How much protein does my dog need?

There are so many choices now of what to feed your dog and in regard to protein content they can vary hugely! So, how much protein is right for your dog?

This does depend on several different factors, including the life stage of your dog – are they a puppy, adult or senior? Is your dog extremely active or working? Is your dog a pregnant or lactating mother? What breed is your dog?

But to start at the start…

A complete food means that the food will provide all the nutrition your dog needs without needing to feed any other foods. There are minimum recommendations in place for complete diets to maintain health. For a puppy up to 14 weeks of age 25%* is the minimum recommended protein. This reduces to 20%* over 14 weeks of age. An adult dog’s protein requirement then drops again to 18%*.  Pregnant or lactating mother dogs need a minimum of 25%* protein, the same as their puppies.

As many foods on the market now contain higher protein than this – up to 40%* these minimum levels are being blown away! Especially with the trend for “all life stage” and “ancestral” type foods. However, some diets with high protein levels can be too much for some dogs and cause digestive issues. This is because even highly digestible protein sources in the food are not completely digestible by the dog. This means, the higher the protein, the higher the indigestible protein portion of the diet also becomes. Which can, in some dogs, cause less than ideal toilet situations!

For many dogs with a tendency to do better with protein levels on the lower side, a range of 18%* to 25* is widely accepted for adults. For puppies these protein levels would be up to approximately 30%*. Some dogs thrive on a higher protein diet. However, for those who don’t reducing the dietary protein back down to the lower end of the scale is preferential to maintain good health.

If your dog’s digestion is not ideal on a food containing high protein, then it is worth trying one with a lower protein content. If you need any help with this please get in touch!

*Protein percentages are based on a 100g dry matter food. As different food types contain different quantities of water. For example dry kibble to wet pouches. Protein is calculated this way to make it a stable comparison.

If you need a hand with these calculations get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help!