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The Benefits of Soy

In addition to providing high levels of most essential amino acids, soy-based products can help reduce serum cholesterol.

Puppies also have increased requirements for proteins and other nutrients, which must be properly balanced in relation to one another.
Nutrition research also reveals that soy contains a group of chemicals called isoflavones which are related to anti-cancer activity. They are antioxidants which protect cells from damage by oxygen. Oxidation causes changes that are thought to lead to cancer and other diseases.

Unless a pet has a flatulence problem which can be identified by the use of soy, high quality pet food products containing soybean meal can be fed with confidence.

Defining Protein

Protein, in itself, is not required by dogs and cats. They require the proper balance of amino acids, the substances which make up protein. Each protein molecule is made up of hundreds of amino acids combined with one another.

The amino acids, over 20 in number, are often described as "the building blocks of protein." Their
arrangement determines the nature of the protein. Once consumed, dietary proteins in the foods are broken down into component amino acids by digestion. They are then absorbed and distributed by the bloodstream to the body cells which rebuild these amino acids into body proteins.

Certain amino acids can be manufactured by the pet’s body to satisfy its needs. They are described as nonessential amino acids. Others cannot be formed fast enough or at adequate levels to supply the pet’s
needs. They are termed essential amino acids and must be present in the diet of the dog and cat. The absence or deficiency of even one essential amino acid will influence the utilization of all others.

There is little, if any, storage of amino acids in the dog or cat’s body. They are constantly metabolized by the body to build and maintain body tissue. Consequently, protein containing the proper amino acid balance
should be supplied daily.

Ten amino acids considered essential to both the dog and cat are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, arginine,
methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and lysine.

A Cat’s Special Amino Acid Requirement

The cat requires a sufficient level of the amino acid taurine in its diet. All animals, as well as humans, need
taurine, but the cat is the only known mammal which cannot manufacture enough taurine to meet its meta-bolic needs. A taurine deficiency in the cat’s diet can result in degeneration of the retina and, ultimately,
blindness. A taurine shortage can also contribute to cardiomyopathy in certain cats. An appropriate level
of taurine is contained in high quality nutritionally complete and balanced cat foods.

Exceeding Minimum Protein Requirements

The minimum level of protein is required to be stated as part of the guaranteed analysis on all pet food packages. The reason the word "crude" appears in association with the protein content is that the
amount shown is based on laboratory analysis of the nitrogen content from which the protein is estimated. Protein contains 16 percent nitrogen on average.

Many commercial pet foods exceed the minimum requirements which nutrition research has established for protein and other nutrients. This is done because:

  • .higher levels of protein provide an additional source of amino acids for use under stress conditions such as disease, wound healing and lactation;

  • some dogs may have nutritional needs that exceed those of average dogs;

  • nutrient requirements vary with the age, breed, temperament and activity level of the dog as well as environmental conditions;

  • .highly nutritious pet foods help make up for "junk food" such as table scraps that are a part of many pets’ diets.

    Considerable research has been conducted to detect any adverse effects associated with feeding high levels of dietary protein. There is no evidence that the protein levels in a nutritionally complete and balanced pet food cause any health problems in healthy dogs or cats. The protein that is not used for building and
    repairing tissue is utilized as energy. The excess nitrogen in the protein is excreted in the urine.

    Determining a Dog’s Protein Requirements

    A dog’s protein requirements depend upon the life stage and activity of the dog. In normal dogs, the dietary protein requirement is highest for growth, gestation and lactation. During stress the protein requirements are increased. A dog food containing more than 1600 calories and at least 21 percent protein (dry type
    dog food) is recommended for reproduction.

    The protein requirement for the normal adult dog is not as great. Generally diets designed for maintenance are lower in protein than those for growth.

    The hardworking dog requires a diet with higher levels of calories and fat. Normally as the calorie level of a diet increases, the protein content is also increased.

    Weight-maintenance diets formulated for sedentary dogs are lower in fat and calories. A dog food formulated for weight maintenance is not appropriate for growing puppies or for pregnant or nursing females.

    Puppies, Protein and the Large Breed Myth

    Puppies also have increased requirements for proteins and other nutrients, which must be properly balanced in relation to one another. They should receive at least 22 percent of their calories from protein, which translates to between 21 and 30 percent of the diet as protein, depending on the calorie content of the food.

    Some concern has been raised regarding the link between protein and developmental bone problems in large breed puppies. According to research conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, dietary protein does not contribute to these problems. In this study, there were no detrimental effects from protein levels up to 32 percent of the diet, but puppies fed with only 15 percent protein showed evidence of inadequate protein intake.

    Dispelling Myths About Protein and the Aging Dog

    Because older dogs can become less efficient in metabolizing protein than young dogs they require more protein. This need for more protein in the healthy aging dog’s diet contradicts a belief held by some dog owners that older dogs should be fed less protein than young dogs. Perhaps this belief resulted from the myth that associates protein with kidney failure. Once kidney failure is in advanced stages protein restriction is recommended to help alleviate some of the problems associated with this condition.

    Research from several leading veterinary colleges shows there is no evidence to indicate that protein at an appropriate level for a nutritionally complete and balanced diet causes kidney damage in dogs.

    Two recently completed studies at different universities studied older dogs that had one kidney removed. In each case, half the dogs were fed a high protein diet while the others received diets with restricted protein levels. After four years, the geriatric dogs fed the higher protein diets were as healthy, if not healthier than
    dogs fed the lower protein diets.

    In addition, early findings from ongoing research at the Purina Pet Care Center, in collaboration with leading veterinary nephrologists, indicates that 45 percent protein has no detrimental effect on the health and kidney function of healthy aging dogs.
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