Your Pet and Protein

Pet friends
  • 30 March 2017
  • Pet Wants

Like a human, a pet requires balanced protein for good nutrition. Protein is necessary for proper muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. It also provides energy and support for a healthy immune system.

Understanding Dogs and Cats’ Need for Protein

Dogs and cats have shorter digestive tracts for their body size than many other animals like pigs, horses, or cows. This means the protein sources they consume must be highly digestible. Protein from animal sources provides the necessary protein your pet needs, as well as essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Dogs require 10 essential amino acids in their diet, while cats require 11 (they also need taurine). Essential amino acids must come from the diet as dogs and cats cannot produce them naturally. Cats are obligate carnivores and require more protein than dogs. Having more meat in their diet not only helps promote a healthier diet, but also is provides the taste dogs and cats love. Unlike carbohydrates, protein is not stored as fat. By providing higher amounts of quality protein, the pet’s diet will contain less carbohydrates, which may contribute to a healthier weight.

Not All Ingredients Are the Same

Many dog food companies rely on higher amounts of carbohydrates for protein. While it sounds odd, corn, peas, and other carbohydrates are often the major source of “protein” in pet foods. Large amounts of carbohydrates are less digestible than meat sources, and have a less complete amino acid profile compared to meat sources. Focusing on protein from meat, and having healthy carbohydrates, is key to a nutritious, complete diet. High carbohydrate, low-quality diets generally contain fillers that dogs and cats cannot digest very well. These empty calories fill their gut but do not add very much nutrition and are more calorically dense instead of nutrient dense.

It can be frustrating to look at popular brands and see ingredients that are less than ideal for a dog or cat. When looking for a quality pet food keep two key points in mind.

First, look for the first ingredient to be a meat, such as turkey or lamb meal. High-quality meals are packed with great protein and essential amino acids your pet needs and utilizes better than other sources such as corn or soy. High-quality ingredients are more digestible and may lead to healthier skin, coat, and less waste.

Secondly, look at how fresh the food is. Nutritional quality degrades over time. Many pet food companies add harsh artificial preservatives such as BHA or ethoxyquin. These can have side effects and are less than ideal compared to natural preservatives such as vitamin E or rosemary extract.

If you want to feed your pet food from a company that’s truly committed to great nutrition and freshness, be sure to look at the wholesome ingredients we use in our great Pet Wants food formulas.

For more information about pet nutrition, or to try one of our formulas, please contact Pet Wants Northern Westchester at: (914) 471-0188