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How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

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How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  sallyandtilly on 9/5/2011, 7:43 pm

I am just full of questions today. So how about it? How high is too high? I am switching Tilly to grain free right now and it is 38% protein. Is this a bad move? It seems all the grain free foods are higher in protein except Now for seniors.
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  MandyPug on 9/5/2011, 8:15 pm

Ask three different people and you'll get three different answers.

I haven't seen a huge issue with the higher protein diets. A raw diet if taken at a dry matter basis would likely be around 40%+ protein.

I do tend to stick dogs on Acana over Orijen (32% protein vs. 38%) just because some dogs get soft poops from the Orijen at first and i know clients just wouldn't want to bother with that. Plus it's cheaper. But that's the extent of why i recommend one over the other.

Now! foods are all below 30% protein, Petcurean's only formula above 30% protein is the Endurance formula. So if you're concerned about protein levels, they're the company to go with.
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  northernwitch on 9/5/2011, 8:30 pm

I tend to feed high protein food and always have. Even when I feed kibble, I go with higher protein as a rule. I find some dogs don't make the transition form low protein to high well if it's done too fast. I prefer a protein level in kibble of higher than 30% and Bob was on a kibble at 42% and really did well on it. In fact, I'm convinced the only reason the geriatric wasting wasn't any worse was due to his high protein food.

Vets tend to freak out about high protein food and much has been said about it causing kidney issues in dogs, but there doesn't seem to be much proof of that. I find that anytime a dog has off kidney values, vets always recommend lower protein food. I've often found that if a dog has off values and are on kibble, I switch to canned and the values normalize. Unless there are pre-existing kidney issues.

I believe that the bioavailability of the protein is the key issue.


Last edited by northernwitch on 9/5/2011, 8:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  northernwitch on 9/5/2011, 8:38 pm

Here's a really good article on choosing a dog food for your dog:

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/8_7/features/15728-1.html
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  northernwitch on 9/5/2011, 8:39 pm

Is too much protein
harmful?



Old wives
tales about dry dog foods high in protein causing kidney disease run rampant
both on and off the internet and many people deprive their dogs of what they
crave most for fear of damaging their health.



Unfortunately
the whole protein thing is not easily explained in just a few sentences, so
bear with me if I ramble on for a while. I'll try to keep it as simple and
straightforward as possible without going too much into scientific terms.



First of
all, it is important that we understand that protein isn't only a nutrient -
the amino acids it is made up of (think lego bricks forming a bigger structure)
also serve as building blocks for body tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones,
antibodies and so on - roughly half of the dry body mass of a dog consists of
protein. Knowing this it is easy to understand that growing puppies need
protein to build above mentioned body tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones,
antibodies and both adults and growing puppies constantly need to replace and rebuild
these as well. The body recycles amino acids to some extent, but part of them
need to be replaced, just like you can't endlessly recycle paper or plastic.



Protein
is processed in the liver and any waste materials are filtered and excreted by
the kidneys. High quality protein does not generate large amounts of waste that
needs to be removed from the body, but poor quality protein which is difficult
to digest does and thus puts stress on the kidneys. The liver needs water to
process protein and as a medium to carry waste products to the kidneys, where
they are filtered out and most of the water is reabsorbed. The less
concentrated the waste products in this primary filtrate are, the easier it is
for the kidneys to do their filtering work - that's why it is unhealthy to feed
dry food only and so critical that dogs eating mostly or exclusively dry food
and dogs with liver disease get lots of extra water. Dogs who eat mostly canned
food or a home prepared diet automatically take in more moisture and do not
need to compensate as much by drinking. Contrary to what many people think and
pet food companies claim, dogs (and cats) do not know instinctively how much
extra water they have to drink to make up for what is lacking in the dry food.
This is why I so highly recommend that people always add water to the kibble at
feeding time.



