The Dangers of High Protein Dog Foods

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Steward.

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One of the biggest misconceptions about dogs is that they are carnivores and should be fed a very high protein diet. While they will quite happily eat virtually any meat that they come across, our canine companions are actually omnivores, which means that they can derive enough nutrition to survive from a range of sources, including meat, fish, vegetables, herbs, grains and more.

Many owners will agree that their furriest family member is quite happy to chow down on virtually anything that is put under his nose – something whether it is edible or not!

Protein is an important part of your dog’s nutrition, playing many roles in his health and well-being. Protein enables your furbaby to build muscle, bone, and body mass as well as supporting cell and nerve function and helping him to heal when he is sick or suffers an injury. However, too much protein can actually be bad for his health.

Why are high levels of protein in my dog’s food dangerous?

One of the main problems with too much protein in your dog’s diet is that it can quickly cause him to put on weight. This is because protein is a calorie-dense nutrient. If your dog is regularly eating more calories than he is burning off, weight gain is unavoidable, and while a few extra pounds may not be cause for concern, significant weight gain really is.

For example, pets who are classed as overweight or obese have been shown to be more likely to develop serious health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and even some types of cancer. Unless your canine pal does excessive amounts of exercise on a daily basis, a high-protein diet is probably unnecessary.

Another issue with excess protein is how your pet’s body deals with it. Since it cannot utilize all of the protein at one time, nor can it store it for use later on, the excess protein is filtered out of the body via the kidneys. However, it isn’t just protein that these meats contain, there are other nutrients present too, and high levels of these can cause problems for your pet including kidney damage.

How much protein is too much?

While there are many dog foods that are marketed specifically as being high in protein, others may appear to be very broad-based products but still actually contain dangerous amounts. For this reason, it is important to check dog food labels carefully so that you can be sure you pick a brand that has moderate protein levels. For your information:

  • Food with more than 30% protein is considered high
  • Food containing between 21% – 29% are considered moderate
  • Food with less than 20% protein is low and is usually only available by prescription for those dogs who have medical issues that dictate that they need a particularly low-protein diet.

Getting your dog’s nutrition right is essential if he is to enjoy a long, healthy, and active life. If you aren’t sure which is the best food to feed your dog, or if you have further questions about high protein diets, please do not hesitate to seek the advice of our friendly veterinary team today at 951-676-4690.