Finding the best dog food for your beloved pet makes it essential for you to understand its overall nutrition content. Dogs, like humans, need a daily supply of essential nutrients to thrive and stay as healthy as possible. With that in mind, you must figure out which dog food in the market can give your dog the highest level of nutrition.
Check the label before buying, so you will get a clearer idea of its overall nutrition content. When checking the label, one thing you might see is crude protein. Once you see crude on the label, rest assured it does not necessarily mean the food is either vulgar or immature. Crude protein, as well as other nutrients with crude in them, like crude fiber and crude fat, indicates the specific amount of each nutrient present in the dog food. It does not talk about the quality.
Now the question is, how much crude protein should be in dog food? Everyone knows how important protein is in a dog’s overall health, so you must figure out how much of this nutrient should be present in his food. Fortunately, this article is now around to shed some light on the topic.
What is Crude Protein Exactly?
Crude protein can be defined as the estimated total amount of protein present in a dog food. The estimated amount is based on the specific amount of nitrogen present in the food. If you are still unaware of what crude protein means, then there is a great chance you will immediately assume the indicated percentage is based on how much animal protein is present in a dog food. That is a misconception, though.
Crude protein percentage refers to the total amount of all proteins, not just those that come from animals. It covers all proteins, no matter where they come from. Also, note it does not encompass the protein’s quality, digestibility, or type so it covers protein coming from various sources, including chicken feet, chicken breasts, and soy.
Crude protein can, therefore, be defined as a dog food’s chemical analysis, wherein the total amount of nitrogen available is what’s being used in estimating the total protein. It should be noted that, while nitrogen is derived from animal protein, there are instances when it is also derived from non-animal sources, such as grains, and other nitrogen sources that are non-protein.
Such definition of what crude protein is might cause a gap between the dog food you are buying and feeding to your pet. You may instantly assume a high percentage of crude protein means a dog food has lots of high-quality animal protein. It is crucial to avoid such misconception, though, as the concept of crude protein covers all proteins included in the dog food, no matter where they came from.
In fact, for a lot of dry dog food manufacturers, the crude protein percentage indicated in their products’ labels cover carcasses, as well as other wastes derived from slaughtered animals that are then turned into a meal. In this case, the term “meal” indicated in a dog food bag instantly means such ingredients are included in the food, with those types of meat not fit for human consumption.
The problem is it might result in a high crude protein percentage without translating to having high-quality protein, considering the protein meals included are inferior. With that in mind, you should not completely rely on the high crude protein percentage when figuring out whether a dog food contains high-quality protein.
Determining how much crude protein should be in dog food should be on a case to case basis. Note that crude could mean several things, so the bottom line is it would be a bit difficult to figure out how much of a specific ingredient that is categorized as having crude protein is digestible and can nourish your dog’s body. The best bet, therefore, is to check all the sources of protein used in the food to figure out if it is top-notch quality.
The Importance of High-quality Protein in Dog Foods
Protein is one nutrient that should be present in dog food. This nutrient is composed of amino acids known to be building blocks designed to create strong muscles, while helping in the repair of body tissues. Dogs are only capable of naturally creating half their body’s daily amino acid requirement, which is the why the other amino acids need to be derived from their diet.
Due to the importance of protein in a dog’s diet, it is no longer surprising that trusted dog food brands make it a point to use ingredients known to give a good supply of high-quality protein. These include chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, egg, fish, and soybeans. All these are helpful in giving your dog a good supply of protein. Also, note that adult dogs, who are healthy, usually require around 18-25% protein, which can be derived from various sources.
Even if dogs are omnivores, they still heavily rely on protein to thrive and survive. The essential amino acids present in protein are vital in cell production. Protein deficiency in dogs might cause them to encounter a lot of health issues. They will be at risk of losing energy and lowering the ability of their immune system to fight diseases. There is also a great possibility for their coats to become lifeless and dull. It should be noted that the best type of protein for dogs is that which has a high biological value, as it means they can easily digest and absorb it.
It is also essential for you to understand the sources of superior protein, so you can figure out whether the crude protein percentage indicated in a dog food’s label contain, one of top-notch quality.
