As consumers, we get a lot of mixed messages about what our dogs require in their diets. When it comes to protein, how much and what type do our pups need? We're here to break down some common myths and facts.
Myth: Dogs need meat for protein.
FACT: Dogs need protein, but it doesn't have to come from meat. Plant foods like peas, lentils, and chickpeas are high in protein and easily digestible for dogs. Dog food companies have been using these plant-based protein sources for decades, and dogs in India have been on meatless diets for centuries. While dogs do require certain nutrients in their diets, they do not require specific ingredients.
Learn more: Ask the Vegan Vet: Does my dog need to eat meat?
Myth: Plant proteins are "incomplete."
FACT: Plant-based dog foods can provide all the amino acids your dog needs. Dogs require 10 amino acids in their diets, so be sure to look for a plant-based diet that meets AAFCO standards for dog nutrition. Taurine, which is not required by AAFCO, is typically added to these diets as well.
Myth: Protein from meat is healthier than protein from plants.
FACT: Meat-based protein comes with health risks. Studies have found carcinogenic compounds in meat-based pet food, and chronic diseases like kidney failure have been observed in dogs consuming these foods. Meat-based pet food manufacturers typically source "4-D meat" from animals that are disabled, diseased, dying or dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse. Recalls are common due to poor quality control.
Learn more: Top 4 Risks of Meat-Based Dog Food
Myth: Meat-based protein is more "natural."
FACT: Dogs have been thriving on plant protein for thousands of years, thanks to their side-by-side evolution with humans. The concept of plant protein is not new, and even meat-based pet food companies use it in their diets. Additionally, plant-based protein is an excellent option for sensitive and allergy-prone dogs, since animal protein allergies are surprisingly common.
Myth: The more protein, the better.
Fact: Too much protein can be difficult for dogs to process. According to AAFCO, adult dogs require at least 18% protein in their diets, and puppies at least 22.5%. What about those "high-protein" dog foods that boast nearly double these numbers? Research suggests that high-protein, grain-free diets can lead to uremia, or the inability of the kidneys to remove waste from the blood. Protein, as opposed to carbohydrates and fats, is not an ideal source of energy, and excess protein can be stored in the body as fat. High-protein dog foods are often calorie-dense as well, which may be a contributing factor to obesity.
Learn more: Effects of Grains and Protein Levels in Dog Food
V-dog makes nutritionally complete plant-based kibble and treats for your pooch. Switching to a vegan diet is easy and offers health benefits like improved digestion and reduced allergy symptoms. Thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes have thrived on v-dog -- check out their stories here!