Why is Protein Essential in a Dog’s Diet?



This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts. This was originally posted at WayCoolDogs

So, you may have heard that protein is good for dogs. But you might be wondering why this is so. If so, you have come to the right place. I will tell you what protein is and what its sources are, and why protein is essential in a dog’s diet. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this informative article on protein for dogs!

What is protein?

Before getting into the whys and wheres that dogs need protein in their diet, let me go ahead and discuss what protein is.

Protein is a macro-nutrient. All in all, there are three macro-nutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Macro-nutrients are responsible for providing calories and energy. Protein contains properties that are essential for building muscle mass and increasing energy. It is usually found in animal products but nuts and legumes contain protein as well.

When protein is consumed by dogs or people, the body breaks it down to help fuel muscle mass, which then eventually leads to metabolism. Additionally, it ensures you a stronger body and immune system.

Protein is good for both humans and animals. It serves as the building block for nutrition.

What are the sources of protein?

According to the USDA, the protein group includes seafood, poultry, beans, meat, eggs, nuts, beans, and seeds. Aside from protein from animal sources, there are many other sources of protein – whey, hemp, and soy.

When looking for protein sources for dogs, you should make sure that these foods are easily digestible. To make things easier for you, I will list down some of the best protein sources for your dogs:

  • EGGS: Eggs are a very good source of protein. When they are cooked, dogs can even receive more protein from eggs than meat.
  • FISH: Cooked fish gives your dog a huge amount of protein.
  • REAL MEAT: Obviously, as one of the most famous sources of protein, meat should be in your dog’s diet. It is a natural source of protein that dogs will love.
  • MEAL MEAT: Meat meal is real meat where both water and fat are removed. Because it is made of real meat, it also contains a huge amount of protein.
  • CHEESE: Cheese is a good and tasty source of protein for dogs. Downside is that it is quite fattening.
    Why do dogs need protein in their diet?

Unlike cats, dogs are classified as naturally omnivorous animals. This means that they can live on both plant and meat based foods. But this isn’t the healthiest way for them to live. Their diets should be balanced in order for dogs to be the healthiest they can be. But this is so they would survive.

And life is not just about surviving, but thriving as well. So in order to do that, they need an animal source of protein in their diet. That’s meat!

Dogs need meat! Dogs thrive on meat-based diets. But be careful, for too much of everything can be a bad thing. So make sure you are not giving your dog an all meat diet.

Without the suggested amount of protein in a dog’s diet, it could lead to numerous health problems: They won’t have enough energy, their coats will not be as healthy, and their immune system will be weaker. Proteins are very important when it comes to the growth and development of dogs. They are essential in the structural makeup and immune system of dogs. In addition, when eaten, they get burned as calories and then converted to fat afterwards.

The amino acids that dogs need are: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Dogs need these building blocks, called amino acids. They actually need 22 of those. Dogs are able to synthesize 12 of those amino acids. The remaining amino acids are then consumed naturally by the body. On the other hand, a deficiency in any of the amino acids can cause health problems.

How much protein can I feed my dog?

I bet you are wondering how much protein you should feed your dog? Well, here is the answer:

When dogs eat too much protein, it will be released in their urine. Other proteins will be converted to calories or fat, as mentioned above. This will cause dogs no harm. But be careful. If your dog has an underlying kidney problem, high protein diets are not entirely recommended. Consult your veterinarian beforehand to make sure it’s okay for your dog to eat a diet that is high in proteins.

Additionally, most pet food companies slightly exceed the minimum recommended protein requirements to ensure that dogs get adequate protein from their food.

But rumors going around the dog community saying that protein can cause kidney problems in dogs are not true. This myth presumably started because in the past, patients with kidney disease thought that the cure to their sickness was to be put on a low-protein diet.

But in this modern day, it has been discovered that we do not need to put dogs on a low-protein diet. Instead, make sure that the protein content of their foods is more digestible. Thus, low-nitrogen diets. Damaged kidney have a difficulty metabolizing nitrogen efficiently. That’s why these diet changes are introduced. Nitrogen can be harmful to a dog’s body (even humans) when given in high amounts.

Moreover, if your veterinarian suggests that you should change your dog’s protein intake, then you should lessen your pet’s diet. Otherwise, you can keep feeding your pet the way you do, as long as it is the right way.


As a conclusion, protein is actually really good for your dogs. It promotes the overall accurate nutrition of a dog and builds muscle mass and energy at the same time. To top that off, the myth about protein causing kidney problems is just what it is, A MYTH!

To be extra safe, check the ingredients that are in your dog’s food. This is for you to be knowledgeable about what your dog is eating and if it is digestible enough.

Lastly, unless your veterinarian has warned you that your dog can’t take high-protein foods, then you’re good to go. The question, “Why is Protein essential in a dog’s diet?” is important for your dog’s health and its palate for delicious foods!


About the Author:

“I’m a young woman with a true passion for animals. I has kept many pets over the years and has intimate knowledge of their needs both emotionally and physically. LoveablePawsAndClaws.com is one way to help me share the passion to my beloved friends around the world.”

Note: Images owned by author Lauren Peralta through Shutterstock.

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WayCoolDog posts originally appeared on WayCoolDogs and are re-posted with the permission of Nancy Houser of WayCoolDogs © 2009 – 2016 WayCoolDogs.com..