Now that
we have the basics laid out, we can return to the protein in the food. Many
people cite old, outdated research that claims high protein percentages in the
food are harmful to dogs and do all kinds of damage, especially to the liver.
Fact is that these studies were conducted by feeding dogs foods that were made
from poor quality, hard to digest protein sources, such as soy, corn,
byproducts, blood meal and so on. From my explanation above, you now already
know that it is a question of protein quality that affects the kidneys.
Consider a wolf in the wild, who will eat relatively little else but meat if
they can help it - these animals don't get kidney diseases on the same scale
domestic dogs do. Their protein comes in the form of quality muscle and organ
meat though, not processed leftovers from human food processing. It also
contains around 70% moisture, whereas most commercial dry foods contain a
maximum of 10%. Dogs and other "dog like" animals (canids) evolved
eating a diet that consists primarily of meat, fat and bones, which they have
been eating for hundreds of thousands of years. Commercial foods, especially
dry food, has only been widely available for the past 60 years and we are still
learning how much damage certain aspects of it can do. Things have improved
quite a bit from hitting rock bottom in the 70s and 80s, but the majority of
pet food manufacturers still produce bad foods from poor quality ingredients.



Just to
digress for a moment, when I went to the grocery storeyesterday, I saw that
Purina Dog Chow was on sale, $8 for a 22 pound bag. That's a little over 36
cents per pound, including the profit the supermarket makes on it, cost for the
pretty, colorful packaging, advertising and all. On top of that, of course the
manufacturer (Nestle/Purina) wants to make a profit too. How much do you think
the food actually costs them just to make, without any profits? The answer is
pennies per pound, which also reflects the ingredient quality. If I calculate a
40% profit margin for each the supermarket and the manufacturer, it comes to
about 13 cents per pound. That's $260 per ton of food. Yikes.



Anyway,
back to the protein. Protein in dog food can come from either plant or meat
sources. Logically, plant sources are cheaper, especially considering that corn
gluten meal, the most popular, cheap protein booster, is a byproduct of the
human food processing industry, left over from making corn starch and corn
syrup. It has a crude protein content of 60%, so theoretically even if your
food recipe contained no other protein sources at all, you could make a food
with a 20% crude protein content by mixing it 1:2 with some cheap carb source.



It is
critical to stress that the term "crude protein" is used in the
guaranteed analysis, which means there is no statement whatsoever as to its
digestibility. Protein comes in many forms, even shoe leather, chicken feathers
or cow hooves have a fairly high crude protein content, but the body is only
able to extract and process very little of it, at the price of a lot of work
and stress to do so.



Due to
this labeling issue (only one of many, many others), the percentage of protein
in a food by itself doesn't say anything at all. Ingredient lists are not 100%
straightforward and truthful either, but at least you can somewhat gauge if
there's even any quality protein in there at all.



Just to
illustrate once again by example, let's say we have two foods which have the
same percentages of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber and moisture. Food A
contains 25% protein that is 60% digestible and food B contains 25% protein
that is 85% digestible. That means of food A the body is able to utilize 15% of
the protein content, but of food B 21.25%. Logically, to meet the body's
requirement of protein, you'd have to feed more of food A than of food B, and
the body of the dog eating food B will have to work less to utilize it.



I guess
in really simple terms you can compare it to the engine of a car and the type
of fuel you use. Just because you use high octane gas in a car that doesn't
need it, it's not going to do any damage, but if you use poor quality fuel,
regardless whether it is high or low octane, there will be buildup in the
engine that hampers performance and will eventually lead to damage.
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  Renee on 9/5/2011, 9:35 pm

I like high protein as well, but the trick, like Blanche's article says, is to figure out where the protein is coming from. No point in feeding 40% protein that comes from plants.

My go to kibble for fosters is Taste of the Wild.
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  northernwitch on 9/5/2011, 9:58 pm

I use Taste of the Wild primarily for fosters as well.

The Pacific Stream and Sierra Mountain formulas are only 25% protein.

Wetlands and High Prairie are 32%
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Re: How high is too high? Protein in dogfood

Post  sallyandtilly on 9/5/2011, 10:19 pm

Taste of the Wild is the only dogfood that Tilly ever refused to eat. This dog will eat absolutely anything, but she just didn't want any of the TOW. My daughter feeds TOW and is happy with it.

Thanks Blanche for all the info. That's quite a lot to digest.
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