nutrition

Are proteins really bad for dogs?

It’s a myth that high level of proteins causes aggression and kidney failure in pets. Here’s the myth buster.

Role of proteins: Proteins perform numerous functions in the body, encompassing roles as diverse as Nutritionstructural components of practically all body tissues, enzymes for digestion of food and metabolic reactions, homeostatic hormones and transport proteins, and immunoglobulins and other components of the immune system. Body proteins are constantly being turned over, requiring a supply of amino acid building blocks.

Proteins: Dogs and cats are able to synthesise 12 of the 22 different amino acids found in proteins, but only as long as sufficient nitrogen is present in the diet. These are the so-called non-essential or dispensable amino acids. The other 10 amino acids – the essential or indispensable – must be supplied in the diet and include arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Cats require an eleventh amino acid, namely taurine.

Dietary protein and amino acid requirements vary according to life stage and lifestyle, as well as factors such as disease, environmental temperature and stress. The ability of a food to meet these requirements depends upon how digestible the protein is and how well its amino acid profile meets the amino acid needs of body tissues. The latter represents the biological value or quality of a protein.

Protein dietary requirements: National Research Council 2006 recommends that adult dogs should be fed a diet containing at least 25 g protein per 1000 kcal. This requirement increases to 50 g/1000 kcal in female dogs during pregnancy and lactation and 56g/1000 kcal in puppies. Protein requirements are also higher in working and racing dogs, reflecting the demands of increased muscle turnover and protein synthesis.

Protein supplied in excess of requirements is simply converted to energy and stored or utilised as such. There are no recommended maximum protein intakes for dogs.

Myth busted: Anecdotally there are claims that raw meat (high protein) diets are linked with aggression in dogs. This has led to speculation that a high protein level in dog food causes aggression. Brain biochemistry indicates that certain amino acids are linked with production of ‘calming’ hormones; hence there is a leap of faith suggesting that certain diets are calming and others have the opposite effect. Likewise there has been speculation that high protein diets cause kidney disease, especially in cats. This has partly come about because low protein diets are used to treat the symptoms of kidney disease.

Dogs are semi-carnivores, cats are carnivores; this means that they evolved to eat diets rich in protein. For example, the maternal milk of dogs is much higher in protein than human or cow’s milk.

Scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and aggression in dogs. Our resident dogs at our Pet Centres in Waltham and Verden, Germany are continuously looked after and monitored with respect to their health, happiness and behaviour. Over many years of feeding foods containing a range of protein levels, we have never experienced any indication of a relationship between dietary protein and aggression.

Similarly, several scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and risk of kidney disease in healthy cats and dogs.

The independent international nutrition guidelines for dogs (NRC) are based on the latest science and they have not specified a limit to upper levels of protein for dogs.

nutrition

‘Treat’ them right!

Delicious, scrumptious treats…our pooches love them and we love to see the happiness on their face when they get one of their favourite treats. But, before you toss that treat to your pooch, hold on, think again – is it right for your pooch?

Treats are an important training tool – used for rewarding your pooch for good behaviour. Treats like chew sticks help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. But, treats should be used in moderation, let’s see why.

  • No human treats please: We love to share our life with our pooches and sometimes even our nutritionfood…but it can be harmful for her. Pet food is different and contains the essential nutrients for her health. So, do not share your food, even if she looks at you with those soulful pleading eyes.
  • Choose the treat as per your dog size and health: If you have a puppy, feed her smaller treats and if you have a senior dog, softer treats should be fine. Make sure your pooch is not allergic of any contents of the treat. For obese dogs, low-calorie treats are available.
  • For dental health: Chew treats help in promoting healthy teeth and keeping bad breath away. You can use rawhide chews but supervise her to ensure that she does not choke on swallowing it.
  • Treats and training: While training your dog, you can use treats to reward her. But, you can control the calorie intake by giving her a smaller treat. And sometimes, even a pat or ‘Good Girl’ should be enough treat for her. Also, make sure to use different kinds of treats to keep her motivated.
  • Make treat a fun: Use a Kong toy to hide your pet’s favourite treat. She can play with the Kong for hours to get hold of her treat. This would be mentally stimulating for her as well.
  • Limit the treats: Treats should not form more than 10 percent of your pet’s total calorie intake.
  • Special treat…you: There’s nothing like spending quality time with your pooch. Bond with her, play with her, groom her, or take her out for a walk or a ride …because you are her special treat.

