Proper Canine Nutrition: Popular Myths About Protein

It is important to have all of the facts before rushing to judgment. This is especially true when deciding what dog food to feed. Many myths surround the feeding of dog foods, and many of them are related to protein.

Ralston Purina Company believes that it takes science, knowledge and time to develop nutritious pet foods. Ralston Purina conducts extensive feeding studies, including those on growth, palatability, reproduction, digestion and maintenance, at the Purina Pet Care Center. It is studies like these and other studies conducted at other institutions that have allowed Ralston Purina to combat the myths about protein with facts about protein. Below are some myths that surround protein:

  • Myth #1: High Protein Intake Causes Renal Failure
    A common misconception is that high protein levels in dogs diets are linked to renal failure. Leading universities have investigated this link, and it is now well documented that high protein intake does not cause kidney damage. It remains true that some dogs that already have chronic renal failure may benefit from a lower protein diet. Dogs with renal failure lose their ability to properly metabolize protein. These patients often feel better when fed less protein. Protein restricted diets for dogs with chronic renal failure should be fed only under the direction of a veterinarian. However, it is important to understand that while a damaged kidney cannot handle protein, protein in the diet is not the cause of kidney damage.

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  • Myth #2: Elderly Dogs Need Less Protein
    Despite some popular beliefs, science demonstrates that geriatric dogs need high levels of protein. Healthy geriatric dogs digest protein in a similar manner to young adult dogs. However, in order to maintain optimum protein reserves healthy elderly dogs may need more protein than younger adult dogs. In one study, older dogs needed 50 percent more protein than young adult dogs to maximize protein reserves. Protein helps maintain lean body mass, and it helps support immune function.
  • Myth #3: Large Breed Puppies Need a Special Formula
    All puppies have special needs compared to adult dogs. Purina® Puppy Chow® brand puppy food is appropriate for all breeds of puppies, including large breeds. The premise behind the newer "large breed" puppy foods is based on research conducted by Ralston Purina and others that shows a benefit to controlling calories in growing large breed puppies. The intake of excessive nutrients by puppies can lead to obesity and musculoskeletal problems. Controlling calorie intake can help large breed puppies develop at an appropriate rate of growth for healthy development. It is not necessary to have a special formula or product based on breed size for this purpose, as the same benefit has been achieved by controlled feeding with an existing complete and balanced puppy food.
  • Myth #4: Bloat Is Caused By Soy In Dog Foods
    Bloat is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog's stomach expands with gas and then suddenly twists, trapping the gas inside. Some people believe that soybean protein causes bloat, but considerable research has discounted this belief. There is no evidence that the protein content or source in a diet contributes to bloat. Research has shown the gas associated with bloat to be swallowed air. Highly nervous or active dogs, as well as those that drink or eat excessively fast, are at a greater risk of developing bloat. Dogs with deep-chested conformation are at greatest risk. Veterinarians discourage feeding hardworking dogs and large breed dogs before or after exercise because of the increased risk of gastric bloat. Swallowing air while eating food and vigorous exercise soon after feeding are thought to contribute to bloat.

If you would like to test your knowledge on canine nutrition, call the Purina Pro Club at 1-800-851-3148 and ask for free information on canine nutrition myths. Please ask for pamphlet A-PC-085.

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