Optimal Protein Requirements for Dogs at Different Life Stages

By Carol Bryant

Optimal Protein Requirements for Dogs at Different Life Stages

Protein is a building block that is essential to dogs at all stages of life. Knowing how much protein to feed your dog according to its age is crucial information for dog parents to know. Always check with your pet’s veterinarian before adding or making any nutritional changes.

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

Not all protein in puppy food is equal, 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.

Adult Dogs
Diets of adult dogs (older than 1 year of age) should contain anywhere between 10 and 18 percent protein. Animal-based proteins -- including chicken, lamb, fish or beef -- are best for dogs.

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. 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. Generally, follow the same protein levels as an adult dog.

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

Carol Bryant is the Social Media and PR Director for Fido Friendly magazine. A frequent media contributor, Carol is a two-time nominee from the Dog Writers Association of America, and she maintains her own dog blog, Fidose of RealityHer articles have previously appeared in The Dog Daily.

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