Experts’ comments

“We should be very careful about the ingredients while giving treats to our dogs. Treats containing saturated fats are harmful to our pets. Particularly, obese pets should avoid milk-products, ice creams, etc.”
– Dr CS Arun, My Pet Clinic, Mysore

“Apart from other health factors, amount of Buten is the treats should always be checked. Such treats sometimes cause allergic to dogs. And it’s good to go only for additive-free treats.”
– Dr Mahmood Abbas, Caliph Pet Zone, Bengaluru

“Treats are useful during training for a specific reason that it helps in pulling attention of young dogs (4-5 months in age) who are in the initial stage of training regimes.”
– Rajesh Kumar, trainer, Dog Kennel, New Delhi

“One of the useful tools during training sessions is treats. The treats we use are not for feeding purpose. That’s just rewards which encourage the spirits of furry trainees.”
– Sanjay Kumawat, trainer, Kumawat Dog Trainer, Ajmer

 

Say no to rude food!

Some foods which are edible for humans can pose hazards for dogs. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness and even death. Here are some common foods that should not be given.

  • Raw eggs and raw meat: Raw eggs contain an enzyme avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin.
    nutrition

    Dr Sandip Umretiya with his daughter Shree

    This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs and raw meat may also contain Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

  • Fish (raw, canned or cooked): If fed exclusively or in high amounts can result in a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death.
  • Bones from fish, poultry or other meat sources: Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.
  • Chocolate, coffee, tea and other caffeine: Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and be toxic to the heart and nervous systems.
  • Grapes, raisins and currants: Contain a toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
  • Onions and garlic: Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia.
  • Mushrooms: Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock and result in death.
  • Yeast dough: Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.
  • Sugary food: Can lead to obesity, dental problems and possibly diabetes mellitus.
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener): Can cause very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can result in vomiting, weakness and collapse. High doses can even cause liver failure.
  • Salt: If eaten in large quantities, it may lead to imbalances.
  • Marijuana and alcoholic beverages: Can cause vomiting, intoxication and may lead to coma and death.
  • Fat trimmings: Can cause pancreatitis.
  • Persimmons seeds, pits from peaches and plums: Can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
  • Avocado: The leaves, seeds, fruit and bark contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Tobacco: Contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems and can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma and death.
  • Cat food: Generally too high in protein and fats.
  • Milk: Many pet parents believe that milk causes worms as well as hair loss, that’s why it should not be fed to the dog. But it’s not true. The fact is all the dogs are not able to produce an enzyme lactase in their body to digest the milk sugar lactose. So, the lactose remains undigested and tends to ferment in the intestine and cause diarrhoea. Some pets can tolerate little milk, others, none at all. If your pet enjoys and appears to tolerate milk and milk products, you can give your pet small amounts.

(Dr Sandip Umretiya, BVSc & AH, MVSc runs Pets Plus – Pet Clinic, Vadodara, Gujarat.)

 


Did you know?

  • Chocolate and coffee contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cocoa seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremours, seizures, kidney failure. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. Never feed your pet chocolates.
  • Large amount of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten salty foods include vomiting, elevated body temperature, seizure, tremors and may even cause death.
  • Moldy or spoilt food or garbage can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhoea and also affect other organs.
  • Cyanide poisoning can result from giving your dog the apple core. The pits and cores of certain fruits – plums, peaches, pears, apricots may be delicious, but hide cyanogenic glycosides. Some of the symptoms of toxicity are dilated pupils, salivation, dizziness, seizures, shock and coma.
  • Bacon is a high fat food and can cause pancreatitis. The salt content in these foods can cause stomach upset and make the dog drink lot of water and later cause bloat, which is a fatal condition.
  • Grains should not be given in large amounts or make up a large part of a dog’s diet, but rice is generally safe in small amounts
  • Raw liver or too much cooked liver can lead to vitamin A toxicity.

–Dr Jacob Mathew, Good Shepherd Veterinary Polyclinic, Secunderabad

Well-balanced diet – a must

Never give onion, garlic, candies, chocolates, grapes, alcoholic beverages, caffeine products, raw egg meal, table scrapes, sugary food, salty food, etc. Consult your vet for well-balanced nutritious diets.

