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Choosing The Right Protein For Your Dog

We’re breaking down the different proteins to help pet parents understand the options for their dogs.

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With so many proteins and recipes to choose from these days, it can be difficult to select which is best for your dog’s individual needs. We’re breaking down the different proteins to help pet parents understand the options for their dogs.

The good news is, all Stella & Chewy’s dog food recipes are formulated by an animal nutritionist and thoroughly reviewed by our cooperating team of veterinarians to provide complete and balanced nutrition. This includes appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and other required nutrients for your dog, so no protein is the wrong choice. We responsibly source all of our animal proteins and our meats are always grass-fed, cage-free, wild-caught or farm-raised and free of any added antibiotics or hormones. We use the world’s finest and safest ingredients and source red meats from North America, Australia and New Zealand, poultry from North America and Europe, fish from North America, rabbit from Western Europe and North America, and pork from the USA. Stella & Chewy’s is committed to using high-quality meats from suppliers we know and trust who believe in the humane treatment of their animals.

Chicken

Chicken is high in protein, low in fat, and has the highest bioavailability (meaning it’s the most digestible) out of all meats, making it a great option for first transitioning to a new food or for dogs with sensitive stomachs. However, it is also one of the most common allergies among dogs so it’s important to rotate proteins every few weeks or months to lower your dog’s chances of developing an allergy or intolerance. Chicken helps build lean muscle mass, is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids for shiny coat, and naturally contains glucosamine which is important for hip and joint support and bone health.

Beef

Beef is protein-rich and higher in fat than poultry and fish. Beef is packed with nutrients and essential amino acids to help your dog thrive, but is also a common allergy.

Duck

A rich-tasting, lean protein that is a good option to try for picky eaters. Duck digests well and helps support lean muscle mass. Duck can serve as an alternative to dogs with chicken or other meat allergies.

Turkey

High protein, low fat, and low calories make turkey stand out for less active or overweight dogs. Turkey is rich in nutrients, helps build muscle mass, and can be good alternative for dogs with chicken or other protein allergies. Just like chicken and duck, turkey is a highly digestible meat.

Lamb

Lamb is full of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support whole body health and is a good source of healthy fats to give your dog energy.

Salmon, Whitefish, Cod & Other Fish

High protein, low fat and packed with vitamins and minerals. Fish-based recipes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and oils that promote healthy skin and shiny fur, along with containing anti-inflammatory properties. For a dog with dry, itchy skin or a dull coat, fish is a smart protein choice.

Venison

A more expensive red meat but a novel protein option that can help with managing allergies. Venison provides a good protein source while being lower in fat than beef and lamb.

Pork

Another more expensive red meat that serves as a good novel protein for allergic dogs. Pork is high-protein and nutrient-rich for healthy, strong muscles but higher in fat than other meats.

Rabbit

A novel protein source that is helpful when dealing with sensitive or allergic dogs. Rabbit is a lean meat that is high in protein and low in fat. Rabbit provides a great source of vitamin B12 that helps with energy levels and healthy fats that support joint health and a nice coat.

If you’ve ever heard the terms “cooling” or “warming” when talking about proteins, this can also influence your protein selection based on your dog. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that every food has properties and actions in terms of how they affect the balance of the idea. The TCM food energy theory divides foods into cooling (Yin), warming (Yang), and neutral with the idea that hot or cool pets should be fed opposite foods in order to dampen any negative effects on their bodies.

Cooling proteins

Which include rabbit, duck, and cod – are good for pets who are “hot.” These pets will often seek out cool places, may be warm to the touch, may pant at inappropriate times, and may have red skin/eyes. These proteins are also a good option for most animals with allergies.

Warming/hot proteins

Including turkey, chicken, lamb, and venison, are good for pets who are “cold.” These animals show signs of lethargy, weakness, exercise intolerance, poor appetite, shortness of breath, slow movement, and laziness. These pets often seek out warm places and may have stiffness or joint pain.

Neutral proteins

Including beef, goose, and salmon, can be used in combination with other types of foods to add variety and choice or to decrease the harshness of a very cold or very hot diet. These proteins are generally acceptable for pets without hot or cold sensitivities.

It’s never one size fits all when it comes to diet and it’s important to understand your dog’s individual needs based on their life stage, weight, activity level, and overall health. Puppies, large breed or active/working dogs may require more fat and protein in the diet, while older, smaller or less active dogs could benefit from leaner meats. When feeding a raw diet, we recommend rotating proteins every 2-6 weeks to keep protein-based allergies/intolerances at bay while keeping mealtimes exciting and new. Depending on your dog’s sensitivity to change, you may need to transition slowly between recipes, though many dogs can handle seamless changes.


Always consult with your veterinarian to determine what is nutritionally best for your pet and contact our customer service team at info@stellaandchewys.com or 888-477-8977 with any questions.

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Dog