I’m always amazed at the obsession most people have about dog food protein.
Especially since protein isn’t even considered an “essential” nutrient.
Well, it’s the stuff protein is actually made of that’s considered essential… not the protein itself.
I’m talking about amino acids.
You see, amino acids are the basic building blocks of all protein.
Think of protein as a freight train… with each “car” of that train being an amino acid. It’s the kind of cars… as well as the order in which they are arranged… that makes each protein unique.
Ten Critical ‘Life-or-Death’ Nutrients
Every dog has the natural ability to make her own amino acids… except for ten very special ones… ten “essential” amino acids that absolutely must come from the diet.
Otherwise, a dog could suffer serious health consequences… or maybe even death.
These ten essential amino acids are…
So, What Happens When One Is Missing?
Proteins are manufactured by a dog’s cells in a step-by-step, assembly line fashion. If just one amino acid is lacking, the entire process shuts down.
This missing nutrient is known as the “limiting amino acid”. That’s because its absence “limits” the process from using any of the other available amino acids altogether.
So, every dog food must contain all ten.
Don’t Count Protein… Count Amino Acids
Now, trying to judge a dog food strictly by the amount of protein it contains can be very misleading.
You see, just because a dog food boasts a high protein percentage doesn’t mean it contains the right amino acids.
So, how can you improve the odds a product will meet a dog’s amino acid needs?
Well, remember… proteins are made completely from amino acids.
So, all you need to do is find a protein source rich in all ten essential nutrients… and you’ve got a quality ingredient.
The Best Sources of Essential Amino Acids
Now, generally speaking… animal-based protein sources contain a more favorable essential amino acid content… than non-animal sources.
But the right combination of vegetable proteins can also satisfy a dog’s amino acid needs.
The main thing to remember? Don’t fall in love with any dog food just because it reports a lot of protein in its Guaranteed Analysis.
Sure… a higher protein content usually indicates you’ve probably come across a better dog food… but only if you take the time to confirm the protein comes from a quality ingredient.