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What does Protein mean for dogs?

In this blog post, we sniff out what proteins are and their importance for your dog's health and vitality. Let us dig into the delicious world of protein for dogs.

What is a protein?

Proteins are large, complex molecules formed by chains of amino acids, known as the "building blocks of life". Their structural diversity allows them to perform various functions within the body and participate in many bodily functions, such as acting as enzymes and hormones. Protein supplies essential amino acids needed to grow and maintain cells and tissue. In addition, it serves as a secondary energy source while helping maintain fluid and acid-base balance, aiding in nutrient transport and immune response.

During the process of digestion, proteins are broken down into amino acids, which fuel various metabolic activities in the body. There are two types of amino acids: Essential and Non-essential. Dogs obtain the essential amino acids through their diet because their bodies cannot produce them.

Essential amino acids for dogs

Non-essential amino acids for dogs

Arginine: essential for removal of ammonia from body and synthesis of nitric oxide

Alanine: involved in glucose production and energy metabolism

Histidine: required for formation of histamine and carnosine, which have various physiological roles

Asparagine: plays a part in synthesis of glycoproteins and nucleotides

Isoleucine: plays a crucial role in energy regulation and protein synthesis

Aspartic Acid: important for the urea cycle and production of other amino acids

Leucine: important for protein synthesis and muscle growth

Cysteine: aids in formation of disulfide bonds in proteins and antioxidant production

Lysine: needed for protein synthesis and overall growth

Glutamine: essential for immune system function and intestinal health

Methionine: provides sulfur for various biochemical processes and is a precursor for other compounds

Glutamic Acid: acts as neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a role in energy production

Phenylalanine: precursor for synthesis of tyrosine and various neurotransmitters

Glycine: involved in synthesis of nucleic acids, bile acids, and collagen

Threonine: important for synthesis of proteins, mucin, and collagen

Proline: important for structure of collagen and elastin

Tryptophan: precursor for serotonin and melatonin, which regulate mood and sleep

Serine: required for synthesis of amino acids, nucleotides, and phospholipids

Valine: essential for muscle metabolism and tissue repair

Amino acid descriptions by Kabo: Written by Andrea Geiger, MSc - R&D Scientist and Companion Animal Nutritionist.

The importance of protein in a dog's diet

Protein plays a crucial role in supporting various physiological functions and helps maintain proper growth, development, and overall health throughout every stage of a dog's life. Protein provides secondary energy when carbohydrates and fats are insufficient or cannot be metabolised efficiently.

The functions of protein in a dog's diet

  1. Promotes muscle development and growth.

    1. Sufficient protein intake is essential for growing puppies and active adult dogs.

    2. Mature and senior dogs losing muscle mass may benefit from adequate protein intake to maintain strength and mobility.

  2. Healthy skin and coat.

    1. The skin is the largest organ in the body and has a high turnover rate.

    2. Almost 95% of dog's coat is made up of protein.

    3. Approximately 20-30% of protein consumed, primarily supports skin and coat health.

    4. Protein deficiency in dogs can have symptoms like a dull coat, rough skin and excessive shedding.

  3. Improved digestion.

    1. Protein-rich diets can aid digestion by providing amino acids to synthesize digestive enzymes, which ensures efficient nutrient absorption and helps maintain gastrointestinal health in dogs.

  4. Helps with weight management.

    1. Protein helps dogs feel fuller for longer, reducing hunger, and increasing metabolism.

    2. Its high thermic effect ensures more calories are expended during digestion, preserving lean muscle mass, essential for maintaining healthy body composition and metabolic rate.

  5. Supports immunity.

    1. The immune system relies on proteins to produce antibodies and immune cells, which defend against pathogens and infections. A protein-rich diet can strengthen a dog's immune response, helping them fight illness and stay healthy.

  6. Energy source.

    1. Protein provides secondary energy when carbohydrates and fats are insufficient or cannot be metabolised efficiently. Protein breaks down into amino acids, which can be converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis and provide energy to the body.

    2. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing sudden spikes and crashes. When a dog is in high energy expenditure situations, consuming protein can help maintain the dog's energy balance.

In conclusion, protein is a key component in dogs' diets and provides essential amino acids for cell growth, tissue maintenance, and energy. Dogs need to obtain essential amino acids through their diet, as their bodies cannot produce them.

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