Non-Meat Protein for Canines

by Jodi Thornton O'Connell
    With careful planning, you can provide your dog with all the protein he needs from non-meat sources.

    With careful planning, you can provide your dog with all the protein he needs from non-meat sources.

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    Protein is one of the most important factors in your dog's diet. Your pet needs the 22 amino acids found in protein to live a healthy life. While he can synthesize 12 amino acids in his body, the other 10 are only available through high-quality protein, all of which are available through non-meat sources. If you're looking to supplement your dog's commercial diet without stripping your budget, you'll find several protein sources that deliver essential nutrition.

    Eggs deliver 18 of the 22 amino acids your dog needs for optimal health, including all 10 that your dog cannot synthesize in his own body. One egg packs more than 12 grams of protein while delivering a nutritional punch with Vitamins A, D and E as well as a range of B vitamins, lutein zeaxanthin and essential minerals. Scramble up an egg to mix in your dog's daily ration or hard cook a week's worth to crumble over his food. Consult your veterinarian before feeding your dog raw eggs.

    While not technically classified as meat, fish provides the second best source of bio-available protein after eggs. A 3-ounce portion of tuna, salmon or halibut delivers 22 grams of protein, and 19 amino acids. Fish delivers only 4.5 calories for each gram of protein, making it ideal for overweight dogs. Dogs who are not overweight should not receive most of their protein from fish as it has only 4 percent fat and dogs need 10 to 25 percent in their diet. Make healthy, protein-rich dog treats by slicing a fish filet in thin slices and bake in a 350-degree oven until crisp, about 30 minutes.

    While some dogs are lactose intolerant to milk, many have no problem with cultured dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese. Dairy products contain 10 amino acids, including five that dogs must get from their diet. Stir a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese into your dog's kibble or use small cubes of cheese as training treats. If you supplement his diet with yogurt, make sure to use brands that are unsweetened or free of artificial sweeteners that are toxic to dogs.

    One of the world's longest living dogs consumed a strictly vegan diet throughout her 27-year life. When properly combined to make sure your dog is receiving all the essential amino acids, grains, legumes and vegetables provide all the nutrition, calories and fat your dog needs. Soybean meal packs the highest protein punch in the vegetable world, with 35 to 38 percent of their calories coming from protein. Other high protein plant sources include quinoa, brown rice, potatoes, broccoli and spinach, among others. Consult your veterinarian before placing your dog on a plant-based diet.

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    About the Author

    Jodi Thornton O'Connell has been an outdoorswoman for more than 45 years. She shares her love of adventure in columns for "Out-and-About Magazine," "Adam’s Rib," "Senior Christian Lifestyles," "Creede Magazine" and various websites.

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