Is your pet getting enough protein in their diet? Correctly managing the protein content in your furry companion's diet is important for their overall health, as there risks associated with giving them too much, or too little. In this post, let’s discuss how to easily manage and ensure that your pet is getting the full amount of protein needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Importance of Protein
Protein is necessary for many different functions in an animal's body. Not only does it contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, it promotes good organ and muscle health. In addition, protein:
- Helps keep pets’ coats healthy
- Provides energy for pets to use
- Aids proper digestion for good nutrient absorption
Protein provides amino acids, which can be broken down to essentially become the "building blocks" for new proteins in their body, and to provide energy to burn. While it doesn't provide as much energy as fats can, protein is still a very important source of energy for animals and humans alike.
A diet that’s high in protein can also benefit your pet if they need to lower their fat or carb intake, providing them with a healthy alternative.
There are many upsides to managing your pet’s protein intake well, but if those aren’t enough for the importance of the nutrient to be fully understood, we’ll cover the downsides to incorrectly managing the protein in your animal’s diet.
There can be some very serious consequences, including:
- Uncontrolled weight loss
- Chronic digestive issues
- Severe muscle deterioration
- Weakness or exhaustion
- Dangerous fluid build-up in the chest and abdomen
For most healthy pets, there is no real harm to giving your pet too much protein in the short term, as they will, in general, just digest the excess and break it down into waste matter. For animals with pre-existing health concerns, though, this is not the case.
If your pet has issues such as kidney or liver problems, the excess protein may worsen the issue at hand and make your pet feel ill. This can even lead to new chronic conditions developing in sick and aging pets, so owners must be vigilant. Keep a close eye on things like protein and caloric intake, no matter your pet’s current health status.
How Much Protein Does Your Pet Need?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has stated that the average adult dog needs about 4.5 grams of protein per 100 kcals of food and a pregnant dog requires slightly more at 5.63 grams per 100 kcals.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, they generally need more protein in their diet than the average adult dog. Adult cats typically need 6.5 grams per 100 kcals and 7.5 grams per 100 kcals if they are pregnant
Another way to gauge the correct amount of protein needed for your pet is to research their breed’s ideal weight, and simply ensure that the food provided meets the required ratio necessary for good health. Dogs require about 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal weight, whereas cats, being carnivores, require twice that.
Make sure that you calculate this amount using your pet’s ideal weight, not their current weight. Overweight or underweight dogs will not give good ratios for you to base their protein intake on, so it’s best to take the time to do some research before making any decisions regarding diet.
It is best to consult with your pet’s regular veterinarian for specific dietary recommendations and your pet’s caloric needs. The ideal amount of protein can depend on factors such as their age, pregnancy status, health concerns, breed, activity level, and other variables.
How to Ensure Proper Protein Intake
Most trusted dog and cat food brands have products that not only provide the necessary amount of protein for your pet, but often overshoot the required value by a fair bit! As we discussed before, giving your pet too much protein can be just as dangerous as giving them too little, in the long term.
Wet food can vary in protein levels, so it is recommended to feed cats or dogs select dry foods alongside it to supplement their diet and ensure they are getting all the proper nutrients. This is the simplest way to correctly manage your pet’s protein and caloric intake, but some people go above and beyond for their beloved animals.
Many people have opted to feed their pets a "raw" diet, as a diet that is prepared with fresh meat and ingredients is more natural and similar to what a dog or cat would eat in the wild. There are many upsides to doing so for your pet, but it requires even more research, care, and vigilance than the aforementioned method.
While there are many benefits to a raw diet, it is important to keep in mind that this requires you to provide your pet plenty of variety. Different meats and sources of protein also provide different vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for a balanced diet, and it is recommended that your family’s veterinarian be contacted to assist in the creation of a raw diet.
Reading the Label – What is Crude Protein?
One of the best things to do when researching which pet food is best for your furry friend is to read the labels. Any reputable dog or cat food brand should be transparent about the ingredients that are in the food and should include a guaranteed analysis on the packaging.
“Crude protein” is a percentage that comes from a chemical analysis that measures how much nitrogen is in the food. The amount detected is then used as an estimate the protein content.
Because nitrogen can come from other non-protein sources such as grains, this estimate isn’t always accurate, and it also doesn’t guarantee the quality of the protein. It’s good to look at, but it isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing your pet’s food.
While protein is essential to your pet’s diet, keep in mind that their nutrition doesn’t end there. By checking the ingredients and consulting an expert veterinarian, you will be able to figure out the right diet for your pets and get them on the path to their ideal weight and health.
Once you do find what works, keep at it, but make sure you continue to monitor your pets’ health. To ensure ongoing health for your pet, it’s always best to take them for regular medical examinations. With a little extra time and effort, you’ll have your pet on the path to better nutrition in no time.
Spring Naturals Puts Protein First
Spring Naturals understands how important protein is for your pet’s health, so our recipes start with premium protein from real, human-grade poultry or fish. A blend of nutrient-dense foods like spinach, carrots, and blueberries are added for a balanced meal full of the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your pet needs to thrive.
Check out our selection of naturally grain-free dog and cat foods at SpringNaturals.com. Your pet will love the taste, and you’ll love that there are absolutely no meat meals, fillers, or other misrepresented proteins in their meal.