other sources of protein like fish, lamb, venison, and rabbit, which do not belong to the common group of allergens for dogs. These protein sources are also found in hypoallergenic and allergen-free commercial diets and ensure that your dog’s protein needs are fulfilled without triggering any allergy.
That’s why many dog parents opt for premium dog food which qualified nutritionists have designed for your dog with the right portion of each nutrient group.
However, if you still find your dog developing allergic symptoms and struggling with its meals, then it’s best to consult a veterinarian. They’ll use a trial and elimination method to determine which exact food item is triggering these allergies.
Poor Protein Sources That You Should Avoid
Not all protein sources are ideal for your dog, regardless of their protein content. Here are two sources of protein that your dog should avoid.
Meat by-products refer to the pieces that are left once the desirable flesh and organs are removed from a carcass. These include claws, beaks, horns, and feathers. Your dog can certainly eat these leftovers; they aren’t toxic for its health.
However, they do not add much value. These leftovers are not digestible for your dog, which means that most of them will simply pass through your dog’s body without releasing the protein content. It’ll only add to the amount of food your dog eats without adding any value. In this case, two things might happen:
- Your dog will end up overeating if you try to make up for the lost protein by increasing its meal size
- Your dog might face a deficiency in protein which can lead to severe diseases later.
Neither of the two situations above is desirable. That’s why you should definitely avoid introducing meat by-products in your dog’s meal.
Wheat & Corn
Corn and wheat are rich in protein, but again, your dog cannot digest it well, and a significant part of the protein simply passes through its body unused. Although you can feed wheat and corn to your dog in moderation, these shouldn’t be the primary source of protein.
You’ll also find many low-quality commercial dog food brands that use a lot of corn and wheat in their recipes. By doing so, they technically meet protein requirements, but this protein is of no real value. That’s why you’ve to be extra cautious when you buy dog food.
You need to learn to read the food labels. Adequate protein sources aren’t enough. You need to see which of these sources your dog can digest without triggering its allergies before choosing a brand.
Dogs are omnivores, and they need adequate protein intake for leading a healthy life. However, it’s also essential that you don’t go overboard with proteins. Excess protein can cause kidney damage, increase toxin levels in its body, and cause other conditions like hyperkalemia and unhealthy weight gain.
A balanced diet is all you need to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Knowing how much protein does a dog need per day can help you plan your dog’s diet.
And as always, Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!
Love you guys,
P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.
This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.