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Dog food / dog treat digestibility level of proteins means meat always wins.

dog food digestibility table

dog food digestibility table The reason dogs love meat, is that they have evolved from carnivores. The reason dogs NEED meat, is that it is the only source of high protein AND HIGH bioavailable food (ie that they can properly digest).

While dogs can tolerate vegetable foods, LOW digestibility (see table below) shows why MEAT should always be the MAIN food your dog eats – including supplements like Healthy Dog Treats. In fact the 30 % meat 70% grain/ vegetable mix SHOULD be reversed if anything … if it wasn’t for profit losses corporations would incur.

It is true that Vegan dog food exists and is a rising trend, but this is for the benefit of the owner philosophies and their beliefs NOT the health of the dogs.   Grain and vegetables are MUCH CHEAPER than meat or quality offal, and that is the ONLY reason that there is not MORE meat in dog food.

Dogs on a raw balance animal diet (meat, offal and bone) will always do better Healthwise and happiness wise (primal enjoyment of shredding meat) than any other diet. But this is a hard sell to the 97% of commercial dog food buyers out there that have mainly grain or vegetables as the protein source of their dog food.

Before we get onto the data below (rush ahead for the table if you must), lets consider the latest trends in dog food in America in 2019

“91 percent of responding vets identified grain free as the pet food trend they hear most about from their clients, with a sharp drop-off to other trends: raw, 4.76 percent; unusual protein sources, 2.38 percent; and homemade pet food, 1.59 percent. Ref 1

The reason for this is that pet food companies have identified as this being a cheap product that they could push that would appear to be healthier and more caring for their clients, without spending any more money on the product. A win-win or corporations – and a major loss for the dogs.

The reason being is that crushed and whole grains (depending on specific grain) can have similar levels of protein and digestibility as most of the vegetables that they are replacing the grain with in this twisted ‘grain free’ marketing. AND if it’s a normal grain or vegetable BOTH have a tiny fraction of the absolute level of protein that muscle meat (for dog food) has. This unfortunately means that going “Grain free” (unless your dog has a specific allergy to a specific grain), is just advertising spin, with no real increase in health benefits to your dog.

Health benefits will only be gained by increasing the quality meat percentage of your dog’s diet – such as with quality meat based Healthy Dog treats (such as ours).

We understand that if a person is not a business analyst or scientist (not working for a dog food company or getting gains from selling grain foods to dogs) then dog nutrition can be quite complex. And the vast amount of articles out there are either sponsored by or somehow contracted to tell you that grain is good. But just like Greed in the 90’s GRAIN or vegetables in your dog’s diet are NOT good – because they take the place of meat.  You can only feed your dog its daily energy intake with the total food you feed your dog. So much better sacrificing vegetables than the core food of meat.

Most people are not willing to learn raw meat feeding and how to safely purchase / freeze/ prepare truly complete and balanced dog diets (including addition of bones, Omega3, Omega 6 and possibly additional vitamins.  This is why 97% of Australians accept using the compromised but super Convenient COMMERCIAL dog food.

However perpetuating the falsehood that grain or vegetables are necessary or anywhere near as good as a protein source for a domestics dog (evolved form carnivore wolves) as MEAT should be stopped.

One simple visual to understand why vegetable matter is poor quality Dog “food” is digestibility chart below

Food digestibility for Dogs

The chart “compares the approximate digestibility of the more common dog food ingredients. Egg white protein is used as the benchmark, giving it a value of one (1) since it is so highly digestible. Other protein sources are then compared to egg whites regarding their digestibility.” Ref 1

Egg whites1.00
Muscle meats (chicken, beef, lamb).92
Organ meats (kidney, liver, heart).90
Milk, cheese.89

The original author or this table at petmd says “(Note: Values in table are approximate, as they have been taken from several nutrition sources and personal communications with nutrition experts.“

They go onto say “I could put together a “high protein” dog food where the protein is composed of an indigestible substance such as feathers, hide or hoofs. Sure, the protein level by analysis might be high (and even the experts don’t agree as to just what amount qualifies as “high” protein level in a food) but if the dog’s gastrointestinal tract is unable to break the protein molecules down into amino acids and then absorb and utilize those amino acids, the diet is worthless as a food source for the dog!   So “high protein” on the label means absolutely nothing; you’ve got to read the ingredients label to see if the source of protein is digestible.”  REF 2

Analysis of the dog food digestibility chart:

It is true that egg white is highly digestible for humans and dogs.  BUT that our research has shown that EGGS should be consumed whole by dogs (yolk and white) and only several times a week.  Noting that of course there is no restriction on meat intake for a dog.  Except for the rare genetic disorder of a handful of breeds that cant handle protein levels that all other dogs need.

The chart shows that muscle meat is much higher digestibility for a dog (92% of egg white typically) while all grains are much lower. This means that the body has to work much harder at extracting nutrients from the food, or much more food has to be added, which can cause obesity (as gram for gram meat protein and carbs have a similar energy value.  For instance, per 100g of dry meat, animal protein usually makes up about 60% of food, whereas if it’s a grain like wheat, the vegetable protein only accounts for approximately 10% of the total food.

The other enzyme and protein profile of meats means it is always going to be more species appropriate for domestic dogs.

healthy-happy-dogs The other advantages of quality meat based treats

Most of our products are 100% animal product (no preservative) as they are unneeded when dried correctly.  Whereas many commercial dog foods have a myriad of micro nutrients to try and make up for the poor quality of the bulk ingredients (vegetable based) and then they need preservative added.

