Protein is best known for supplying amino acids to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It also plays a main role in hormone production.
Animal-Based Proteins Versus Plant-Based Proteins
The protein in dog foods can be supplied by animal sources, plant sources or a combination of the two. High-quality animal-source proteins contain all of the essential amino acids dogs need, while a single plant-based protein might not contain adequate amounts of some essential amino acids.
Common animal-based protein sources used in pet food include chicken, lamb, fish, and beef.
Even though they are often fed plant-based diets, dogs are not herbivores. While dogs are technically considered to be omnivores—animals that eat both animal- and plant-based foods—they should be treated primarily as carnivores to better fulfill their specific nutritional requirements.
Dogs are members of the Canidae family. This family also includes the wolf, coyote, fox, and jackal. The ancestors and relatives of today's common dog hunted animals and ate them as a means of survival.
The body structure of domestic dogs is similar to that of their ancestors and relatives and is ideal for eating prey. Dogs have the enlarged carnassial teeth after which carnivores are named. Their gastrointestinal tract is simple and does not have the capacity to digest large amounts of plant products.
Animal-based proteins help dogs achieve optimal health.
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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