–Dr Madan Dagar, Dog Pet Clinic, Alwar, Rajasthan

nutrition

Bust the myth!

Does high level of proteins cause aggression and kidney failure in pets? Need for protein…

Proteins perform numerous functions in the body, encompassing roles as diverse as structural components ofnutrition practically all body tissues, enzymes for digestion of food and metabolic reactions, homeostatic hormones and transport proteins, and imunoglobulins and other components of the immune system. Body proteins are constantly being turned over, requiring a supply of amino acid building blocks.

Protein dog facts…

Dogs and cats are able to synthesis 12 of the 22 different amino acids found in proteins, but only as long as sufficient nitrogen is present in the diet. These are the so-called non-essential or dispensable amino acids. The other 10 amino acids – the essential or indispensable – must be supplied in the diet and include arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

How much protein?

Dietary protein and amino acid requirements vary according to lifestage and lifestyle, as well as factors such as disease, environmental temperature and stress. The ability of a food to meet these requirements depends upon how digestible the protein is and how well its amino acid profile meets the amino acid needs of body tissues. The latter represents the biological value or quality of a protein.

National Research Council 2006 recommends that adult dogs should be fed a diet containing at least 25 g protein per 1000 kcal. This requirement increases to 50 g/1000 kcal in female dogs during pregnancy and lactation, 56 g/1000 kcal in puppies. Protein requirements are also higher in working and racing dogs, reflecting the demands of increased muscle turnover and protein synthesis.

Protein supplied in excess of requirements is simply converted to energy and stored or utilised as such. There are no recommended maximum protein intakes for dogs.

The myth…

Anecdotally there are claims that raw meat (high protein) diets are linked with aggression in dogs. This has led to speculation that a high protein level in dog foods causes aggression. Brain biochemistry indicates that certain amino acids are linked with production of ‘calming’ hormones; hence there is a leap of faith suggesting that certain diets are calming and others have the opposite effect. Likewise there has been speculation that high protein diets cause kidney disease, especially in cats. This has partly come about because low protein diets are used to treat the symptoms of kidney disease.

Dogs are semi-carnivores. Cats are carnivores; this means that they evolved to eat diets rich in protein. For example, the maternal milk of dogs is much higher in protein than human or cow’s milk.

The myth busted…

Scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and aggression in dogs. Our resident dogs at our Pet Centres in Waltham and Verden, Germany are continuously looked after and monitored with respect to their health, happiness and behaviour. Over many years of feeding foods containing a range of protein levels we have never experienced any indication of a relationship between dietary protein and aggression.

Similarly, several scientific studies have shown that there is no link between high protein diets and risk of kidney disease in healthy cats and dogs.

The independent international nutrition guidelines for dogs (NRC) are based on the latest science. If there were any evidence that proteins cause aggression or kidney disease, they would specify a limit to upper levels of protein for dogs. No such limit exists.

Food allergies in dogs

How can I look after my pet’s skin and coat?

By regularly and carefully checking your pet’s skin and coat, you will often notice changes that were not Nutritionimmediately apparent. For example, you might notice dandruff, a splinter or a mass (lump) that only recently appeared…. Similarly, your pet’s behaviour can be very significant. If he keeps scratching or licking, it is important to check the affected areas closely. Do not hesitate to contact your vet if you are unsure.

The level or care your pet’s skin needs depends on several factors, such as:

  • Species: cats are often more difficult to handle than dogs.
  • Lifestyle: does he mainly live indoors or outdoors?
  • Coat type: long or short hair? Rough or silky?
  • Skin type: oily, dry or normal?

Generally speaking:

  • Check your dog after walks for splinters or grass seeds and remove any ticks or fleas you come across.
  • Dry your dog if he is wet (with a clean bath towel), without forgetting his ears.
  • Regularly groom your pet with a suitable brush or comb. This untangles any knots that may have formed and also removes dead hair.
  • Only wash your pet with shampoos specifically designed for cats and dogs. Companion animals have more acidic skin than humans, so human shampoos may irritate your pet’s skin. If the shampoo you use was prescribed by your vet as part of your pet’s skin treatment, make sure you follow recommendations regarding contact time and frequency of application for this local treatment to be fully effective.

My vet suspects a food allergy: What does this mean?

