What are sources of complete protein?
Complete proteins are meat, fish, eggs and whole milk. They contain all 10 essential amino acids. Protein is one of the eight building blocks required for a complete diet.
Why is protein important?
Protein consists of amino acids which are essential for health. Amino acids also provide carbon chains which produce glucose, providing the dog with energy.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy balanced diet. A good quality dog food will include at least two quality sources of animal protein within the first few listed ingredients eg chicken, beef, duck or salmon.
Protein is required for healthy muscle development, for the growth of cartilage and connective tissue.
It is also needed for healthy skin, growth and repair of skin cells, a healthy coat and nails.
Protein also helps to support the immune system, and is needed to produce hormones.
Protein can be used to produce energy when a quicker fuel source - carbohydrate or fat - is not available.
What is incomplete protein?
Incomplete protein comes from grains, corn, soybeans and wheat. It should not be the primary source of protein in a dog's diet, as it doesn't contain the essential amino acids.
How much protein does a dog need?
An adult dog on a maintenance diet requires a minimum of 18% of good quality protein in their diet.
This is the percentage that most commercial foods will include - however, as Australia does not require comprehensive labelling of pet food, the percentage may not be shown.
Remember that even if a protein percentage is shown, incomplete proteins such as corn, soy and grains can be included in that percentage.
Can a dog have too much protein?
Yes, they can, but it isn't a health problem unless the dog is receiving far too much, and is storing the excess as fat.
What happens if a dog lacks protein?
Dogs who don't receive enough protein in their diet will experience muscle loss, weight loss, poor digestion and weakness. Ultimately this will lead to serious health issues.
Do dogs need protein every day?
In theory, no, because you can balance your dogs diet over the course of a few days. Having said that, most owners would feed protein on a daily basis, unless following a raw feeding regime where they include gorge meals and fast their dog the following day.
What about treats? Should I give high protein treats?
Like treats for humans, they should be fed in moderation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your dog healthy dog treats such as a piece of jerky or a bully stick from time to time - in fact, it has lots of benefits.
Overfeeding treats can lead to weight gain though, so if you want to offer treats on a daily basis, keep the portions small and mix it up between the different proteins.