Monday, October 22, 2012

Do You Feed Your Dog Rocket Fuel?

Rocket Fuel (noun):  An explosive charge that propels a rocket dog.

Crazy dog being propelled by rocket fuel
Recently I discovered that we have been feeding Athena rocket fuel (yes, the explosive stuff that propels energetic dogs to do crazy things!).  I bet you even fed your dog a bit of rocket fuel this morning for breakfast without even knowing it!  That's because rocket fuel is hiding in your bag of dog food.  Don't worry, we were shocked to find this out too.  But really, rocket fuel can be found in EVERY bag of dog food (no matter how fancy) and is hiding behind the "protein" label.

Since beginning Athena's new training class, we have learned that the food we were feeding Athena could actually be the culprit behind some of her mega zoomies and crazy energy.  Our trainer quickly introduced us to the concept of feeding a dog rocket fuel when we told her that Athena often gets some intense bursts of energy after each of her feedings.  She explained that when a dog eats a bowl of high protein food A.K.A. rocket fuel, explosive energy may follow soon after.

Just say no to too much rocket fuel!
As novice dog owners we had read somewhere that a high protein food is good for dogs.  So, before picking up Athena from the shelter, we went to PetSmart and picked out the highest protein food that we could find.  This happened to be Blue Buffalo Wilderness with 34% protein which we have been feeding to Athena for the past three months.


When we told this to the trainer she gave us this little fact: "unless you are raising a working dog for a farm, dog sledding, or some sort of search and rescue, she doesn't need more than 24% protein in her food."  Whoopsies.  Athena is surely not a working dog!  Our trainer proceeded to explain that sometimes dogs who eat a high protein food and aren't out working all day will have extra energy that they don't necessarily need as a domestic house dog.  This excessive energy can translate into behavioral issues for dogs who are already energetic (like Athena).

She suggested that we take Athena off from such a high protein food to see if it might help with her rocket fuel syndrome (i.e. too much energy for her own good).  So, we recently made the switch to Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet with 21% protein.


It has been three weeks now since making the food switch (we are still trying to deplete our bag of Blue Buffalo and therefore Athena gets a mixture of both the old and new food).  Feeding her less rocket fuel as well as eliminating her food bowl have made all the difference in her energy level.  We have noticed that Athena has begun to actually take on the role of "lazy house dog" and we have even been able to cut back on the amount of physical exercise that she receives each day.

Embracing my role as lazy house dog
Disclaimer: This isn't to say that your dog's high energy levels are necessarily caused by the protein level in his or her food, because there is actually evidence out there that suggests that dog food labels aren't always very accurate.  So, maybe this whole rocket fuel thing is in our heads and we just assume that Athena's energy has decreased due to the food switch?!  Whatever the cause is, we sure do like it!

If you are into doing some further reading about protein levels in dog food, do a little Google search for "high protein and dog aggression."  Verrrrrry interesting.

What information do you check on dog food labels?  Have you ever made a food switch based on something you discovered?

28 comments:

  1. We just switched our dogs' food too... it remains to be seen if it will help with Polly's crazy energy!

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    1. What did you end up switching to? I hope it helps Miss Polly!

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  2. Whenever we think about switching Ray's food I check out the dog food advisor for rating and analysis on the contents. Pretty interesting reading as well as keeping me informed on all the latest recalls, of which there seem to be many. I try to keep in the four to five star range for his food. Right now he is on Nutro Ultra large breed puppy food which comes in at 4 stars and 28% protein but I need to make a decision soon on what adult food he will be eating so I can start introducing it. I've found that he needs a pretty good dose of grains (not corn or glutens) and fruits and veggies to stay happy and healthy.

    I'll be intrested in the verdict on the Natural Balance!

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    1. I have looked at the food advisor website before and they give some great information. We will keep you updated on how Athena is doing on Natural Balance!! But so far, so good!

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  3. Good to know! I just checked the protein content of our food, and it's around 22%, which should be good for our non-working dogs.

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    1. Yes, 22% sounds about right for a non-working dog =)

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  4. Another thing to consider is the concept of warm vs cool foods a la Chinese medicine. Chicken, Turkey, and most Fish are all cool foods and Lamb and Venison are warm foods. The way those foods influence our body, they can also influence behavior - cool foods being recommended for high energy dogs to help curb their activity level. I also recommend looking at low glycemic foods - potatoes & white rice can do a lot to fuel sugar spikes and the zoomies, whereas sweet potatoes and brown rice are more moderate on the glycemic scale and less likely to cause spikes in energy and activity levels.