“The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Official Publication lists 36 preservatives, some having no restrictions on amounts that can be mixed with the (dog)  food. Chemicals such as Ethoxyquin and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) have controversial reputations as to safety. Most experts will tell us they are safe, however, many pet owners would rather avoid chemical preservatives and instead use substances that don’t have murky reputations. Currently, pet food consumers have driven the popularity of more “natural” preservatives such as vitamin E or vitamin C.“

But why not use Grain free or gluten free dog food?

Mostly because “Grain free and gluten free pet diets have become extremely popular. This popularity has mirrored the appearance of similar products for people.”  Ref 3

There has been no spike in gluten intolerance in dogs – so this just a cynical money grab by the manufacturers.  Grain free NEVER means more meat protein, it just means substituting potatoes or pumpkin for grains, or other similarly low digestibility foods of low protein amounts.

Now it is true that most dogs can eat some level of grain.  They evolved to add amylase (that breaks down carbs) in their bodies, BUT evolution did not change the high acid stomach level or short intestine geared towards extracting nutrients from meat.

Why some manufacturers spin warnings about too much Protein in diets?

One article looks at the myths in the industry and this is one of them that they debunk “High protein diets are hard on your pet’s kidneys, especially as they age“ Too much protein story is completely false.

“This myth is a result of poor-quality food manufacturers. The truth is that high plant protein diets are hard on your pet’s organs; high animal protein diets aren’t only healthy for your aging pets, but essential. Poor quality, mass produced pet foods are packed with protein from soy and corn. Unfortunately, your dog and cat are unable to properly digest and assimilate these sources of protein. It lets the food manufacturer boost the protein content of the food without actually offering your pet any substantial protein they can use. High plant protein diets can put added strain on your pets because their bodies aren’t designed to process those ingredients. As they try to assimilate protein from these sources, their organs need to start working overtime.” Ref 4

“Animal protein is hugely important to our pets throughout their entire lives. High quality protein from actual meat sources contains important amino acids that your pets need to thrive.”  Ref 4

You will read for other sources that unless your dog is on a raw diet that is unbalanced, it will never actually get enough protein to do all of the functions that the dogs need.  Protein, like fats, will firstly be used in a dogs body for energy requirements of living.  ONLY then can they be used by the body for maintenance function of repairing issues and fighting diseases etc.

For dogs that are young or pregnant or dogs that have continual growing coats, protein is immensely important.

Do Dogs Need Fruits and Vegetables?

Ref 5 tells us that:

“Do dogs need fruits and vegetables to survive?  Are carbohydrates required for good canine health?  The answer is NOBoth the National Research Council and the Association of American Feed Control Officials confirmed this.  In a 2006 committee on Animal Nutrition, the NRC confirmed dogs have no nutritional requirements for carbohydrates.  In their 2010 Pet Food Nutrient Profiles, the AAFCO concluded carbohydrates are not essential to a healthy canine diet. Leading canine nutrition textbooks agree as well.“ Ref 5

And the obvious answer, besides nutritional needs is that “As facultative carnivores, dogs don’t have a physiological requirement for carbohydrates.” Either.


You may have guessed that we are pro meat for dogs.

You may have read that we sell a lot of 100% meat-based dog treats, to fulfil dog’s unmet nutritional needs.

You are likely to feed your dog a commercial dog food diet, heavy in grain or vegetables, but if they do not actually need grains or vegetables, if grains or vegetables are NOT BETTER for a dog than animal products (meat, offal and bones).  Why would any company let alone any owner feed their dogs second grade food ONLY?

We believe its purely the profit motive of profit-based dog food companies. For them to make profit from a dog food that is over 60% (instead of the current 30 – 40 %) would reduce their profits dramatically.  If they charged more say double what they sell their products are now, perhaps people would start making their own food.  And that is why you are never likely going to see adequate meat levels in affordable dog food ever.

There are plenty more technically descriptive articles out their describing the dog’s digestive system at length.  There is great evidence to suggest that while dogs can tolerate non-meat products, they thrive on animal-based products.

Dog food is a multi-billion-dollar industry, run by some of the corporate titans in the world. The top 5 account for over 80% of what is consumed by dogs in the world. And seeing that 97% of dog owners use commercial dog food in Australian, UK and America … mostly for convenience … as well as being TOLD that its good for their dog … well you can see that its easy to see where this societal group think originated from. From dog food sponsored vet schools, to celebrity vets bought lock stock and barrel forward the non-meat propaganda.

Making your own balanced animal-based dog food can be hard. Its not for everyone – just like a lot of people who love their dogs don’t go regularly to off lead dog parks. But there are simple fixes to this issue.

So if you are at all undecided about this whole revolution thing about evolution diets or whatever the big companies are branding it, just consider for a while where your dog came from (wolves) and that going back to that diet even the smallest amount, would be hugely beneficial.

If dogs evolved from Rabbits, I would be pushing a grain and veggie diet. But they didn’t.



1             Pet food industry report feb19 watt_peti_201902

2             Principles of Dog Nutrition – By T. J. Dunn, Jr., DVM  (site Petmd)

3     Is a Grain or Gluten Free Diet Right For my Dog?          Lorie Huston  (petmd site)

4             top-10-myths-about-pet-food-and-nutrition  –  onlynaturalpet site

5   Do Dogs Need Fruits and Vegetables?  (primalpooch site)

Dog Nutrition

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