February 18, 2021

Getting the Right Balance of Protein, Fats and Carbs for your Dog

The topic of applied animal nutrition maybe not be particularly alluring to most of us, but we can assure you our Research & Development team seem to get really excited by it. Nonetheless, we are certain we all unanimously agree that good nutrition forms the fundamental basis of a healthy dog, and that IS something that we all value.

In this post we look at a new understanding of the balance of requirements of macronutrients: proteins, fats and carbs.

Why we care

Our lives are revolving around our dogs more than ever, as we google pet-friendly accommodation options, seek out cafes where Rover is welcome, or peruse the pet store aisles ensuring we source the best for them. Whether this means matching leads, collars and bow ties, or the most comfortable bed made from natural organic fibers. The bonds and relationship we share with our dogs are fostered by the care we afford them. We overlay similar values when it comes to their care as we would a child. 

 

Pet owners are increasingly aware of reading food labels, and are very conscious about what they are feeding their pets and will do more research on dog food than many would do choosing a home loan, or maybe that’s just us? We understand the human-animal bond, the integral place our dogs hold within our family dynamic, and nothing drives us to make the best honest-to-goodness dog food more than this.  We also know that dogs are largely driven by food, so it has to pass their test too!

Proteins

Functionally proteins are required to:

  •  • Build, maintain and repair tissue such as muscle, hair and skin.
  •  • Regulate metabolic processes such as hormonal balances.
  •  • Immune health, and the production of disease-combating antibodies.
  •  • Provide an essential source of dietary energy.

 

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and constitute the basis of pre-defined chains that determine their functions within the body.  Our canine companions require 20 different amino acids for survival, and 10 of these are essential, and must be obtained primarily through dietary means.  The remaining amino acid requirements are met through natural synthesizing processes by the body. Clever wouldn’t you say?

For dogs, protein should constitute approximately 30% of the energy (calories) requirement on a daily basis, and can be sourced from either animal, or plant origins including meat, fish, egg, milk, legumes and cereal glutens.  Of these sources, it must be noted that not all proteins are created equally.  The biological value of each varies significantly.  A protein must be digestible in order for the body to reap the nutritional benefit.  The digestibility profile of a nutrient can simply be described as what’s useable, and what’s eliminated through waste.

Fats

Contrary to what we may think if we overlay thoughts around fats in our own diets, it must be acknowledged that fats play an integral role and function in the correct measure. Typically, dogs should obtain 60% of their daily energy requirement through dietary fat sources. Fats contains around twice the energy per gram than both protein and carbohydrate, are highly favorable in terms of palatability (taste), and are highly digestible. Most fats will be derived from sources from animal fats, and vegetable oils. This is not to say that your pooch won’t become a hefty chonk if fats are consumed in excess to their nutritional needs.

Important functions of fats:

• Carrier of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K).
• Concentrated energy source.
• Cell membrane health and function.
• Provide essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 for skin, coat, joint, fertility and brain function.

Carbohydrates

Dogs have no essential requirement for carbohydrate in their diet, however the digestive tract of a dog will break-down and utilize energy originating from such sources, which is why it should only constitute around 10% of the daily energy (calories) requirement.

Useful attributes of a low carbohydrate diet:

  • The breakdown of starches into glucose through the digestive process is used to provide energy to nervous tissues, red blood cells, and blood sugar stores.
  • Promote gut health in the form of insoluble dietary fiber for bowel function.
  • Fermentable carbohydrates are broken down by bacteria to instill healthy balance of valuable gut flora akin to prebiotics.

Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals maybe referred to as micro-nutrients. The nutritional requirement for these is delivered in very specific, and usually very small measured doses.
Vitamins are required to assist the body regulate crucial biological processes, and can be categorized into two difference categories, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.

