My Happy Pooch
    Dog looking at good looking steak.

    Is High Protein for Dogs Safe

    Choosing the best diet for your dog can be very confusing. Every dog food commercial on TV claims to have all the ingredients to keep your dog healthy and happy.

    Many brands take pride in the fact that their dog food contains a high level of protein. They claim that high protein for dogs is necessary to quench his basic instinctual needs for meat that his ancestors had in the wild.

    Pet food companies use a variety of marketing tactics that leave the impression that dogs are all out carnivores and need to live on a diet that contains a high portion of meat. But, this isn’t the case. Dogs are much healthier on a diet consisting of a balance between fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

    A diet rich in protein isn’t a standard requirement and in fact, can be harmful to those dogs experiencing a medical complaint.

    Carnivores vs. Omnivores

    All mammals fall into one of three categories:

    • Herbivores: These are animals who survive by eating plants. Some examples of herbivores are sheep, rabbits, goats, and giraffes.
    • Carnivores: Carnivores are flesh eaters. They eat meat as the main part of their diet. Some examples of carnivores are wolves, lions, tigers, and some bears.
    • Omnivores: These are animals who are supplied nutrients and energy from both plants and meat. Examples of omnivores are pigs, Koala’s , beavers, humans, and chimpanzees.

    Today’s dog is a kind of hybrid. A true carnivore can’t break down and digest a plant based diet. Dogs have the ability to break down and digest both meat and plant for nutrients.

    Some experts will say that a dog is a carnivore, but I’d like to make available a great article by Dr. Roger Welton. Dr. Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM.

    He states that dogs are omnivores and should be fed as such.

    What is Protein?

    Concept of food for pets. Food falling in pet's bowl

    Proteins are essential building blocks and critical to let the body function in the normal way. But, if a dog eats a protein-rich diet, too much can get into the system and it can’t be stored, nor can it be utilized. It is able to leave the body via urine and broken down by the kidneys. So, the type and quality of protein ingested is a lot more important than just getting a lot in the daily diet. Eating food with high-quality protein is desired because the body is more able to absorb it and put it to use.

    In addition to getting a high amount of protein from the meats, a dog will also get several other types of nutrients that can be ingested in high volume.

    So, for instance, a meat rich diet can make it more complex to control the ratio of phosphorus and calcium. A poor balance of these nutrients can result in damage to the kidneys and slow bone growth.

    When preparing a diet with dog food high in protein make sure to complement it with carbohydrates and fat, which should help to avoid issues with eating an excessive amount of protein.

    Is High Protein for Dogs Bad?

    Protein is rich in calories, which can result in a noticeable gain in weight if a major part of the dietary intake. About 45-50 percent of the dogs in the United States are reported to be obese or overweight. 

    For this reason, pet owners need to be more mindful of the food and portion sizes put down. Plus, excessive protein in the diet will make it more difficult for the dog to cope with health issues like liver or kidney disease.

    A preferred diet plan is well-balanced and includes a formula that is based on a dog’s age, size, and lifestyle.

    For instance, a typical family pet will need a much less demanding diet compared to a working farm dog. Not all dogs should be restricted to the same type of diet plan. 

    Plus, puppies will need a nutrient-rich diet that contains more protein while still growing through the first 6 months or so.

    What Makes a Good Protein?

    foods that contain protein

    When it comes to protein quality, in addition to completeness, a good protein is one that can be broken down by your dog’s body.

    Animal muscle tissue tends to be a highly digestible source of protein, but if you want to use plant or insect sources of protein (yes, it’s coming to market!) you’ll need to do extra research to make sure your pooch is getting everything he or she needs to thrive.


    Our four-legged friends don’t necessarily need carbohydrates, but their bodies use glucose just like ours do. Dogs on carbohydrate-free diets still metabolize glucose, so it seems their bodies need it regardless of the source

    Their bodies even seem to prefer it as an energy source: the more carbohydrates they eat, the more glucose their bodies use.

    Carbohydrate quality means roughly the same thing for dogs as it does for humans, with factors such as glycemic index and digestibility coming into play.

    Too many hard-to-digest carbohydrates such as fiber can hinder nutrient absorption even though fiber is important for stool health. One source of fiber that does not affect nutrition absorption is beet pulp, so if you see beet pulp listed as an ingredient, it’s a good thing!

    In summary, when it comes to carbs you’ll want to look for whole grains, and you’ll want to strike a balance. The carbs shouldn’t be so rough that they inhibit nutrient absorption, but they also shouldn’t be so simple that they are essentially straight sugar.


    The concept of good fats and bad fats does not apply to dogs, who naturally have higher levels of good cholesterol than we do. Dogs are also relatively unaffected by issues like high cholesterol levels.

    This is great news since dogs require fats in their diets just like humans do.

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    About the AuthorAngela Miller

    Hello, my name is Angela Miller. Several years ago, I rescued a little seven-year-old Bichon Frise. I started looking into dog nutrition so I could keep my little love bug for as long as I possibly could. I love my dog too much to feed him unhealthy food. I hope some of the things I've learned along the way will help you and your dog.

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