I first posted this article in the food group to see if the information was correct, it sounded good to me., but... I'll admitt that I know the value of feeding good food but have not always been a good judge of what is good food.  It was suggested that I repost the article here for others to read and comment on.  Well, Karen and F.'s comments in the food group, are enough for me to know the article is not accurate.  SO, why would I repost it here?   As a reminder about how easy it is to take information at face value when you see the author has a DVM degree,  when word phrases are used to impress readers such as, "...proper calcium-phosphorus ratio", and "...a high quality protein is more “bioavailable”...", and when the author talks about the health and welfare of our beloved dogs.  Sorry to have posted incorrect info....I'm greatful for our DK food experts!!

I saw this article and thought it was good, but wondered what our DK food experts thought....I'm just not sure how much protein is too much.  One BB food is 24% crude protein another is 34%.  

The Dangers of High Protein Dog Foods featured

By Ashley Gallagher, DVM

Choosing what to feed your Lab can be an overwhelming decision. Pet food stores are packed with row after row of different brands of food all containing clever marketing slogans to convince you they are the best for your pup. Many of these foods boast about containing extremely high levels of protein that claim to satisfy your Lab’s instinctive need for meat as well as make him healthier and live longer.

Aren’t Dogs Carnivores?

Marketing tactics by some pet food companies have fueled a common misconception among pet owners that dogs are complete carnivores and require a diet that consists mostly of meat. As anyone who’s watched a Lab wolf down a carrot knows, this is not the case. Dogs, like people, are omnivores and do best with a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Excessive protein consumption is unnecessary for Labs at best, and for some with medical conditions can actually be harmful.

Proteins are the building blocks of the body and an absolute necessity for daily function, but when a dog consumes too much protein in a meal it can’t all be utilized at one time -- and protein can’t be stored for later. The body just gets rid of the excess protein through the kidneys and it ends up in urine. The quality of the protein is actually more important than the amount, as a high quality protein is more “bioavailable”, meaning it can be better absorbed by the body.

Another issue is that the meat in these diets contains not only protein but other nutrients that you don’t want in excessive amounts. For example, when a diet is mostly meat it becomes difficult to maintain a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio. When this ratio is out of balance disruptions in bone growth or kidney damage can occur. Well formulated dog foods have an appropriate balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to prevent this from happening.

Is Excessive Protein in Dog Food Bad for My Lab?

Protein is a calorie dense nutrient and many of the high protein diets are extremely high in calories and can quickly lead to weight gain. When over 50% of dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, dog owners need to be aware of where those extra calories are hiding. If a Lab has kidney or liver issues, consuming too much protein can increase the workload on these organs and upset the balance of nutrients leading to worsening health.

Rather than look for a dog food that contains massive levels of protein, try to find one that is specifically formulated for your dog’s lifestyle, life stage, and size. A working sled dog, for example, will have significantly different nutrient and caloric requirements than the average Lab that chases lots of sticks but also spends much of the day lounging. These two dogs should not be fed the same diet.

Puppies, meanwhile, require more protein than adult dogs because their bodies are busy growing. Having said that, feeding puppies something that is too high in protein may make them put on weight too quickly causing abnormal joint development and making them more prone to issues like arthritis in the future.

The safest diets are those that have been developed by pet food companies that invest in scientific research, consult with veterinary nutritionists, and perform feeding trials to develop their diets. This approach provides a pet food that is properly balanced, without excess nutrients that are unnecessary and can in some cases even be harmful.

A version of this article was originally printed on

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  • Thank you for reposting this, it is exactly what the average dog owner has to deal with and it's what keeps the junk food makers going.  Last year we had a bit of an argument with a breeder, who happens to be a vet and I was looking at Labs - well the article you have posted is almost exactly what she said to me.  She refused to sell me a pup due to my refusal to keep the pup on Purina Dog Chow, it was in the contract and I was feeding my dog  a high protein, grain free food.  It was also pointed out to me that grain free was a bunch of hog wash.  "Newfangled" Her reasoning was so incredibly close to this article, truly amazing.    Combined with dog show sponsors there seems to be a high direction of confusion.   Who is the pet owner to trust? Themselves.

    • The article's wording is straight out of the Science Diet playbook, lol, which is of course where the vets get most of their information on canine nutrition. :)

  • Michelle, we all fell for the Rx food nonsense at some point. Me too. No need to feel guilty, we all did the best we could with the information we had at the time. The info wasn't out there until after the 2007 recalls. Now we know better, and when you know better, you do better. :) 

    • Amen to that!
    • Absolutely - I fell for it a couple of time - the food, the allergies and the stupid steroids - altogether could have had more time and all I can say is that put it together, this is why I do tons of research and have come to have a major appreciation for all the efforts on the part of DK'ers.     Sometimes trust can be a double edged sword, I tend to avoid sharp objects.

      Not to mention the simple fact that many rescue organizations provide newly adoptive parents with a 'free' bag of SD to get them started..

    • Amen!

  • One thing really jumped out for me--check out the second to last paragraph.  "This approach provides a pet food that is properly balanced, without excess nutrients..."   So apparently it's a great idea to put in plenty of non-nutrient fillers so this dangerous flaw can be avoided...??

    • LOL, Pat!

      You could take the whole article apart sentence by sentence and find similar kinds of nonsense. 

    • I noticed that also, Pat.  Let's all buy a low quality, low protein, low nutrient food!

  • The only reason commercial dog food is relatively low in protein is because it cost too much to make dog food that is 50% or more meat.

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