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What is Crude Protein and how it is Measured?

What is Crude Protein and how it is Measured?

Ever seen “crude protein” on a dog food label? When it comes to ingredients or products, when we see the word crude we think of the item in its natural state. For example, crude oil is unrefined petroleum as it comes out of the earth. So, seeing the word crude on our dog food label must be a good thing right? Something to watch for because protein in its natural form sounds pretty good. Especially since labels with crude protein listed often have high percentages, 27 – 32 percent is common.

HOWEVER (seems like there is always one of these when it comes to dog food labels, doesn’t it?), crude protein may not be giving you the information you think it is AND that means you may be paying a lot of money for something that is not what it seems.

When it comes to proteins in dog food, it’s not only the percentage but the quality of that protein that matters to your dog.

High quality protein from muscle meat is the most expensive ingredient in dog food. This means a lot of dog food companies try and find ways around using this as their main ingredient or source of nutrition. Again, this would make you think that seeing the words “crude protein” with a high percent next to it, would be a good thing. It’s actually the opposite.


Crude protein is a measure of all the protein in the food through a chemical analysis that measures the amount of nitrogen present as a way of estimating the protein content. The problem? The nitrogen can be from the meat, yes, but also grains (non-animal proteins like gluten) and even sources that are not protein at all (Like Melamine). What does this mean? It means that while the label may say “crude protein 32 percent,” the amount of real animal meat protein could be much less. Especially, if the food is full of grains.

Even worse, in the past, companies that were using this term to fool consumers were adding melamine (a toxin) to their dog food as a non-protein source of nitrogen, just to boost that percentage!

Crude protein can have protein from anything that has nitrogen in it – this includes meat, but also plant material, feathers, beaks, even old boot leather etc. You may be thinking protein is protein, but for dogs, meat is a more easily digested protein, meaning your dog is getting more of the nutrients he needs. Meat also include important amino acids that other protein sources do not.

Stay Loyal’s original formula has protein content of 32% that is made up of 79 percent meat and 21 percent plants (peas and beans). The salmon and turkey formula has a protein content of 32% that is made up of 82 percent meat and 18 percent plant protein. More information about Stay Loyal dog food ingredients, read here.

So when buying your dog food check the protein levels are over 28% but also have mostly meat as the protein source.



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