Water

While water contains no energy value, it is the most essential biological compound needed to sustain life. Water is present in many biological processes such as temperature regulation, transporting nutrients, metabolism, losses from excretion from urine, faeces, breathing and milk production.  Water compromises approximately 60% of the adult animal body, and a depletion of 10% can have significantly adverse consequences, while 15% loss may result in death.

Palatability and digestibility

It only takes a visit to your local pet supply store, supermarket, or veterinary practice to see there’s no shortage of products on offer to satisfy even the most discerning owners. Products containing organic superfoods that are ethically sourced from sustainable supply chains in recyclable packaging certainly appeal to many, and while some only stop just short of claiming Fifi will prosper to heights paralleling an Olympic athlete, the most important basis of a good dietary product is that it is good to eat.

Naturally selecting the optimal Macro-Nutrient Requirement.

When we talk about instinctive feeding behaviors, I am not certain a handbag-dwelling chihuahua, or puppacino-wielding cavoodle would possess the hunting prowess of their ancestral predecessors, but even despite the humanisation and evolution of our canine companions, some natural behaviors remain intact.  Dogs are by nature hard-wired to scavenge, and will gorge on food from times when their next feeding opportunity was unknown, with the physiological ability to consume the equivalent of 20% of their own bodyweight in a single feeding occasion. This trait was more about ensuring a supply of energy in an environment of unknown fluctuations of available dietary sources, not necessarily being a greedy- piglet. Labradors can often be a prime example of this, they seemingly have no ‘off-button’, and will often eat until they can’t move despite them comfortably relying on their owners’ reliable provision of food.

Although there have been numerous studies on natural selection of diets by dogs, in one recent study published in The Journal of Animal Physiology & Animal Nutrition published by Blackwell Verlag GmbH  Macronutrient Intake of dogs, self-selecting diets varying in composition offered ad libitum (2017) M.T Roberts, E.N Bermingham, NJ Cave, W Young, C.M McKenzie & D.G Thomas. Findings summarized that it was found that dogs will instinctively select a diet with the metabolizable energy content of a diet possessing macro nutrient ratio proportionate to 30:63:7 protein, fat, carbohydrate.  While it’s noted that carbohydrate does not feature a significant portion of the nutritional needs of dogs, the health implications of that preference are of interest.

 Macro-nutrient ratios (MNR)  refer to the energy derived from protein, fat and carbohydrate in balance, and should not be confused with the percentages seen on packaging which refers to guaranteed or typical analysis

Getting the Balance Right. Making Really Good Food for Dogs.

Now we’ve touched on the very basics of dog nutrition, the most important part is understanding how to put it together, and get the balance right. With the exception of demanding life-stage feeding requirements such as gestation, lactation, or working/athletic dogs, the modern dog doesn’t need a diet dense in calories. With decades of animal nutrition expertise under our belts, we understand that inherent feeding behavior dating back to the origins of the grey wolves, and knowing what dogs prefer. We’re experts in sourcing wholesome, clean and green Aussie ingredients, and knowing exactly what to do with them. Our BALANCED LIFE™ dog rolls have been lovingly crafted to replicate the nutritional geometry of an ancestral diet, something we know they seek out to satisfy their energy requirements as nature intended.  Our BALANCED LIFE™ dog rolls are formulated to be complete and balanced for all life-stage feeding by AAFCO standards, so you can rest assured all the tricky stuff has been taken care of, and you can spend your precious time with your dog, and not worrying about the nutritional credentials of kale.

Pro-tip

BALANCED LIFE ™ dog rolls can be portioned, sliced into disks, and frozen.  This will keep them entertained on a hot day, and help boost their overall water intake through the day, something vitally important in our harsh Australian climate.

BALANCED LIFE ™ dog rolls are a perfect option to feed as a sole source of nutrition, particularly if your dog is prone to unwanted weight-gain.  Dry diets can be up to 4 times more energy- concentrated on a gram by gram basis.


Getting the Right Balance of Protein, Fats and Carbs for your Dog - Balanced Life