This post was most recently updated on January 9th, 2020
A growing puppy requires a higher protein intake now than any other period of its dog life. It’s an essential substance that supplies the required nutrition for muscle development. Since a pup’s body ‘inflates’ rapidly, especially for large breeds, it’s important that we meet the necessary protein level. Aside from that, protein also helps maintain better coat health. This is why the best high protein dog food is a must, not to mention the pair of nutritionally-balanced ingredients.
|HIGH-PROTEIN FOOD||PRODUCT NAME||EXPERT |
|Eagle Pack Dry |
|Nutro Wholesome |
Essentials Puppy Food
A high protein diet is actually in line with the diet of dog’s ancestors who lived in the wild. They hunt animals for food, thus a high intake of animal meat rich in protein. But as canines get domesticated, their protein requirement changes over time. There are some precautions we have to keep in mind before feeding their pooches a high-protein diet.
Are dogs really carnivores?
Judging from its ancestors’ diet and dogs’ close kinship to wolves and other wild canines, it’s safe to say that they are naturally carnivores. Still, it’s important to note that dogs also have the ability to digest carbohydrates, a substance that’s usually found on plant food. With this, dogs can be said as omnivores after bring domesticated and introduced to human-prepared meals.
But if we are to analyze the anatomy of dogs, it’s surprising to know that their bodies developed consistently to their initial carnivore nature. They have large teeth made to chop chunks of meat and a large tummy for fewer but larger meals.
Also, dogs have stronger stomach acid intended for faster digestion and absorption of protein. This is why the best high protein puppy food makes an excellent part of a young dog’s diet.
The need for protein
Dogs don’t just need protein, they need complete protein. Like us, humans, they need 22 amino acids to support muscle growth. As the building blocks of protein, half of these amino acids are actually produced inside your pup’s body. However, the other half needs to be satisfied through food consumption. And more often, these amino acids can be found only on meat items. The reason why they need the best high protein dog food.
Aside from helping their bodies recover from the wear and tear of daily activities, protein also aids cell production which is directly related to growth. Protein is also responsible for the proper production of certain hormones that regulate the dog’s energy levels.
It’s a fact that canines need protein as a main component of their food. However, this need is more pressing for puppies.
With their little bodies, why is this so? Again, puppies are typically energetic, paired it with their rapidly growing bodies, protein is an indispensable food component.
Protein also strengthens the immune system among other important bodily functions. So contrary to common beliefs, the best high protein dog foodisn’t just about building muscles.
Benefits of a high-protein diet
Getting the right amount of protein is as much important as ingesting the right concentration of vitamins and minerals. Although there are some concerns about too much protein (which we will discuss later on), it shouldn’t be a problem given proper emphasis to balance.
It’s important to know that, in order to reap protein benefits, you should also balance other components. The best high protein dog food without sufficient vitamins and minerals would be a dysfunctional option.
If you do it right, the right balance of high protein and other nutrients should give your puppy the following benefits:
➕ Stronger and leaner muscles
➕ More energy
➕ Better immune system
➕ Excellent organ function
➕ Healthy skin and coat
These are just some of the sweet advantages of meeting the protein requirements of your little pooch.
Do all breeds need a high-protein diet?
Remember: one size doesn’t fit all. It’s easy to think that since all puppies are growing, they need the same protein consistency as any other breed. It’s important to note here that large breeds have a different protein requirement with that of small and medium dogs.
Large breed puppies shouldn’t grow too fast. As much as they need enough protein for their muscles, it’s not wise to overdose them with it.
Overgrowth can result in a host of complications, skeletal and organ issues to name a few.
Generally, puppies need more protein than their adult versions – the reason why you need to get the best high protein puppy food. The exact amount should depend on the type of breed and the recommendations of the veterinarian.
Also, it’s important to consider the activity level of your pup. Is he a couch potato? A ball of energy? The more active the doggo gets, the higher the protein he should take.
I also like to point out here that you should know the physical conditions of your puppy before feeding him a new type of food. If your pooch has an underlying kidney or liver issue, you should seek the clearance of a veterinarian first even if you have the best high protein dog food.
The label rules
Most puppy and dog food manufacturers would claim to have met the standards of Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO. This association ensures that pet food manufacturers meet their standards so they can label it as “nutritionally balanced”.
Aside from the ingredients, AAFCO also takes a close look at the packaging of the pet food. There are words that manufacturers can’t use as well as how large each label should be. All of these are geared to prevent false advertising.
To make this simple, there are five food label rules you should know. Here’s each one discussed:
The 100% rule
When you see a puppy food saying it’s 100% pure, it should only have one ingredient aside from water. If it says it’s 100% venison meat, it should only be made of venison and water – nothing else. But for many manufacturers, meeting this rule is a bit of a challenge. This is why AAFCO crafted another rule to label more products as the best high protein dog food.
