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It is easy to incorporate simple, yet healthy diets into your dog’s meals. While there are many foods that bring different benefits to your pets, proteins come with varying ranges of nutritional content and digestibility.
Therefore, it is possible to be perplexed with chicken, beef, fish, pork, and other meat sources when choosing the right protein for your pet. This list compiles and compares different types of meat to enable you to pick the best protein source for your dog. It also covers the best novel meat proteins, which are less mainstream.
Dogs typically take high-meat diets, making their digestive systems adaptive to this type of meal. They use proteins to gain from amino acids. Proteins are made up of many amino acids, which help to generate energy, build and repair cells and create enzymes and hormones.
Unlike plant protein, meat is a better protein because it has a higher count of amino acids. Red meat is also essential in enhancing the dog’s stomach acidity which is an element that helps to kill harmful pathogens (infectious agents).
Unlike plants, which are more alkaline, acidity developed through the consumption of meat is the best for digesting tougher materials, such as bones. It also helps to control against diseases, including urinary tract infections and bladder stones.>
When choosing the right source of proteins for your dog, you should not limit it to meat alone. Instead, you can mix it up with other sources of proteins, such as plants, grains, seeds, milk and eggs.
Meat varies in taste. This is a significant factor to consider to ensure that your dog obtains proteins from the best flavors. You may consider going for meat that has a strong smell as they appeal better to dogs’ senses.
It is essential to weigh and choose between the type of meat and its quality when selecting the right protein for your pet. Consider going for free-range or human-grade meat as these have high levels of nutrients. Also, avoid foods with chemicals and hormones.
Free-range and human-grade are quality standards, which mark meat sourced from pasture-raised animals and poultry. They also signify meat that is raised more humanely or naturally. Therefore, look out for packages labeled organic, grass-fed, free-roaming, cage-free, or hormone/steroid/GMO-free.
Depending on the medical condition of your pet, some types of meat may be more healthy than others. Some dogs also have better genetic build-up. For instance, dalmatians demand for more white meat because these proteins have low levels of purine.
Dogs suffering from renal disease may benefit more when fed red meat as they have lower phosphorus levels. Chicken, turkey, pork, and seafood have high phosphorus levels, therefore may not be beneficial for pets with kidney problems.
You may consult your veterinarian to help you choose nutritional formulations with the best combination of phosphorus, potassium, and fatty acids for your pet.
Picking the best meat for your dog may not always match your budget. Sources of proteins, such as salmon and tuna, are more expensive as compared to regular meat. Therefore, if you are cash-constrained, you may want to go for cheaper diets, such as turkey and chicken.
It is essential to understand the level of protein your dog needs, as opposed to the amount of food they take. On average, dogs need approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Many pet owners choose between chicken, pork, beef, and fish as sources of meat protein for their dogs.
Chicken has more protein and less fat compared to beef and pork. Many dogs also find chicken more delicious than other sources of proteins. You may also go for chicken because it is cheaper than beef.
However, be sure to prepare and cook the chicken properly to prevent from contamination by bacteria. Observe proper hygiene when handling raw chicken, such as washing hands and disinfecting utensils and surfaces where the meat was cut.
You can choose to feed your dog either roasted or boiled chicken. Observe an internal temperature of 165 degrees when preparing this food for your dog.
Many dogs love the density, color, and texture of pork meat. This food is also affordable for pet owners. Though it has more fat than chicken and beef, pork has the same level of proteins as beef.
When choosing which part to feed your dog, go for the leg and shoulder as these parts are affordable and easy to obtain. You can also buy ground pork but refrain from feeding your pet cured pork commodities such as bacon and ham.
You can prepare the pork by roasting whole pieces at 145 degrees. Cook ground products at 165 degrees.
Beef is a common source of proteins for dog owners. This food is not only nutritious and affordable, but many dogs seem to love the taste of beef meat.
Beef cuts vary in prices, but the nutritional levels are relatively the same. You will want to go for cuts from the hip or shoulder. You can also buy ground beef as it is cheaper than raw meat.
You can prepare beef for your dog by roasting it. Ground beef should be cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while whole pieces can be prepared at 145 degrees then allowed to cool for 3 minutes.
Many fish proteins are sourced mostly from salmon, tuna, and trout. Fish is very healthy as it is low in fat, rich in omega oils, and has many vitamins and nutrients. Few dogs are allergic to it, making fish meat a good source of proteins for dogs with allergies.
