Does More Protein Mean a Healthier Dog and Cat Food?
Is pet food high in protein better for your pet? The real scoop on pet food is that it must be balanced. While protein needs to be part of that balance, too much may not be best for your pet. It's crucial for pet parents to understand the importance of protein, while also knowing what other ingredients to look for in dog and cat foods.
Balanced Is Better
The first step in finding a dog or cat food that has a balance of protein and other healthy ingredients involves looking at your pet's age and lifestyle. At certain points in a pet's life, he may need more or less protein, but he always needs about fifty key nutrients. Many times one ingredient can have several nutrients; The danger comes when pet owners mistakenly go with a high protein food that doesn't provide the balance of nutrients that cats and dogs require.
Protein is the building block of all cellular material. Various pet food ingredients can deliver this nutrient. Cats and dogs can digest protein from more than just meat. Eggs, peas, whole grain oats, whole grain corn, corn gluten, whole grain wheat, and whole grain sorghum are all non-meat ingredients that have protein. The dangers of a high protein cat food (or high protein dog food) may include too much or too little of other key nutrients that promote functions like healthy joints, tissues, and metabolism. Pet foods that complement meats with other protein containing ingredients like corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, and wheat give your pet essential amino acids. Since amino acids serve as a building block for body proteins, like muscles, having high-quality protein sources is a win-win for you and your pet when it comes to food choices.
Think about the old food pyramid, or portion control plates for humans. While the nutritional requirements of dogs and cats are different than humans, they like us, rely on a proper balance of various nutrients to ensure they are getting everything they need to be, happy and healthy.
Too Much of a Good Thing
World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends the pet foods from companies that invest in scientific research, consult with veterinary nutritionists, and perform feeding trials to develop their products. Properly formulated pet foods are important for optimal digestion, energy levels, and coat and hair health. Be sure to check out pet food websites for detailed information about their food and the ingredients. Be wary of pet food brands that talk mainly about protein and scathe the other ingredients in pet food. Be careful when comparing labels between wet and dry foods. Many wet foods are actually higher protein than dry products. Although the protein content may look low, when the moisture is removed, the product may be a high protein wet cat or dog food. Don't be fooled with claims like high protein dry dog food or high protein wet cat food; look at the guaranteed analysis on the label to understand how much protein is in the food. With protein there can be too much of a good thing. Pet foods are required to have adequate amounts of protein; some go above optimal protein levels. Excessive protein consumption is unnecessary and for some pets with medical conditions, can actually be harmful. Too much of poor quality protein may cause digestive upsets. Hill's has a team of veterinarians and PhD nutritionists that work diligently to ensure our foods have the right balance of nutrients, including high-quality protein for your pet.
Too Little Protein
Certain life stages like puppies and kittens need more protein than adult dogs and cats. Products formulated for adults may not say low protein cat food (or low protein dog food), however, they may not meet the requred protein levels for growing pets. Too little protein can adversely impact growth and development at these pet life stages.
Perfect Amount of Protein
Pets come in different ages, shapes and sizes and have different needs, so there is no magic amount of protein that works for every cat or dog. Since all pets are different and have different needs, be sure to discuss what you're feeding your dog or cat with your veterinarian to ensure the food matches your pet's individual needs. Your veterinarian may recommend hydrolyzed protein dog or cat food if your pet has been diagnosed with food allergies. These special pet foods have been formulated with the right amount of protein for your pets. By feeding your pet with a balanced meal that provides the perfect amount of protein you can help them live a healthy and active lifestyle.
Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.