What you eat affects more than just your weight. It impacts everything from your blood sugar levels to your cholesterol, and can either help boost or weaken your immune system. The same is true for your four-legged friend. As challenging as it is for humans to eat healthy, you can imagine how difficult it is for your pet.
Proper dog nutrition is vital to your active pup’s physical and mental health. Your dog relies on you to provide him with the right dog food for his nutritional needs, which is only possible if you know what those needs are.
Protein for Active Dogs
Active dogs require diets rich in protein to help build muscle and support energy levels. “Lean protein in a diet helps a dog to build lean muscle and have a healthy coat quality,” says veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Liff of Pure Paws Veterinary Clinic in Brooklyn, New York. A high-protein diet for dogs can promote muscle strength and offers calories that can sustain the needs of active pets over longer periods of time. When dogs are active, they experience protein turnover. The body builds up and breaks down muscle protein during and after exercise, so dogs rely on dietary protein to meet their metabolic needs. Active dogs that do not receive adequate dietary protein can become fatigued and suffer from muscle loss.
High-protein dog food is typically lower in carbohydrates, which is great since dogs don’t require carbohydrates as a part of a healthy diet. According to the National Research Council, no carbs are considered essential for a healthy canine diet.
In the past, it was common for dried dog food brands to rely on manufactured recipes that were high in carbohydrates and low in protein. Protein could be added by combining dry dog food with soft dog food. Today, many dog food brands have beefed up recipes with higher percentages of meat. Just like humans, dogs require different protein levels based on their age and activity level. Active dogs can require 25% or higher protein from food, while veterinarians suggest high-protein dog food with about 28% protein for puppies.
The Benefits of a High-Protein Diet for Dogs
While high-protein dog food isn’t right for every dog, there are many benefits for feeding active dogs a food that’s rich in meat protein. The benefits of a high-protein diet for dogs include growth of lean muscle, improved skin and coat health, and a boost to the immune system. If your dog doesn’t have enough protein in his diet, his body can begin to break down protein in his body to get what he needs. That can lead to a decrease in muscle mass.
Older dogs can benefit from eating more protein too. Some older dogs have trouble metabolizing nutrients as they become older. Increased protein in their food can help boost their immune system, and help to prevent their muscles from wasting. As your dog ages, make sure you are feeding a quality high-protein dog food to maintain proper pet health.
Not all proteins are created equal. When shopping for high-protein pet food, search for recipes that feature good proteins. It’s not just the percentage of protein that matters, but the source as well. Plant proteins, like those that come from peas and lentils, aren’t as easily digested by dogs as animal protein. Check the ingredients of your pet food to make sure your pup is getting the nutrients he needs for his active lifestyle.