Food Percentages

Is there a general guideline of protein/fat percentage in dog food suggested for dogs as active as BC's? I feed my dog puppy food (she's 10 months) with a 31% protein, 20% fat. At first I thought it was excessive, but she still looks leggy (could be her smooth coat). She's about 20 inches at the shoulders, and weighs about 40 lbs. I let her free-feed. I was also wondering about supplemental foods. My family used to feed our dog cottage cheese and eggs off and on. Does this help the coat?

The problem with answering this question is that only you have the information necessary to answer it. For one, every dog's nutritional demands and activity levels are unique. Canine nutritionists refer to this as maintenance energy requirement (MER). This varies according to breed, weight, individual physiology, age, weather outside, work activities, etc.

An additional complication is that the percentage of protein or fat or other food components noted on the packaging of dog foods are particular to the kind of food. 31% protein for a dry food is not the same as 31% protein for a canned meat food. You have to do a conversion for the moisture content to get a true percentage.

Even worse is the fact that not all proteins are the same. Some are easily digestible by dogs, others are not. Depending on how the particular food achieves its 31% percentage through the various protein sources can make a big difference in how much of the 31% is actually available and usable by your dog.

There are entire books written on this so answering your question via a brief internet analysis is practically impossible. At most, a range of percentages could be given as an outline but it is up to you, your vet, and your dog to determine what's the real answer. However, 31% protein and 20% fat (for a dry kibble) are a bit high but probably appropriate for your active BC.

Freefeeding is a good practice to help overcome this problem as your dog probably knows what's best for her far better than anyone else on the planet, including you and your vet. If her health is fine and her physical condition is good, she's probably OK on her own. She'll eat the percentage she requires - no more or no less. If her health is failing or she is obese, then you might want to step in.

Cooked eggs are excellent source of protein. Cottage cheese is a good additional source of protein. But if you are feeding a brand-name commercial dog food that is well balanced, additional supplementation is truly unnecessary. Direct protein supplementation will probably not help the dog's coat condition - unless it is lacking in the primary diet. If you are worried about a dog's coat, a fatty acid supplement (available in pet stores) might be beneficial (though I would ask your vet first if it is necessary). If you do supplement your dog's diet with other foods, the general rule of thumb is not more than 10% of its diet.

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