Protein is an important dietary nutrient for dogs. Myths refuting the importance of protein in dogs’ diets continue despite scientific advances that have increased nutritional knowledge about protein.
“There is more reason to be concerned about feeding healthy dogs an inadequate amount of dietary protein than feeding too much protein,” says Purina Veterinary Communications Specialist Dorothy P. Laflamme, D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
Here are myths associated with protein:
- Protein causes kidney failure in older dogs.
Healthy older dogs need as much as 50 percent more protein than young adult dogs, Laflamme says, and protein does not harm healthy kidneys. The additional protein is important in helping dogs’ immune systems function at full capacity. Older dogs should have enough protein to help them fight the stress of aging.
- Large-breed puppies fed too much protein may develop bone problems.
It’s true that excess calorie intake can contribute to problems in large-breed puppies, but not dietary protein. Dietary protein requirements are much higher for growing puppies than for adult dogs because protein is needed to build growing muscles and other tissues. Studies in Great Dane puppies have shown that protein does not lead to developmental bone problems and those fed inadequate protein may have decreased growth rates and decreased immunological responses.
- Soy protein causes bloat.
Bloat, a potentially fatal disease in which swelling of the stomach compresses important body organs and blood vessels, most often occurs in large dogs with deep chests. Studies have shown no evidence linking soybean meal to bloat. Research has shown that the gas associated with bloat actually is swallowed air rather than gas caused by the fermentation of foods.