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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been trying several foods in the past couple months with my 10 month old Cooper trying to find what works best with him. Through this, i found out he needs something grain-free. That has limited my options, especially since price is a concern. I had him on TOTW prairie, which is 32% protein, but he ended up refusing to eat it after a week or two. I've transitioned him to Natural balance Venison formula, which he seems to really enjoy. Problem is, protein is only 20%.

So, anyways, is 20% too low? Like i mentioned, he is only 10 months old and still filling out.

Thanks
 

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That's a tough question to answer as there are many opinions on this subject. Many dogs do just fine on 20% protein. Others have issues with muscle loss and energy, so it depends on the dog. If he is doing well on the Natural Balance, I'd be inclined to increase the protein by giving him an egg a couple of times a week, or adding fresh meat (or the Wellness canned 95% meat) to his kibble, assuming he's not allergic to these things. BTW, my Brady is on California Natural lamb and rice for his allergies...it is 22% protein and he is filling out and building muscle just fine.
 

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I like at LEAST upper 20's for Tysen. I had him on California Natural (which is at like 22 or 23) and he lost some of his muscle. I switched him to Healthwise which has about 27% protein and he regained the muscle that he lost and is continuing to fill out.
 

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I believe that 20% protein is the lowest acceptable level listed by AAFCO. Typically, lowest levels aren't what a dog thrives best on. A 10 month old pup still has developing to do, and protein and fat are the building blocks.

You say your dog needs grain-free, but that cost is a factor too. Both TOTW and Natural Balance have pretty low calorie count compared to most grain-free formulas. That means you're having to feed more cups and using up a bag faster than a grain-free food that has more calories.

Have you looked at Canidae's All Life Stages Grain Free formula? It has 490 kcal/cup compared to TOTW 370 kcal/cup. You may find that the price difference isn't as great as it first seems since you would feed less.
 

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Each dog is individual and is really at their person's discretion in finding the right food and amount thereof (which mostly takes diligent feeding, observation and tweaking). As a starting point, there's an often (here) referenced study from a reputable University that specifies that dogs (on average) need a daily amount of approximately 1 gram of digestable protein per pound of their ideal body weight (i.e. if your dog should weight 60 pounds, feed 60 digestable grams of protein per day). If your dog likes and is doing well on Natural Balance, find out the feeding amount it would take to achieve such. If this food doesn't alone meet the criteria without having to feed a ridiculous amount of calories (say over 290 calories per every 15 pounds of dog), simply supplement/balance the difference with one of the 95+% canned meat formulas such as Wellness Core or Naturapet EVO (I would advise against simply adding homemade protein sources at this stage as your pup is still growing/developing and proper calcium is especially important).
 

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20% is pretty low especially for a puppy. Around 24-25% is ideal for most puppies.
Do you know if all grains bother him or certain things? What was he on when you realized there was a problem with grains?
Fromm makes a grain free Surf & Turf that is 30% protein. You actually have to use less than Natural Balance to get the amount/weight. You have to buy it at certain places, but much cheaper than Wellness/Evo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
He was having stool problems on several good quality foods (CN and Wellness) and when i switched to grain-free, they went away. I'm not sure what specifically doesn't agree with him though. The store around me does carry Fromm, but i was hesitant to try it because he doesn't seem to be a big fan of fish.

So far he's doing really well (digestive wise) on Natural Balance and he likes the taste. What can I safely/easily add to his food to help out in the protein department?
 

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So far he's doing really well (digestive wise) on Natural Balance and he likes the taste. What can I safely/easily add to his food to help out in the protein department?
There are some balanced 95% meat canned formulas on the market that have different animal sources you can choose between (these appear to have deceptively low protein contents but once you convert that amount to dry matter, it's quite high, usually in the 50ish% range, so you would need to feed very little of this protein supplement to reach that mid 20% total protein).
 
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