How many different proteins should be fed?

Often I am asked the question, ” How many different proteins do I need to feed my dog?”.   The simple answer to this is, no less than 3 but the more the better!  A dogs digestive system has a memory of how it breaks down the molecular structure of different proteins so if you are only feeding 1 or 2 proteins it would be likely that the dog will get “stuck” or develop a sensitivity or allergy to these proteins.

Chicken is the most overfed protein there is for a multitude of reasons.  Some of them are cost, availability and the ease of feeding.  To be more specific; chicken is the cheapest protein there is right now, chicken is the easiest protein to find and all you have to do is feed it (very little prep if any).  Chicken also has a higher fat content and some people find it easier to keep weight on their dog feeding chicken.  Feeding too much poultry skin is not good for your dog and can cause pancreatitis.

The dogs digestive system has a memory so it is important to constantly be changing up the diet of your dog.  Remember when you started feeding and you would introduce one thing and let the system get used to it and then introduce another item…..but if you went back to the first item your dog had not issue wit hit because it’s system “remembered” it.

I personally try to incorporate a minimum of 5 different proteins into Ruger and Molly’s diets.  Since Ruger is a “Hot Dog” it is harder to accomplish this but we manage to do it.  Ruger’s main proteins are; salmon, rabbit, duck. turkey, beef and bison.  When I can find other proteins that aren’t “hot meats” I work them in but at least I manage to alternate these.  Molly, on the other hand, gets all the same proteins Ruger gets but she can also have chicken, lamb, venison and pheasant.

Just as I discussed in my “How to feed Organ” piece, it is important to mix up the organs that we feed but it is equally important to mix up the proteins we feed as our main sources of food if we want to avoid allergies and other health issues in our dogs.  Each protein source offers a different omega fatty acid structure as well as different vitamins and trace minerals.  To completely balance our dogs diets we must offer diet that will supply all the vitamins and minerals they would get in the wild if they were left to supply their own meals.  They would not “take down” or kill the same animal meal after meal after meal.  They would be eating a large variety of different protein sources in the wild and I can’t remember the last time I saw a fox, wolf or coyote with allergies!   :-)

As always I am available for questions or comments at

Mama Schrof