The 95% rule
On this one, the pet food should contain at least 95% animal ingredients. This is a super-high protein food which is actually very expensive to make and market. So to allow more leeway, the next rule was made.
The 25% rule
Puppy food that falls under this rule is often called “Dinner” or “Entrée”. Some call it “Formula” or “Recipe” food since the main meat ingredient only comprises 25% of the product. However, take note that this rule doesn’t take into account the water content of the ingredients. Still, this is the best high protein puppy food.
The 3% rule
The AAFCO has been very considerate with manufacturers so they devised the 3% rule. Since the first three conditions are quite expensive to adhere to, the 3% rule is more affordable. It should contain at least 3% of the ingredient highlighted in the packaging but shouldn’t be mentioned in the name of the product.
The Flavor rule
Lastly, AAFCO came up with the Flavor rule. It allows manufacturers to highlight the flavor without necessarily using it as a main ingredient. This can get tricky so you have to read the print. If the food contains beef flavor, the AAFCO will clear it regardless if it came from actual beef or not.
So why do you need to learn all these technicalities? Because the indications on the packaging will dictate how much protein your puppy gets. Anything below the 25% rule is a no-go if you’re into complete protein. The safest bet is 25% since 95% and 100% could be too high for your puppy.
Best high protein puppy food options
Eagle Pack Dry Puppy Food
For large breed puppies, this Eagle Pack Dry Puppy Food is an excellent choice. Its main ingredients are real lamb, chicken, and fish for a total of 23% crude protein. This also has the right balance of Omega fatty acids and calcium which is crucial for healthy skeletal growth.
The Eagle Pack puppy food is free of wheat, corn, meat by-products, and artificial substances. Instead, this is infused with the right carb sources, DHA, and fortified vitamins that boost the immune system. Some of these are Vitamins C, D3, A, and B-Complex. It also has live cultures from dried Lactobacillus casei ingredients.
The manufacturer of this best high protein dog food has proven its prowess of providing pet nutrition for more than 25 years. From domesticated pooches up to Alaskan sled racers, they’ve fed them all.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Food
For small and medium-sized puppies, the Nutro Wholesome Puppy Food will be an excellent protein powerhouse. This has farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient together with sweet potato and brown rice.
Overall, this has Omega fatty acids and calcium that support bone growth as well as a healthier coat. The best part is that all ingredients are organic and non-GMO. This will give your puppy a balanced nutrition as well as 22% protein content.
This can be fed to puppies until they reach one year of age. Aside from being delicious, this food is also packed with fish oil, amino acids, Vitamins A, B, C, and D. And with tons of veggies infused on this kibble, your puppy will have the best nutrition he’s ever had during his early life.
Also, the kibble has the right size for easy munching. Although Nutro isn’t as commercialized as other brands, you can have peace of mind that this is the best high protein dog food.
High-protein food buying guide
A vet’s advice is always the best for your puppy, but if you want a quick guide, here’s a quick rundown of things you should look for the best high protein puppy food:
Check the protein level
For puppies, experts recommend that they should be fed an average of 22% protein for their meals. It can range from 20-30% protein depending on the breed and needs of your pet.
Check the protein source
Always purchase the best high protein dog foodmade from actual meat cuts. As much as possible, avoid food with meat by-products and fillers. Although this still has protein, it’s not the healthiest option. Some dogs find it hard to digest by-products.
Like what I said earlier, it’s not just about the protein content. Your puppy’s food should also contain the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Puppies need Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, DHA, calcium, and other substances to grow as healthy adult dogs. You can find it on the best high protein dog food.
Watch out for excessive protein
High protein is fine as long as it’s being used by your puppy’s body. If there’s a surplus, you should cut the dose. Remember that the excess will be flushed out through the urinary system. If the excessive protein is ingested for a long period, it will tax the kidney. This can lead to serious health conditions.
Protein is a calorie dense substance. So the higher the protein gets, the more calories your puppy takes. If you don’t control it, this can lead to obesity. This is the reason why considering your pet’s activity level, age, and breed are an important part of feeding. You need to ensure that the protein level matches the actual requirement. It’s not just about getting the best high protein dog food.
A puppy that lies around most of the day and a puppy that runs all the time shouldn’t be fed with the same food. Also, a Labrador shouldn’t be fed with the same meal as a Maltese. Why? Because they have different growth rates.
Large breeds aren’t supposed to ingest extremely high protein content. The overgrowth will tax their joints and there’s a chance that the skeletal system will be malformed. This exposes the puppy on early development of arthritis.
If you want to give your dog high protein meals, always invest in well-researched and vet-recommended products.
The best high protein dog food shouldn’t just be packed with amino acids. It should also contain significant vitamins and minerals that aid the overall wellness of your puppy.