Modern breeds of the domestic dog have changed dramatically from their ancestors, not only in appearance but in temperament also. One thing that has changed very little is their digestive system. Looking at wolves, a close relation of the domestic dog, they eat the whole carcass of their prey. This is made up of flesh, bones, intestines, marrow and connective tissue. This provides the wolf with everything it needs from fibre to trace minerals and vitamins in a very easily digestible package. Modern canine diets try and replicate the requirements of their ancestors.
Everything we eat and everything our dogs eat has a protein level. The picture on the left shows some common ingredients and their protein level. Once you blend those ingredients together and compress it into a kibble, a percentage of that kibble will be protein, although this does reflect the ingredients within the recipe, it does not reflect the digestibility of the protein.
Common sources of protein in commercial dog food can be quite difficult for a dog to digest. Some of these include wheat, soya and animal derivatives. Imagine the digestive system as a conveyor belt, constantly moving, if the nutrients needed by the dog are not removed from the food quickly enough the food passes by and the dog does not get everything it needs. This means certain foods require a greater quantity to supply the animal with the same nutrients as another food source.
If the food is made up of high quality ingredients such as fresh, dried or meat meal and vegetable protein sources such as whole rice and sweet potatoes, the digestive system can remove everything it needs before it goes past on it’s conveyor belt. This has a variety of positive impacts on the general health of the dog; reduced stools, improved stamina, less dehydration and reduced likelihood of digestive issues.
So, by understanding the ingredients and how they impact our dog’s health, you can see that the protein percentage is not a true reflection of the quality of the food. Imagine you have two recipes with the same level protein;
Recipe 1 – 26% Protein – Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives, oils and fats, minerals etc
Recipe 2 – 23% Protein – Rice, Fresh Chicken, Chicken Meal, Maize, herbs, vitamins, minerals etc
The second recipe has protein sources that are more easily digested than the first, but have a lower protein level on the packet than the cereal based formulation. The second list of ingredients will also supply a better balance of vitamins and minerals, and will result in a healthier dog. If you would like to learn more about individual ingredients in dog food, then click HERE for more information.