Some of the best sources of protein for commercial dog foods are:
(a) Real Meat
This is one of the best sources of high-quality protein. In fact, it provides protein naturally, which a dog can easily consume, digest, and absorb. It is also considered to be what the digestive system of a dog was designed to consume. Make sure the dog food you are buying contains a significant amount of real meat from beef, duck, venison, turkey, chicken, and liver.
Another great source of high-quality protein is fish. Just make sure it is cooked. A lot of trusted dog food brands offer formulas containing either fish or fish meal. One of the most popular choices is salmon, as it is known to be rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
You may not find a lot of dog foods containing cheese, but it is a really good source of high-quality protein for your dog. Note that while both cottage cheese and regular cheese contain protein, they also have different fat content. If your dog needs to stick to a low-fat diet, then it would be best to go for cottage cheese.
Aside from high-quality protein, there are also inferior sources of it. If a dog food also contains inferior protein sources, then it will be covered in the total crude protein percentage in a dog food’s label. That is why you must be aware of the high-quality sources of protein, so you can determine whether the indicated crude protein percentage is safe for your dog.
One inferior source of protein is from plants. Plant foods, such as gluten, wheat, and corn, contain protein but note that such is not good enough as far as quality is concerned. It is mainly because the digestive system of dogs is not designed to digest a huge amount of plant-based foods, such as corn and gluten. Also, these sources of protein are incapable of providing the specific amount of essential amino acids needed by your dog.
Another inferior protein source is meat by-product. If the dog food label indicates there is a meat by-product in its ingredients, it was taken from animal carcasses. While the meat by-products can still be expected to contain real meat, they also contain other parts of the animal, like hooves, claws, beaks, feathers, hair, and horns, making them inferior compared to real meat.
How to Ensure that You’re Buying a Dog Food with High-Quality Protein?
Now that you know crude protein encompasses both superior and inferior protein sources, it is crucial for you to know exactly how you can purchase a dog food guaranteed to contain high-quality protein. Note that you can’t fully rely on high crude protein percentage and measurement, as it always includes non-animal and low-quality protein.
To guarantee your dog’s safety and ensure he will not be ingesting too much inferior protein, here are some tips that will help you during the dog food selection process:
(1) Look for a dog food listing real whole meat in its ingredients
Make sure the first ingredients indicated in the dog food label or package include real whole meat. Some examples are salmon, lamb, chicken, etc. Such will guarantee that you will be feeding your dog a food that contains high-quality protein. It also means it is not from those ingredients used in increasing nitrogen level.
(2) Go for foods with real fruits, whole grains, and whole veggies
Such ingredients are known for instantly indicating the foods contain high quality nutrients.
(3) Read and understand the label and ingredients list
Make sure you fully understand those sections in a dog food. It should not contain any ingredient that is too hard to understand and pronounce. All ingredients should be plain and easy to understand.
(4) Contact the pet food company
If you want to ask about something related to the protein content of a dog food, as well as its other ingredients, do not hesitate to call the company. You will instantly know whether a dog food company can be trusted if it has a well-trained customer service team who can answer your queries. You may also want to seek the aid of a professional nutritionist or veterinarian. Ask questions related to the dog food to ensure you will not be serving your pet foods that are harmful to him.
One more thing you must take note of, aside from the tips already mentioned, is to stick to the natural and real rule all the time. Note it is always advisable to go for real and natural sources. With that in mind, any source of protein derived from natural and real meat is surely an excellent choice. If you are concerned about the health of your dog, then ensure you go for dog foods designed to nourish him, while helping him grow strong and healthy.
To ensure you are getting a dog food with high-quality ingredients and nutrients, especially as far as protein is concerned, it is advisable to check not only the crude protein percentage but also the actual sources of protein. You may have a difficult time determining these things on the packaging of the food, though.
Because of that, it is advisable to choose a trusted brand – one known for manufacturing pet foods that offer a hundred percent assurance regarding quality control. If you are in doubt, especially in terms of figuring out how much crude protein should be in dog food, then do not hesitate to seek the professional help of a veterinarian.