Dog Food: Is there enough protein in your dog’s diet?

Dogs love to eat meat. We don’t have to convince them to eat their protein but, unless you have taught your dog how to open your refrigerator door, he may not be getting all the protein he needs from his diet.

Protein is the building block of our dog’s body – and our own. In fact, proteins account for 20% of our body weight. Inadequate dietary protein is a form of malnutrition and can lead to muscle loss, weakness, muscular-skeletal problems, hair loss, and if severe enough, organ failure.

How much protein does your dog need to be healthy?

In 2006, the National Academies of Science published a report on the nutritional guidelines for dogs and cats. According to these veterinary researchers a normal adult dog requires 0.75 – 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to maintain his health.  A dog weighing 30 lbs needs approximately 30 grams of protein every day.

If you cook homemade food for your dog, then it’s pretty easy to figure out how much protein you are feeding your dog – just read the labels on the meat, eggs, or dairy products you use as protein sources.   But, what if you feed kibble or canned dog food? Generally, dog kibble manufacturers only report the amount of protein as a minimum percentage. It’s easy to convert the percentage to grams: multiply the % protein on the bag or can by the weight of your dog’s daily diet. So, for example, if you feed your dog 1 lb (454-grams) of kibble every day and the food contains 12% protein then the your dog eats 54 grams of protein every day.

 The formula

No one likes a word problem, so here’s the formula:

(protein percent) x (weight in grams) = grams of protein

0.12 x 454g = 54 grams of protein

We are what we eat, and so are our dogs. Making sure they eat adequate amounts of protein every day is a good first step to living long happy doggy lives.  The NAS report is available to the public here.

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