How good is the protein in your pet’s food? Protein digestibility as a measure of quality.
- 1 April 2021
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Protein in pet nutrition (Part 3 of 4)
by Dr. Anoosh, Pet Wants Lubbock
Another measure for assessing dietary protein for pets is protein digestibility. Your pet’s body must break proteins down into amino acids in his/her digestive tract. Your pet will then absorb those amino acids across the wall of its intestine and into its blood. Thus, if a protein is not digestible, it cannot be broken down into amino acids in the digestive tract of your pet, and the amino acids will not be absorbed. As a rule of thumb, protein from ingredients of a plant origin have a lower digestibility than proteins from ingredients of an animal origin. However, it is noteworthy that some animal proteins, such as the proteins found in hair, feathers (e.g., feather meal), or fish scales, have very low digestibility. Thus, when you purchase a food for your fur child, always ask this question “What is the main source of protein and amino acids in this food? Is it coming from an ingredient with an animal origin? Or does it come from ingredients of a plant origin.” The first five ingredients listed in your pet’s food are generally the most abundant – although beware of labels that list chicken versus chicken meal as a top ingredient (see my previous tip).
See part 4 next week, which will discuss the importance of amino acid availability when looking at the quality of protein in your pet’s food.
Dr. Anoosh has a PhD in animal nutrition and has published numerous research articles on nutrition in animals, particularly during stress. His weekly tips and advice about animal nutrition are not meant to replace medical recommendations from your pet’s veterinarian.