Dogs Need Protein
Protein has many functions in the body, but it is best known for supplying amino acids to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Protein also plays a main role in hormone and enzyme production.
The protein in dog foods can be supplied by animal sources, plant sources, or a combination of the two. Common animal-based protein sources used in pet food include chicken, lamb, fish meal, and beef. Common plant-based protein sources used in pet food include corn-gluten meal and soybean meal.
Why Should Dogs Be Fed a Diet with Animal-Based Proteins?
Even though they are often fed plant-based diets, dogs are not herbivores. They are omnivores: animals that eat both animal- and plant-based foods.
The body structure of domestic dogs-- ideal for eating animal flesh—is similar to that of their carnivorous ancestors and relatives the wolf, coyote, fox, and jackal.
- Domestic dogs possess enlarged carnassial teeth, which are efficient for holding prey and after which carnivores are named.
- The gastrointestinal tract is simple and does not have the capacity to digest large amounts of plant products.
In addition, high quality animal-source proteins contain all of the essential amino acids dogs need, whereas some plant-based proteins might be deficient in some essential amino acids. So although dogs may be classified as omnivores, they are best fed as carnivores.
Recent studies by The IAMS™ Company examined how the type of protein in a diet affected body composition of adult and senior dogs.1
Adult and senior dogs were fed diets with varying amounts of protein from chicken and corn-gluten meal, and their body composition (muscle versus fat tissue) was analyzed. In addition, levels of key blood and muscle proteins were measured.
Compared with dogs fed a diet with 100% chicken protein, dogs fed diets with decreasing levels of chicken and increasing levels of corn-gluten meal had the following:
- Decreased lean tissue
- Increased body fat
- Decreased levels of blood proteins routinely used as markers of superior nutritional status
This was independent of the overall dietary protein level (12% or 28%), which was also examined in each of the four test groups.
As dogs age, body composition and muscle-specific proteins decline. Therefore, another study looked at the differences between feeding senior dogs a 32%-protein chicken-based diet, a 32%-protein chicken and corn-gluten meal diet, or a 16%-protein chicken-based diet. Senior dogs fed the 32%-chicken protein, chicken-based diet had better body composition and a muscle-specific protein pattern identical to that in healthy young-adult dogs. However, those results were not seen in either of the other two diets.
A Little Extra Time Goes a Long Way
Committing the time to maintaining your dog's coat will help keep his shedding under control. Frequent brushing and vacuuming, and feeding your dog a balanced diet such as IAMS ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks will have you worrying less about an overabundance of hair and more time enjoying your furry friend.
1 Data on file. The IAMS Company, 2001.
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What Is Bloat?
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that acts rapidly and can lead to death within hours if not recognized and treated immediately. Unfortunately, the cause of bloat remains unknown at this time.
The scientific term for bloat is gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat is characterized by rapid and abnormal expansion of the stomach with gas (dilatation). This can be followed by rotation of the stomach (volvulus). This rotation closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach. The blood vessels also are closed down, and blood flow is restricted.
What follows is an increase in pressure inside the stomach and compression of the surrounding organs. Eventually, shock will occur as a result of the restricted blood flow. Here are a few key facts about bloat:
- Bloat should always be treated as a medical emergency.
- Bloat can kill a dog within hours after onset.
- The cause of bloat is unknown.
- Bloat affects 36,000 dogs in the United States each year; 30% die as a result of this condition.
- Bloat can occur in dogs of any age.
- Certain breeds are more susceptible to bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.
- The stomach rapidly expands with gas then rotates on the long axis. Entry to and exit from the stomach is prohibited, causing blood vessels to close and restriction of blood flow.
Signs of Bloat
Bloat is a true medical emergency, and early identification and treatment is critical to survival.
In the early stages of bloat, the dog will be very uncomfortable. You might see him pacing and whining or trying unsuccessfully to get into a comfortable position. He might seem anxious, might lick or keep staring at his stomach, and might attempt to vomit, without success.
Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swelling of the abdomen, and even signs of shock. Signs of shock are increased heart rate and abnormally rapid breathing.
If you notice these signs, call your veterinarian immediately!
- Inability to get comfortable
- Pacing or restlessness
- Pale gums
- Unproductive attempts to vomit
- Abnormally rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Pain, weakness
- Swelling of the abdomen (particularly the left side)
Helping Prevent Bloat
These suggestions could help you prevent bloat in your dog. However, they are based on suspected risk factors and are not guaranteed to prevent the onset of bloat.
- Feed small amounts of food frequently, two to three times daily.
- Avoid exercise for one hour before and two hours after meals.
- Don't let your dog drink large amounts of water just before or after eating or exercise.
- If you have two or more dogs, feed them separately to avoid rapid, stressful eating.
- If possible, feed at times when after-feeding behavior can be observed.
- Avoid abrupt diet changes.
- If you see signs of bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.
Another way you might help prevent bloat is to feed a high-quality, highly digestible food with normal fiber levels.
Feeding management offers the best method available for reducing risk until the exact cause of bloat can be identified. Although not 100% effective, these measures can reduce the number of dogs that face this serious, life-threatening condition.
- German Shepherd
- Bouvier de Flandres
- Great Dane
- St. Bernard
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Irish Setter
- Gordon Setter
- Irish Wolfhound
- Labrador Retriever
- Basset Hound
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