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How much protein is too much protein for dogs? Whether your furry best friend is a puppy, a full-fledged adult, or graying around the muzzle, protein intake is an important consideration when it comes to dog diet. It is a well-known nutritional guideline that performance dogs and senior dogs require a high level of protein in their diet, but is there a limit?
Below, the XDOG experts explore the specifics around curating the right protein-rich diet for your dog, including safety, benefits, and whether it is worth worrying about too much protein for dogs.
Yes. Protein is entirely safe for dogs. You may even be surprised to learn that there is no solid agreement amongst veterinarians and canine nutritionists as to what constitutes “too much protein” for dogs or how to measure it.
Where experts do agree is on monitoring and regulating a dog’s diet, including protein intake. It is always wise to consult with your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s menu.
Protein is a critical macronutrient in a dog’s diet. Protein and its amino acids build and maintain muscle and other canine tissues and systems, including:
High-protein diets are ideal for:
Puppies need the extra protein to promote healthy growth and development, whereas older dogs need to keep deteriorating muscles strong and healthy because they can’t digest the protein as well. However, even normal adult dogs who spend a lot of their time around the house will need plenty of protein for health and vitality.
Performance dogs are in a class of their own and benefit significantly from an increased protein intake, regular exercise, and vitamin supplements. The combination keeps them strong, muscular, and healthy, and creatine products are particularly helpful for these performance enhancements. Learn how creatine can help your dog here; there is an impressive list of benefits for your performance dog with these supplements.
So, does anyone know how much protein is too much protein for dogs? The lack of agreement about quantity in the nutrition community does not detract from the most important factor within this discussion: it’s the quality of the protein that dog owners need to be measuring. Many pet food manufacturers use low-quality protein and fillers in dog food to save money, and pets are the ones that suffer for it.
High-quality protein is easily digestible and has high bioavailability (how well the body absorbs and uses the protein). Plants like soy and corn typically emit low-quality protein, which a canine’s protein-hungry body cannot utilize as effectively. However, XDOG’S True Beast range is a great example of high-quality proteins, which come primarily from beef, chicken, and fish.
Dogs need high-quality protein from an animal source or supplement, but many people still hesitate to bulk up their dog’s intake because they believe too much protein for dogs may cause kidney failure. This assumption is false; research has proven that a high-protein diet will not adversely affect your dog’s kidney function in any way.
The myth may have come about from a misunderstanding of the causal link—excess protein does not cause kidney issues in dogs. However, if your dog has a pre-existing kidney problem, a high-protein diet could aggravate this condition and require a limited diet. That’s why it is always important to consult with your vet regarding your dog’s diet and general health.
When a dog ingests protein, the body converts any excess to fat or flushes it as nitrogen in urine and feces. It’s a completely safe and natural process for dogs. However, that doesn’t mean that you can give your dog as much protein as you want, even though we use the words ‘too much protein’ for dogs loosely.
High-protein diets can cause issues if your dog doesn’t get enough exercise because of an increase in fat cells. Two common challenges of this imbalance include hyperactivity and obesity.
Too much protein without enough exercise to put it to good use may contribute to behavioral problems, like hyperactivity. Protein increases a dog’s energy stores, so exercise is vital to burn off all that excess in healthy ways.
Protein is also a calorie-dense macronutrient. Too much protein in your dog’s diet without the opportunity to burn off the calories may cause rapid weight gain or even obesity. It works the same way in humans.
Serotonin induces a good mood in both human and canine brains, with tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein, playing a critical role in the serotonin hormone’s production. However, tryptophan has a low bioavailability, so increasing protein intake is unlikely to increase serotonin production. Thankfully, it seems that this does not work in the other direction either—higher protein consumption will not decrease serotonin levels enough to put your dog in a bad mood.
Research has shown no definitive link between a protein-rich diet and aggression in dogs. As long as your dog is ingesting high-quality protein and enjoying regular exercise, they will thrive.
Common symptoms that dogs are not effectively processing protein are:
However, if dog owners combine optimal protein intake with regular exercise (running and using weighted vests for strength training), the dog will be strong and healthy.
At XDOG, we know that pet owners would do anything to keep their furry best friends happy and healthy. Whether you have a puppy, a performance dog, a senior citizen, or an All-American couch dog, a high-quality protein supplement is a great way to keep them healthy. Your dog can enjoy the protein-rich diet they crave with muscle-builder supplements by XDOG, a range supporting performance enhancement, lean muscle building, and strength training.
Stop worrying about too much protein for dogs, and be sure to check out our selection of vitamins and supplements today to keep your dog strong, healthy, and full of life.