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Protein in Pet Nutrition – Part 2

Protein in Pet Nutrition – Part 2
  • 26 March 2021
  • kmauzy

How good is the protein in your pet’s food?

by Dr. Anoosh, Pet Wants Lubbock

Dietary protein in your pet’s food is assessed based on how much of essential amino acids it supplies (i.e., the concentration of essential amino acids), the composition (or mixture) of the essential amino acids, the digestibility of the protein, and the availability of the essential amino acids. An “ideal protein” for your pet is a protein that provides essential amino acids (as close as possible) to meet the requirements for optimum health. Now, if the protein in the diet of your pet contains high amounts of non-essential amino acids and it is deficient in essential amino acids (even only one of them), that protein does not have a nutritional value for your fur kids (even if the guaranteed value on the food label shows a high percentage of protein). In general foods of animal origin (ex: chicken meal, salmon/fish meal, meat meal, chicken, lamb, salmon, etc.) have a higher and better composition of essential amino acids, compared to food ingredients of plant origin (ex: soybean, corn, wheat, barley, rice, peas, etc.). Therefore, the rule of thumb is that the more protein comes from ingredients of animal origin, the higher and better the nutritional value of the pet food protein. Plant proteins are often deficient in essential amino acids such as lysine, methionine, threonine, and/or tryptophan. 

See part 3 next week for more about the importance of digestibility when looking at the quality of the 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.