crude protein in dog food

What is Crude Protein in Dog Food and How Much is Optimum?

Understanding the role and importance of crude protein in your dog's diet is crucial for their health and well-being. This comprehensive guide delves deep into what crude protein is, its benefits, and the optimum levels needed for different types of dogs.

Key Summary

  • Crude protein in dog food, representing total protein content from various sources, is essential for a dog's muscle development, energy levels, and overall health.


  • The quality and digestibility of the protein source in dog food are as crucial as the crude protein content for canine well-being.


  • Optimum crude protein levels vary by age and activity level, with adult dogs needing a minimum of 18%, and puppies and active dogs requiring higher amounts.

What is Crude Protein?

Crude protein, a term you'll often encounter in the context of dog food, refers to the total protein content present in the food. This includes protein from various sources, whether it be meat-based like chicken, beef, or fish, or plant-based like legumes and grains. 


Unlike refined analysis, crude protein measurement does not distinguish between these sources. Hence, it's a blend of different types of proteins, each contributing to the total protein count in the food.

Understanding Protein Source vs. Crude Protein in Dog Food

When it comes to feeding our canine companions, understanding the difference between the protein source and crude protein is vital. While crude protein offers a general indication of the protein content in dog food, the protein source sheds light on the quality and type of protein.

The Value of Crude Protein

the value of crude protein

Crude protein is determined through laboratory testing and provides a ballpark figure of the protein content in dog food. This measure is essential for ensuring that the dietary needs, especially of active and growing dogs, are met. A high percentage of crude protein usually suggests a diet rich in essential nutrients needed for muscle development, energy, and overall health.

Did you know? Crude protein is essential to allow your dog to grow, repair and regenerate as most of the body consists of protein and needs replacing once used in daily activities.

Significance of Protein Source

The protein source, on the other hand, refers to the specific ingredients contributing to the total protein content. The significance of the protein source lies in its varied amino acid profiles and digestibility rates, which are crucial for addressing the health needs and preferences of different dogs. For instance, fish protein, rich in omega fatty acids, might suit some dogs better, while others may require lean protein from chicken.

Is Crude Protein Good for Dogs?

Crude protein encompasses all the ways protein is calculated and determined in a dog's diet. It's important to note that the term 'crude' does not reflect the quality or nutritional value of the protein source, therefore, while crude protein is an essential component of a dog's diet, it's the quality of the protein source that truly matters.

How Much Crude Protein Should a Dog Have?

The amount of crude protein required in a dog's diet varies based on age, breed, and activity level. For adult dogs, food should contain a minimum of 18% crude protein. Puppies, nursing, or pregnant dogs need a higher content, at least 22.5%. Active and senior dogs have specific protein needs that depend largely on their activity levels and overall health.

What are the Benefits of High Crude Protein Dog Food?

High crude protein dog food offers several key benefits for dogs at different life stages and activity levels. Let's take a look at why crude protein is important:

Enhanced Muscle Development

High crude protein is crucial for muscle growth and maintenance, particularly for puppies and active dogs. It supports muscle repair and overall muscular health.

Increased Energy Levels

Protein provides a steady energy source, vital for active dogs. It helps in maintaining consistent energy levels throughout the day.

Supports Overall Health

Protein is essential for the health of skin, hair, nails, and immune function. High crude protein diets help in maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being.

Optimal Growth in Puppies

A high crude protein diet is vital for puppies' rapid growth, providing the necessary nutrients for their development.

Ideal for Active and Working Dogs

Active and working dogs benefit from high crude protein diets, which support recovery and maintain energy levels for peak performance.

Aids Ageing Dogs

Older dogs may need more protein to maintain muscle mass and strength, helping to mitigate the effects of ageing.

Dog Food Brands with Good Crude Protein Levels

If you are looking for brands that are known for their thoughtful formulation, with good protein levels and high-quality sources, then look no further. Here are three of our favourites:

1. Beco

We couldn’t talk about high-quality, protein-rich dog food without giving mention to ourselves, but we aren’t just bigging ourselves up for the sake of it. We are passionate about the dog food we make and the ingredients we put into it. 


Wherever possible, we stick to single protein sources, for easy digestion, and we boost this with a range of vitamins and nutrients to ensure your pooch has a comprehensive meal that tastes great and supports health and wellbeing too. 


With a range of wet and dry dog food, we feature freshly prepared, protein-rich ingredients such as chicken, turkey, wild boar, cod, and haddock, which are paired with vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, green beans, and kale. In our meals you will find omega 3 and 6 for skin and coat health, vitamin A to bolster a dog’s immune system, vitamin C for heart health, and plenty of antioxidants to boost your dog’s health. 

2. Lily’s Kitchen

Another brand with a range of wholesome ingredients in their food is Lily’s Kitchen. Nutritionally balanced and organic, their Lamb Supper is made up of four different meats; beef, pork, chicken and, of course, lamb. Added to this is a unique blend of herbs packed full of vitamins and nutrients, all of which are certified organic which is beneficial to dogs with sensitivities.


This brand only ever uses proper meat, nothing is ever processed, and it is freshly prepared, making it far easier for your dog to digest. They work closely with vets and pet nutritionists to ensure that every product is nutritionally complete and packed full of all the goodness needed, such as antioxidants and fibre. 


3. Canagan

The whole Canagan range has been expertly crafted to match your dog’s ancestral diet. It uses nutritious animal ingredients for protein that are then balanced with a range of specially selected vegetables and botanicals. 


With protein-rich ingredients such as free-range chicken and freshly prepared beef, your dog will get all the essential amino acids, and vitamins it needs to support muscle development and the immune system. 


The added veggies and herbs help to enhance the flavour and texture as well as adding in important benefits such as antioxidants which protect against free radicals, soluble fibre, and slow-release energy.  

Canagan Free Range Chicken

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Crude Protein is Best for Dogs?

The best crude protein for dogs is one that comes from high-quality sources, like lean meats, fish, and healthy plant-based options. The protein should be easily digestible and suit the dog’s specific dietary needs.

Crude Protein vs "Normal" Protein: What's the Difference?

Crude protein refers to the total protein content in dog food, without differentiating the sources. "Normal" protein might imply a more refined measurement, focusing on the quality and type of protein.

Is Crude Protein Bad for Dogs?

Not inherently. It's the quality of the protein sources that determines whether a dog food is beneficial or detrimental to a dog's health.

How is Crude Protein Calculated in Dog Food?

Calculating crude protein in dog food is usually done using a standard laboratory method known as the Kjeldahl or similar methods. These tests estimate the total nitrogen content, which is then converted into a protein value.

Are There Dog Foods with Low Crude Protein?

Yes, there are dog foods formulated with lower crude protein levels, often recommended for dogs with specific health issues or dietary restrictions.

How Much Crude Protein Should Be in Puppy Food?

Puppy food should contain at least 22.5% crude protein to support their rapid growth and development.

Wagging Goodbye

Crude protein in dog food is a key factor in ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet for your pet. While the amount of crude protein is important, understanding the quality and source of the protein is equally crucial. Brands like Beco, Lily’s Kitchen, and Canagan offer products with well-balanced crude protein levels, catering to the diverse dietary needs of dogs. Remember, every dog is unique, and their dietary requirements will vary. Therefore, it's always advisable to consult with a veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your furry friend.


Shop for our protein-rich, nutritionally complete dog food here.

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