Any pet owner can tell you that a healthy amount of protein is essential for a dog's diet. From helping them build necessary muscle strength during those puppy years, to keeping them lean and strong through adulthood and into old age, there is no denying that protein is a must. With the way protein repairs and maintains essential functions in the body, feeding your dog a sufficient amount of protein is a pivotal part of ensuring they develop optimally, no matter their breed, size, or lifestyle.
But what many of us overlook is that there are numerous types of proteins that dog food manufacturers include in their products. While they can all play an important part in your best friend's growth, some are undeniably less effective than others, and you might not even realise if you've been giving your pup a less efficient protein.
With this in mind, we'll be looking at the key differences between two types of proteins: animal proteins and plant proteins, and why you'll want to be sure that the next meal you feed your pooch uses animal proteins.
Why animal protein?
From the greatest Great Danes to the most petite Chihuahua in the pack, all dogs evolved from the same ancestor: wolves. While you might not think that a sweet, gentle beagle could have much in common with something as ferocious as a wolf, the similarities run a lot deeper than we realise. On a genetic level, dogs are predisposed to crave animal proteins, just as wolves do, and a healthy dose of protein makes their meals that much more satisfying. While pet foods that use plant proteins can still be tasty, they can't quite offer the same nutritional profile as animal proteins. Due to a dog’s genetic history, their digestive system is far better equipped to manage the intake of animal proteins than they are for plant proteins. Therefore, animal protein is far gentler on their tummy than it would be otherwise, and does a stellar job of helping to prevent issues such as diarrhoea and constipation.
This genetic predisposition isn't the only consideration, however, as not all proteins are the same. Plant-based proteins, sadly, lack certain types of amino acids such as methionine, tryptophan, taurine, and isoleucine. These amino acids are an essential part of a healthy diet, and, while your pup's body can produce certain amino acids naturally, these particularly vital ones can only be sourced through their diet. Thankfully, animal proteins are rich in these essential amino acids, promoting positive health and lowering the risk of injury and sickness. For this reason, animal proteins are known as complete sources of protein, as they contain every essential amino acid that your best friend's body needs to function effectively.
As plant based proteins lack certain amino acids, they are not considered an adequate source of protein, and to ensure that your pups are getting all the amino acids they need, their diets will need to be supplemented with foods that do contain these amino acids.
But it's not just amino acids. Animal proteins also contain much higher quantities of certain nutrients than plant-based proteins. These include Vitamin B12 (which promotes positive brain health), Vitamin D (which helps your pup's bones and teeth stay healthy, as well as supporting the immune system), DHA (an example of a 'good fat' that helps promote cognitive development), Heme-iron, and Zinc. While some of these nutrients can be found in plant proteins, dogs have a much easier time absorbing them from animal proteins, allowing their bodies to make use of them far more effectively. This leads to higher energy levels, positive brain activity, and numerous other incredible benefits for your little buddy.
So, how do you know if a meal contains animal proteins? It's simple. Just keep an eye open for meals that list ingredients such as chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. Also make sure that whichever pet food brand you choose carefully balances protein content, as too much can lead to digestive issues, while too little can affect muscle development negatively.
Eukanuba knows how valuable animal proteins can be, and how the right balance thereof can ensure that your pup is getting the very best in pet nutrition. In building up and fuelling your best friend's body and mind, you can rest easy knowing that they'll grow up happy and healthy, the Eukanuba way.
Make the change today; browse Eukanuba's protein-powered range of meals for dogs of all breeds, ages, sizes, and lifestyles, on ZUKi.