Your dog's health requires exercise, good nutrition and lots of love. Regular checkups with your veterinarian will ensure that your dog will lead as healthy a live as he can. Just as you and are are always trying to reduce fat in our diets and promote greater muscle mass to increase metabolism, lower affects of arthritis and aging, your dog can benefit from eating foods that will help him build more muscles.
From Puppy to Senior
Food is a constant in your dog's life but for years veterinarians and scientists have worked on creating formulas for the various stages of your dog's life. Puppies historically have eaten foods with the highest protein content so they can build muscles and develop their vital organs properly. As dogs mature, their kidneys can sometimes have trouble processing diets of high protein. But that doesn't mean you should stop the meats and start strictly giving your dog broccoli for dinner. Active dogs, just like active humans, need protein to rebuild muscle at all stages of life.
Check With Your Vet
Diet affects your dog's health. While it is pretty commonly accepted to give puppies a high protein diet, older dogs should be checked by a vet before they are automatically given change in diet increasing their protein. You want to make sure that there are no underlying causes as to why your dog may be loosing muscle mass. For example, Cushing Disease affects the adrenal glands in dogs which affects corticosteriod production. If your dog has this and it goes untreated, your dog will happily consume more and more meat (increase in appetite is a common side effect) but will still lose muscle mass and definition in the face, and abdomen. On top of this, the increase of protein would be a larger risk to creating a kidney problem. Bottom line, always check with your vet to be sure what you are doing is in the best interest of your dog, not your neighbors!
Food to Build Muscle
Protein is the key ingredient for building muscle. As muscle mass breaks down from exercise or age, the protein needs to be replaced. Active dogs require more than inactive dogs, but all dogs can benefit from a high protein dog food or "pure meats" as some vets call them. These are unprocessed meats, prepared either raw or in a low fat, low sodium manner. Beef and chicken are ideal for this. Stay away from pork as it may contain a parasite that can transfer to your dog.
Vitamins for Fido
Omega Fatty Acids and Antioxidants can also help your dog to increase muscle mass, not because they help to build muscles. Instead, just as they do in us humans, they help reduce muscle damage and work as an anti-inflammatory. This is important for older dogs with arthritis who would otherwise remain lethargic. Reducing swelling can reduce pain, thus keeping them more active and using those muscles more. If they use it, they're less likely to lose it.
Regardless of what food you give your dog, an active lifestyle is the first component for building and maintaining healthy muscles. Get your dog out and let them play. Give them food that helps them rebuild what metabolism breaks down and always check with your vet when changing their diet, adding a supplement or any other major adjustment in your dog's life.