What’s the best protein source for your dog?

As humans, we think a lot about what we eat. Maybe a little too much. What’s better for us, chicken or red meat? Fish or chicken? Is one fish better for us than another?

But do we give as much thought to the ingredients—particularly the protein—in our dogs’ food?

We may research the best brands to search out what we think is the best quality food, but most of us don’t give much thought to the protein source in the food. Or whether one protein has greater nutritional value than another.

Maybe we should…because dogs may be omnivores, meaning they can survive on an animal-based or plant-based diet, but we don’t want our pets to merely survive. We want them to thrive—to be the healthiest and happiest they can be.

That means they need to eat a diet that consists of an animal protein as its main ingredient, and one with substantial nutritional value.

Why is protein so important?

Protein is necessary for growth and development, and for a healthy immune system. The building blocks of protein, the amino acids, are what’s important about protein.

There are 22 amino acids, and our dogs need all of them to be healthy. They produce 12 of them in their bodies. The other 10 have to come from their diet, making them essential amino acids. They are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.

Just like any other nutritional deficiency, a shortage of one of these amino acids can spell trouble for your dog’s health.

There is a way to know which proteins provide the amino acids your dog needs, and if the protein provides it in the right proportions and in a way that the body can use it. It’s a measure called biological value, and it ranges from 0 to 100.

The higher the protein’s biological value, the more usable it is by the body. Take a look at this chart from The Consumer’s Guide to Dog Food. You can see that there’s a substantial difference in usability from one protein to the next.


Biological Value



Fish Meal










Wheat Gluten


And you’ll also notice that animal protein has a higher biological value than plant protein. Chicken, a very common ingredient in dog food, has a biological value of 95.

Husse premium products contain egg and poultry protein because they are such high quality sources of protein. They are easily digested and utilized by your dog’s body.

How much protein does my dog need?

Depending on the size of your dog, their life stage, and their activity level they require different amounts of protein. You can find the percentage of protein on the dog food label.

The recommended percentage of protein in your dog’s diet should fall within the following ranges:

Puppy 22-32%

Adult 15-30%

Performance Dog 22-32%

Sled Dog 28-34%

Lactating Dog 25-35%

These are pretty wide ranges but keep in mind that, although you don’t want to feed too much protein, slightly exceeding what your dog needs generally won’t hurt them.

If your dog consumes too much protein, some will be secreted in their urine. The rest will be used as calories or converted to fat. Of course, this can result in an overweight dog.

If you stay within the recommended ranges, your dog should get the protein they need. Most dog foods assume the recommended amounts and add slightly more.

What’s the downside of feeding too much protein?

There are some risks to feeding your dog a diet that is too high in protein.

In the past, a high protein diet was believed to cause kidney damage but recent research seems to refute that. However, a dog with kidney or liver problems should definitely not consume too much protein. Talk to your vet to be sure your dog’s diet is not exacerbating their kidney or liver disease.

Feeding your dog a diet with too much meat can throw off the balance between other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. This can cause problems with bone growth.

Protein is calorie dense, so too much protein can pack on the pounds leading to obesity. And that’s a huge health risk.

If you feed a large breed puppy too much protein, they may gain weight too quickly and this can lead to joint problems. Joint problems as a puppy can lead to serious problems like arthritis down the road.

Remember too that protein is the most expensive ingredient in your dog’s food. If you are feeding your dog a food with too high a protein content, you’re probably paying more than you need to.

Like humans, dogs do best with a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Super premium dog foods like Husse provide that balance.

What should I look for on the dog food label?

It can be confusing to decipher the ingredients on the label of your dog’s food. It shouldn’t be, and a premium food without anything to hide won’t be. But some commercial foods have vague names for some of their ingredients because they’re just not wholesome.

Here are some things to look for.

The first ingredient on the label should be a protein source like a recognizable meat or meat meal. For example, chicken or chicken meal.

Meat meal is a dehydrated form of meat. Its low moisture provides a more concentrated form of protein.   Meat meal from a specific meat source like lamb meal or chicken meal is fine.

Try to avoid a generic meat meal with no specific origin like bone meal, meat meal, and poultry meal. Although they can be high in protein, the biological value of these ingredients is very low so they don’t provide the amino acids in the right proportions to give your dog what they need.

Most commercial foods will contain both a meat and a specific meat meal for balanced nutrition.

Avoid food that lists a grain with a low biological value like corn, corn gluten and wheat as the first ingredient.

Meat byproducts seem mysterious and maybe even a little frightening. If you’ve heard that byproducts include horns, hooves, hair and teeth, that’s not true according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). They regulate the pet food industry.

But byproducts can include blood, organs and bones, and in the instance of poultry byproducts…heads and feet.

Not all byproducts are harmful to your dog but they have a low biological value, making them nutritionally inferior to meat and meat meal with a specified origin.

Choosing a super premium dog food like Husse takes some of the guesswork out of knowing if you’re feeding your dog a high quality food. Husse uses high quality protein sources that give your dog all the amino acids they need.

Do you read the dog food label before choosing a food for your dog? Share your thoughts in the comment section above.


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