Protein For Pups

When I decided to start making my own dog foods and treats, I wanted to make sure that my dogs, and all the rescue dogs, would be getting the proper nutrition. I did a great deal of research, and spoke with my Veterinarian about each of my dog’s individual needs. 

Before you begin a homemade diet for your dog consult with your Veterinarian to make sure your pup is getting the basic nutritional needs. There are some general food guidelines for dogs that you may be familiar with: serving sizes will depend on your pup’s weight, size and activity level. 

General Nutritional Needs

  • 40% Protein – animal meat, seafood, eggs or dairy
  • 10% Carbohydrates – grains and beans
  • 50% Vegetables
  • Fat – from oil or meat
  • Calcium – crushed or powdered egg shells; a supplement
  • Fatty acids – cooked egg yolks, oatmeal, plant oils and other foods

Today, I’d like to discuss the nutritional element of protein; Protein is an important component in your dog’s food. Dogs need protein to form new skin cells, build muscle tissue, and even grow hair. Protein provides energy and keeps your pup’s immune system strong. Although, not all proteins are the same. The best protein sources for your dog are animal-based proteins like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. This includes things like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, salmon, tuna, and more. In terms of the biological value of proteins for dogs, the order is: egg whites, muscle meats, organ meats and fish. 

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are important to the overall health of our furry friends. Unlike fat, and other nutrients, the body can’t store protein. In order for your dog to get the proper amount of protein, it has to be supplied in the daily diet. Depending on your pet’s age and activity level, protein needs will vary. 


Protein is the most important nutrient in a healthy and balanced diet for your pup. Real lean meats are a great source of low-fat, and high-quality protein that dogs love! Some of the most common sources of protein for your dog are:

  • Fish – fish is a healthy source of protein for dogs, and has great benefits for dogs with sensitive or dry skin. The oils and omega fatty acids found in fish nourish and moisturize the skin, preventing flaking and even shedding.
  • Omega-3 oils like fish oils can minimize inflammation and help protect against arthritis, heart disease or even cancer. You can cook your pup up some delicious salmon, whitefish, haddock, cod, trout, tuna, and tilapia. They will LOVE it!
  • Whitefish happens to be a very tasty source of lean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for your dog. These amino acids help your pup convert fat into the energy they need to burning calories. White fish also contains calcium, phosphorous and B-complex vitamins.
  • Chicken – is another great protein source for your pup. Poultry is one of the most natural, healthiest, and easily digested sources of protein you can feed your dog. Some of the most common sources of poultry include chicken, turkey, and duck. Chicken breast specifically, is a lean protein. (boneless, skinless) It contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. This promotes good health by boosting their immune system and can also help with weight loss. 

*One issue I learned about recently is that chicken is one of the more common allergies that dogs can have, mostly because of its prevalence in dog foods. So, in order to reduce the chances of your dog developing a chicken allergy, make sure to change up the main protein source in your pet’s food every few months.

    • Turkey – is rich in nutrients like protein, riboflavin, and phosphorus. It can be an essential part of a homemade dog food diet.
    • Beef – is a healthy source of protein and is easily digestible. Other meats such as lamb, sheep, venison, and bison are also quality sources of protein, though they might be a little more expensive. Lean ground beef (or hamburger meat) is rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins. It is also an excellent diet food for your pup. 
    • Eggs – win for protein quality. They are very digestible and one of the best protein sources for dogs. They are also relatively cheap considering their concentrated goodness. 

    Dogs need protein as they thrive on meat based diets. Without the suggested amount of protein in a dog’s diet, it could lead to numerous health problems. They will not have enough energy, their coat will not be healthy, and their immune system will be weak. Proteins are very important when it comes to the growth and development of your pet, they are essential in their structural makeup and immune system. Your dog’s diets should be balanced in order for him/her to be the healthiest they can be!

    Again I want to conclude by stressing the importance of ALWAYS consulting your own Veterinarian.

    Sources and further reading:

    http://m.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_focusing_on_protein_in_the_diet  

    http://m.onlynaturalpet.com/holistic-healthcare-library/allergies/109/the-role-of-protein-in-good-nutrition.aspx 

    http://www.petguide.com/health/dog/why-is-protein-essential-in-a-dogs-diet/ 

    http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/protein-dogs-diet1.htm 

    http://m.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=459 

    http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=702