dog food protein

Dog Food Protein Decoded for Pet Parents

dog food protein

Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors have different dog food protein needs. Years ago, you fed your new pooch what came out of a bag marked “puppy food” and at the ripe age of one year, most dog parents switched over to adult dog food. Times have changed and we now that one size does not fit all when it comes to dog food.

Protein is a building block essential to all dogs at all stages of life. Knowing how much to protein to feed according to a dog’s age is crucial information for all dog parents to know. Always check with a dog’s veterinarian before adding or making any nutritional changes. Here’s the bottom line and how much protein dogs need according to their life stage, style, breed, activity level, and much more:


Protein is an essential nutrient to all dogs in all life stages, but is important in proper amounts for puppies to help development of all body tissues. While in their formative months, puppies generally require about 22 to 28 percent of the calories in puppy food to be protein content.  This ensures puppies will develop a healthy immune system along with providing the essential building blocks for optimal growth. Growing bodies need more protein.

Not all proteins in puppy food are created equally, so knowing how to interpret a pet food label is important. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so something like lamb meat or meal is a good source of quality protein.

cute puppy

Adult Dogs

Diets of adult dogs (over one year of age) should contain anywhere between 10 and 18 percent protein. Animal-based proteins are best for dogs, including chicken, lamb, fish, or beef.

Senior Dogs

The old adage that senior diets should include a reduced level of protein has proven to be inaccurate. In fact, senior diets should maintain a steady, if not increased, level of protein so dogs can maintain good muscle mass. Protein levels have been proven not to contribute to renal failure onset or progression. The extra protein a senior dog’s system does not need will be excreted via urine, burned off in exercise, or stored as fat. Feeding quality protein in canines with kidney issues ensures the dog’s kidneys will not work as hard.

Working, pregnant, lactating, and special needs dogs should have their protein levels adjusted in conjunction with veterinary recommendation.


Not All Dog Foods are Created Equal. Protein sources vary by food and so do labels. Human Grade vs. Feed Grade Pet Foods: Which one does your dog eat? Be sure to check out our blog post on the topic.

Organic or Natural?

These two words get tossed around a lot these days. If you are baffled as to what the difference between organic and natural is, be sure to check out our blog post on the topic.

QUESTION: So what are you feeding your dog? Are you interested in learning more about dog food, its effect on the overall health and well being of dogs, and how exactly what you feed has a direct impact on your dog’s well being?

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  1. This was interesting! Thanks for posting 🙂
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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