What are the essential amino acids for dogs as identified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)?

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There are ten essential amino acids needed from dog food. An essential amino acid is simply one that cannot be synthesized in the body so, while your dog needs a total of 23 amino acids, she can manufacture 13 of them on her own.
The ten that come from diet are critical—and these are called “essential amino acids, because when an essential amino acid is missing, the entire cellular process (where protein is made) shuts down.
It’s best to feed your dog a high quality food with the “complete and balanced” reference by AAFCO on the label:

• Histidine
• Valine
• Arginine
• Leucine
• Methionine
• Isoleucine
• Lysine
• Phenylalanine
• Tryptophan
• Threonine.


Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and all dogs need protein in their diets; without protein and its amino acids a puppy could not survive past weaning. Amino acids and protein are responsible for growth and all bodily functions.
Muscles, for example, are made from amino acids, and amino acid complexes, especially those containing B vitamins, are a good way to add high-quality protein to your dog’s diet. Use a formulation especially for dogs; human formulations can contain ingredients your dog can’t use and might upset her digestive system.
Dogs need amino acids derived from meat and animal protein; vegetarian diets for dogs must have these amino acids added as supplements.
Simply because a food is high in protein does not mean it contains all the essential amino acids required by a dog. Whole eggs are considered a very complete protein. Fish, beef and bone meal, soybeans and wheat are also rich sources of protein. However, not all proteins are created equal, and each has a different amino-acid profile, which is why dogs need a variety of proteins for complete nutrition.

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