What Are Lean Proteins and How They Can Help Your Pet

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 24, 2012

Lean, Mean Pet Proteins

Protein is an important component in your pet's food. Dogs and cats need it to form new skin cells, build muscle tissue, and even grow hair. Protein also provides energy and keeps the immune system strong. But not all proteins are the same. Take lean proteins, for instance. Lean proteins are low in calories and yet rich in essential amino acids.

What Are Proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are important to the overall health of our pets. And unlike fat and other nutrients, the body can't store up protein. In order to obtain the necessary amount of protein it has to be supplied in the daily diet. Depending on your pet's age and activity level, protein needs will vary.

So then, what are lean proteins? Lean proteins are just foods that are lower in calories than other traditional sources. Some of the most common sources of lean protein include…


Whitefish is a tasty source of lean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs and cats. These amino acids help pets convert fat into the energy needed for burning calories. White fish also contains calcium, phosphorous and B-complex vitamins. Look for foods containing whitefish like haddock, cod, trout, and tilapia, or buy these fishes and cook them at home for your dog.

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast, so long as it is boneless and skinless, is another lean protein for pets. It contains vitamins and minerals as well as amino acids. This will promote good health and boost your pet's immune system as well as help with any weight loss program. Just make sure the chicken is cooked, as raw chicken may expose your pet to Salmonella or other bacteria.

Lean Ground Beef

Lean ground beef (or hamburger) is a third lean protein commonly given to pets. Rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins, lean ground beef is also an excellent diet food for pets. It too, however, should be consumed cooked. Raw meat may contain bacteria that could be harmful to your pet.

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