Nutrition For Dogs And Cats: Protein Requirements

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Nutrition For Dogs And Cats: Protein Requirements
Nutrition For Dogs And Cats: Protein Requirements

Video: Nutrition For Dogs And Cats: Protein Requirements

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Video: Introduction to Dog Nutrition | Body Condition and Calculating Energy Requirements 2023, February

Proteins are the building blocks of an animal's body. Protein is one of the most important nutrients in the diet, and is also a frequent subject of controversy and debate.

For 20 millennia in dogs and several million years in canines, wolves have had one problem - getting enough protein. Dogs mainly eat meat, which largely meets their protein requirements. In addition to meat, they also receive a certain amount of fat, fiber and carbohydrates, but meat is in the first place in their diet. The same can be said for cats, adding only that they are even stricter meat eaters and do not consume carbohydrates.

Dog eating hamburger, photo photo
Dog eating hamburger, photo photo

The protein debate began after World War II, when commercial feeds became more readily available and began to replace traditional meats and meat by-products from animal diets. Initially, cheaper meat leftovers were used to make feed, with little added flavor. But when dog health became directly linked to diet, a whole generation of new pet foods were launched on the market. These quality feeds have challenged earlier forms. Protein, sources, digestibility, and quality are at the center of the discussion on these new products. Hopefully, this article will answer some of your questions regarding protein in your pet's diet.

Amino acids. Why do dogs and cats need protein? It is essential for their growth and development and the normal functioning of the immune system. In addition, the body receives calories from proteins, and proteins can be converted to fats and stored in the body.

In fact, our animals do not need proteins, but the building blocks of which they are composed - amino acids. There are 22 amino acids in total that are essential for animals. The animal body can synthesize 12 of them. The rest must be ingested with food. Those amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the animal body are called essential. These are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, and in cats, taurine. Dogs can synthesize taurine, so it is not included in their diet. This is the meaning of the old adage that dogs can eat cat food, but cats cannot eat dog food. A lack of any amino acid in the body can cause health problems.

The biological value of protein. All protein sources contain different amino acids and all proteins differ from each other in their ability to break down into amino acids. So not all proteins are created equal. Some are better suited to animals than others. The ability of a protein to be assimilated by the body and the amount of assimilated amino acids add up to the quality of the protein (biological value). The egg has the highest biological value and serves as the standard against which the value of other foods is measured. The biological value of an egg is taken as 100. Fish and milk are close to it and have a value of 92. The value of beef is 78, and soy meat is 67. The value of bone meal and grain is about 50, and corn is 45. Hair and feathers contain a large amount of protein, but in terms of biological value, they are at the very bottom of the list.

Protein requirements. Protein needs differ from species to species. Protein intake is also influenced by the age of the animal or kidney disease. There are some special circumstances that require increased protein levels, but generally the following should be observed:

Kittens are recommended 30% protein and 20% fat, and adult cats 25-30% protein and 15-20% fat.

Pregnant and lactating cats should be fed with kitten food as it contains a higher amount of protein.

Sick, weak and malnourished animals also require increased amounts of protein.

Animals with kidney disease should limit their protein intake, but they should be offered a diet of high bioavailability foods to reduce the appearance of kidney disease.

Is there a protein overdose? The answer to this question can be yes or no. In theory, if a healthy animal eats too much protein, the excess will be excreted in the urine, and the rest will be used as calories or processed into fat and will not harm the body. But some research suggests that giving your pet too much protein all the time can be overwhelming for the kidneys. Another factor is that protein is the most expensive feed ingredient, why would you pay more than you need to?

Biscuits for dogs, dog food, photo photography
Biscuits for dogs, dog food, photo photography

How to read the label on a pack of food. This is not an easy task. You have two options. First, you can buy quality food from a reputable company that suits your cat (dog) and hope that it will meet all of your pet's needs. But if you have a cat that needs a special approach to feeding protein, or you want to find the best food that matches the money that you are willing to pay for it, then you should dive into the study of the label and learn from it. understand.

If you've read this far, then you know that not all proteins are the same. The label indicates the percentage of protein in the feed, which does not correspond to its digestibility. We know that high-quality feed is absorbed by 70-80%, feed of lower quality - by 60% or less.

Of course, the digestibility of feed is not determined in a very scientific way, but this is the best we have today, until companies started printing the percentage of feed digestion on the label. By reading the list of incoming ingredients and noting in which order they go, we can roughly determine digestibility. Ingredients appear in order of weight. If chicken or lamb comes first, we can conclude that this is a good source of protein. Chicken or organ meats are not as good, but acceptable. The bone meal is worse.

If grains are listed, they are not a source of digestible protein and are added as a source of carbohydrates. Some expensive foods are not necessarily the best, and even less often cheap foods are of good quality. Protein is a very important part of your dog's and cat's diet. Most high quality feeds provide normal protein requirements for an animal at various stages of development. Animals need different amounts of protein at different stages, so feed it properly. Take a close look at the food label and make sure you get what you pay for.

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