    I think the most comprehensive way to evaluate how food affects behavior is to consider protein level, protein type & where the starches fall on the glycemic index. You can go with a higher protein food if you pay attention to the other qualities of the food. Though I do agree with your trainer that foods in excess of 30% protein are over-kill for most dogs.

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    1. You always know all of the good things to consider about dog food! I have never heard of the concept of warm vs. cool foods, but it sounds like something I should look into!

      Thanks for sharing about the glycemic index within foods....that is also something that I need to look more into!

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  5. I think I should go and look at Boomer and Dottie's food label now!

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  6. SUCH an interesting post - specifically the piece about crude protien and dog agression. I've been feeding G a grain free diet, but it has 34% crude protien (yelp!).

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    1. And I think we're going to switch our food, too!

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    2. I found the correlation between high protein food and dog aggression to be interesting. There are many studies that have been done about it. Obviously high protein isn't always the cause for aggression, but it's definitely something to consider if you are having those issues!

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  7. Wow, this is the most interesting thing I've learned about dog food lately, and compared to most people I know, I consider myself a dog food expert! I also thought the higher the protein content the better.
    My dogs are ultra lazy (or normal activity level,) so I'm not worried about that, but that's good information if I ever end up with a super high energy pup! Taylor is, but her food is donated so that's luck of the draw anyway.
    I actually was giving Natural Balance and then switched to Taste of the Wild because I thought the protein wasn't suffiecient. Well look at that! Interesting indeed!

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    1. Well I'm glad that you enjoyed the information! There's definitely so much that goes into considering dog foods, sometimes it can be overwhelming!

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  8. Hmm... Don't really believe the protein/aggression thing. That's a little bit too much reaching, in my opinion. I think breed/genetic propensity has a LOT to do with energy requirements, maybe even more so than feeding. And I absolutely believe that too much energy that isn't used can make a dog crazy.

    People are always on top of raw feeding as if you're feeding "too much" protein. When really, Elli doesn't get more than 12-15% on any given day. And even she'll go crazy if she doesn't have an outlet.

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    1. Yeah, the protein/aggression thing can seem like a stretch, but there are some very detailed studies out there that suggest that some aggression can actually be caused by a high protein diet. Definitely not the case for all aggression though, just thought I'd share the correlation because it has come up in many of my google searches about high protein food =)

      We know that Athena's breed is high energy and at her age ( 1 1/2) she still has a lot of puppy energy and behaviors. We have found the switch of food and the use of food dispensing toys to really help her to have a more constant energy throughout the day where she is getting out her excess energy during appropriate times (playing fetch, out on walks, playing with toys) rather than having bursts of energy 20 minutes after each a meal resulting in crazy bitey zoomies!

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  9. Hmmm... We switched to Wellness Core a few months ago, which Monty is eating reliably. It has 34% protein but we haven't noticed any zoomies going on!

    Sam

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    1. I have heard that Wellness Core is a great food! I'm glad that the higher protein food is working for you, I know that it is not always the cause of extra energy!

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  10. I just think my dog is crazy...he was on 28% and bumped up to 34% no real reason other then I wasn't paying attention to what I grabbed off the shelf but he is a hunting dog. We switched from what the breeder told us to feed (Iams) to Nutro or Wilderness only because GSPs tend to have allergies to grains.

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  11. Interesting post! Never thought of it that way. I wonder how this comes into play in raw diets which are all protein? Maybe it breaks down differently than kibble proteins. Or maybe there are a lot of psycho dogs out there on raw diets, lol.

    I've given my dogs both those brands and haven't noticed a difference in their energy levels, maybe it depends on the dog. Kaya's food - nature's instinct raw boost is high at 35% but I have given her the chicken kind a few times which is 42%! But they do run off leash every day so maybe they burn it off! We need a farm to match our food:D

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  12. High protein diets can be really hard on the kidneys, and dry diets like kibble are hard on the kidneys as well because of the lack of water (soaking the kibble in an equal amount of water before feeding can help). As a comparison, a raw diet consisting of 80% meat, 10% edible bone and 10% organs is generally in the 18-24% protein range. What this means to me is that kibbles that are 30+% protein are really hard on a dog's body, and not natural.

    I would, however, think that carbohydrates are more of a cause of the puppy crazies (as I call the energy bursts) than protein. In fact, since starting feeding raw, my dogs don't do the crazy sudden bursts of zoomies around the house or yard- they save that for play time and mellow out in the house.

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