What is the role amino acids play in dog food?

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Your dog needs 22 amino acids, the building blocks of protein, 10 of which must be supplied by diet. The other 12 are manufactured in her liver. Amino acids are the things of which proteins are made. A healthy dog uses amino acids to make muscles, hair, skin and enzymes.

Your dog needs the following amino acids: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Amino acids are essential nutrients for all the dog’s tissues and organs during the dog’s phases of growth and development. Proteins also play a main role in the dog’s immune system, and when consumed, they are burned as calories and can be stored as fat. A deficiency in any of the amino acids can cause health problems.

Here’s what happens when just one is missing: Proteins are manufactured in the dog’s cells, and it becomes a domino-effect, because if just one amino acid is missing, the entire process shuts down.

The wild dog ate a meat-based diet and consumed a high percentage of protein from its prey. These proteins contained plenty of amino acids, because that is what builds the protein in the first place! The domestic dog gets it from their dog food. Most meat will contain all the necessary amino acids that your dog needs, but a lot of plant protein is missing one or two of the essential amino acids.

While many use the words “amino acids” and “protein” interchangeably, that’s not entirely correct, because the protein source (such as plants or a low quality meat) may not contain all of the essential ones; therefore, it is misleading to judge a dog food simply by the protein count; you must confirm that all ten essential amino acids are present, whether listed on the ingredient label or included in a high quality protein.

Of course, consult your veterinarian or a pet nutritional expert if you have concerns.

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