However, you should avoid fish breeds with high mercury levels, such as shark, marlin, swordfish, and broadbill. Look out for fresh or professionally processed fish to avoid feeding your dog with food containing thiaminases. This substance comes from fish bred in freshwaters, and it causes Vitamin B deficiency in pets.
You can prepare fish by roasting or frying it at 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 62.8 degrees Celcius.
Chicken is better for dogs as compared to beef because the former has more protein and less fat than the latter.
Chicken is rich in proteins, vitamins B3 and B6, and phosphorus. It is also the most digestible form of protein for your dog, followed by beef. In terms of biological value, chicken has more levels of amino acids, at a score of 79, while beef is at 75, making chicken the better of the two.
However, chicken is not recommended for dogs with allergies. Chicken is also frequently contaminated with Salmonella bacteria when not prepared well. Gently cook the chicken meat to ensure bioavailability of nutrients otherwise lost at higher heat.
Sometimes it is necessary to switch your dog's diet from one meat to another type of meat, such as from chicken to beef. The reason for this change that is needed can be illness, allergies, cost; or perhaps simply adding variety to your pet’s meals.
You can feed your dog with chicken organs every day. You should mix these parts in small proportions with other sources of proteins and foods, such as rice. For instance, the kidney is rich in fatty acids and is good for healthy skin and coat for your pet.
Other parts, such as the chicken neck, feet, and heart, are packed with essential amino acids, calcium, and vitamins for everyday nutritional value for your dog.
Pet owners may prefer raw over cooked meat to give their dogs nutritional value equivalent to the diet of wild dogs. However, domesticated dogs have a longer life expectancy than wild ones. Therefore, feeding your pet food a diet that is consisting only of raw meat may lack the balanced and complete nutrition that your dog needs.
Cooked meat is better for your dog as compared to raw food because it is more digestible, making it easy for the body to produce energy, develop muscles, and support the immune system.
Raw meat if not prepared rightly may have parasites and bacteria. However, to retain the nutritional value of the dog food, consider cooking it at lower temperatures.
Factors such as the pet’s activity level, metabolism, and the fat level in the diet will determine how much to feed your dog. Keep weighing your dog and adjust the amount of food upwards and downwards as needed. Increase or reduce by not more than 10 percent per day.
Generally, dogs eat 2-3 percent of their body weight. Large dogs tend to consume a lower percentage, while small ones take a higher rate of their body weight. Therefore, giant breeds may eat as little as 1½ percent when toy breeds are taking as much as 4-5 percent of their body weight every day.
With the wide range of protein sources, it can be quite difficult to decide which type of protein is actually the best for the health of your dog.
They range from nutritional content, digestibility, and some protein sources are healthier for your dog than others. Sometimes it is necessary to switch your dog's diet from one meat type to another. The reason for this needed change can be illness, allergies, cost; or just to add some variety to your pet's meals.
While beef, chicken, and pork are the most common proteins in the market, there are also several other readily available quality meats such as turkey, duck and lamb. Novel proteins which are not mainstream meats but contain greater nutrients and are leaner meats such as venison, kangaroo, rabbit and crocodile are excellent choices especially for dogs with allergies. Novel proteins mean they are “new” to your pet’s diet that your dog has not eaten before. A new meat diet can help those with food sensitivities.
Kangaroo meat is a popular choice, especially among Australian dog owners. A diet made of kangaroo meat is good for your dog as it is very low in fat and is rich in vitamin B, iron, zinc, and omega 3s.
This game meat is also free-range, making it healthy for pets that suffer from allergic reactions or intolerance. It is organically sourced and minimally processed, making it high quality.
Dog food manufacturers are also increasingly switching to venison (deer meat), among other game meat. Venison is a good source of novel proteins for dogs with allergies. It is also easily digestible.
A diet made of venison is rich in high levels of vitamin B6 and B12, thiamin, zinc, niacin, and phosphorus. It is a source of nutritionally dense proteins for keeping your dog healthy all year long.
Crocodile meat is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, making it a good source of novel proteins for your dog. It can be mixed with vegetables to provide your dog with energy.
You can also add sunflower oil to the crocodile meat to enhance the levels of amino acids and to create an ideal balance for omega 3. Omega 3 helps to promote healthy skin and coat.
When choosing the right protein for your dog, you should consider the nutritional value of the food and the pet’s metabolism, including allergies. While chicken has a high biological value, compared to pork, beef, and fish, fish is better for dogs with allergies. Kangaroo, venison, and crocodile are rich sources of novel proteins, and they are recommended for dogs with allergic reactions to mainstream proteins. Other factors to also consider are the taste, cost and quality for the health of your beloved dog.
Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.
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