Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Proteins in your pet’s body (and our bodies) are key to various critical functions. For example, proteins serve as catalysts, transport other molecules, act as storage units of vital elements, major components of the immune system which defends the body against illness, make up muscle fibers and provide structural support.1
Some proteins are synthesized in your pet’s body by amino acids while others must be provided by your pet’s diet. The domestic dog is believed to be a descendant of wolves who were carnivorous predators. Wolves would seek larger prey in order to provide themselves with a greater source of protein.2 Their diets must provide enough protein to replenish the amino acids lost in daily activity, such as the functions listed above.3 Without sufficient protein or amino acids, a wolf would be more likely to succumb to disease or less likely to recover from trauma or starvation. Today’s domesticated dog has similar dietary needs that are commonly fulfilled by commercial pet foods.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has established that dog foods provide 22% DM4 protein for growth and at least 18% DM protein for maintenance.5Adequate amounts of dietary protein for your dog will nurture his/her health on the inside and outside. Your dog’s metabolism and various organ systems will run smoothly on the inside while his/her outer appearance will be at its best. Collagen and elastin, both fundamental in healthy skin and fur, are strengthened by protein. These will enhance the shine and attractiveness of your pet’s coat. Proteins also contribute to muscle tone.
Feeding a healthy dog above the recommended protein amount will not result in true toxicity. Healthy dogs will be able to metabolize and excrete the excess.6 If your dog has a history of illness or requires other considerations, please consult your veterinarian to develop the proper diet for your pet.
Lilly Ock, DVM
1. Textbook of Veterinary Physiological Chemistry, Larry R. Engelking, PhD, Teton NewMedia, 2004. Pp. 4-5.
3. Pocket Companion to Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th Edition. Michael S. Hand, DVM, PhD and Bruce J. Novotny, DVM, Mark Morris Institute, 2002. Pp. 31-33.
4. DM (dry matter) refers to the weight of a food after the water content is subtracted.
5. Pocket Companion to Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th Edition. Michael S. Hand, DVM, PhD and Bruce J. Novotny, DVM, Mark Morris Institute, 2002. Pp. 33-34.
6. Pocket Companion to Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th Edition. Michael S. Hand, DVM, PhD and Bruce J. Novotny, DVM, Mark Morris Institute, 2002. P. 34.