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What Are Plant-based Protein Sources for Vegan Dogs?

What Are Plant-based Protein Sources for Vegan Dogs?

Is it possible to provide adequate protein for dogs using only plant-based protein sources?


What is dietary protein?

When discussing dietary protein, there are two equally important concepts to consider – the quantity of the protein, that is, whether or not the amount of protein in the diet meets the dog’s needs, and the quality of the protein. Protein quantity is pretty easy to determine – we simply measure the amount of protein in the diet and compare that to the amount of protein recommended for the dog. Protein quality is a slightly more nebulous concept, including the amino acid profile of the protein, the digestibility and bioavailability of the amino acids within the protein.

So, when we consider plant-based protein sources, we need to ensure both quantity and quality are meeting the dog’s requirements. There are plenty of protein-rich plant-based ingredients, especially nuts, seeds and legumes, that can provide amino acids in foods for dogs, barely does one single protein source provide an ideal balance of amino acids. This is where complementary proteins are important, which means combining proteins with amino acid profiles that complement each other, to fill in the gaps and provide an overall complete protein. This can be achieved by using whole protein-rich ingredients and/or concentrating the proteins by removing them from the fat, starch and fibre fractions of the ingredient.

More and more research studies are being conducted daily regarding the quality of plant-based proteins, both for human and canine nutrition. The digestibility and bioavailability of many common plant-based proteins have been compared to those of animal-based proteins, both in isolation and within conventional diets for dogs. There has never been a better time to work with plant-based proteins, and the future continues to look bright!