Food allergies are caused by dietary allergens encountered during feeding. Animal proteins (beef, chicken…) are most commonly involved.

Mechanisms behind allergies

During the ‘sensitisation’ period (which may last several months, sometimes years), the animal is in contact with the allergen but does not show any symptoms. During this phase, however, he develops antibodies to the dietary allergen. In cases of allergic reactions, these antibodies recognise the allergen, leading to histamine release, which is responsible for the clinical signs.

Dietary treatment aims to eliminate all contact between your cat or dog’s body and the proteins to which he is allergic.

There are two types of hypoallergenic diets. They contain:

  • Either Selected proteins. In this case, the animal should be exclusively fed one type of protein (combined with one type of carbohydrate) that he has never been in contact with. This type of diet may be home-made. In this case, it is essential for pet parents to seek veterinary advice to ensure that the diet has the right protein, vitamin and mineral balance. This approach requires the pet parent to be highly committed to preparing meals and to have sufficient storage space available.
  • Or Hydrolysed proteins. These are proteins that have been broken down into little sections, called polypeptides or hydrolysates. These peptides are so small that they are no longer recognised as allergens by immune cells, and therefore do not trigger allergic reactions. Royal Canin Hypoallergenic diet was developed using this principle. Hypoallergenic diet is available from veterinary clinics only. Signs presented by affected animals may vary from case to case: some animals present digestive symptoms (e.g. chronic diarrhea, regular vomiting, flatulence), others will simply show skin symptoms (e.g. pruritus, regular ear infections, skin inflammation) while a proportion of affected animals will display a combination of digestive and skin symptoms. This is why this condition, which is actually fairly uncommon, often takes time and diligence to be diagnosed. Your vet may suggest an ‘exclusion diet’ to be able to accurately diagnose that your pet is allergic to a dietary protein. This involves your animal being exclusively fed a diet known to be hypoallergenic, for approximately two months. If your pet is allergic, his symptoms will improve during the test, and he will have to be fed a hypoallergenic diet for life.

Advice for pet parents

  • It is essential that you only feed your pet the prescribed diet (no table scraps or treats), or its beneficial effect will be cancelled out.
  • Tell your friends and family about your pet’s allergy and about the need to comply with the exclusion diet.
  • Ensue stringent compliance with the parasite control programme (fleas and ticks) prescribed by your vet.

Why is my pet scratching?

Animals may express itchiness by simply scratching themselves with their back feet, but also by nibbling particular body areas, rubbing or rolling on the floor.

There are many different reasons why animals scratch. The leading cause is contact with fleas: when they bite, fleas secrete irritating saliva that causes itchiness.

In animals suffering from a ‘flea bite allergy’, a few bites are enough for the animal to scratch frenetically. However, fleas cannot always be seen on the animal, since their small size (a few millimeters at most) means that they hide between hair.

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

The most common indicator of fleas is finding flea droppings (small black flecks) on the animal. Droplets of water will become reddish when mixed with these droppings.

Therefore, regular flea treatment of pets and their environment (including other animals) is advisable in all animals, and essential in all allergic pets.

Other less common causes of pruritus (itching) in cats and dogs include:

  • Other parasites (lice, harvest mites, cheyletiella…). It should be pointed out that sarcoptic mange (transmissible to humans) is very uncommon.
  • Skin infections
  • Canine atopic dermatitis
  • Dietary allergies/intolerances

The large number of reasons why pets can be itchy implies that many different treatments are possible. Your vet will carry out any additional investigations required for him to reach a diagnosis, which is essential to prescribing the right treatment.

Beneficial role of Coconut fat in the diet of puppies and kittens

Beneficial role of Coconut fat in the diet of puppies and kittens

nutrition

Royal Canin nutritional expertise comes to nutritional supplement

Nutritional supplement

Supplement given outside normal meal times, provide a response to needs linked to specific situations. Today,nutrition Royal Canin is innovating nutritional supplement born from Health Nutrition: Educ, for training puppies and adult dogs.

Age, breed, sensitivities… Royal Canin has been providing dogs and cats with the most precise nutritional answers, whatever their specific needs, for over 40 years. The nutritional supplement is to be given as a complement to normal food, come from the same perspective of rigour and quality.

Make his reward a nutritional bonus

Educ…the nutritional reward: Rewarding a dog for desired behaviour during training is a natural and often very effective method. With Educ, the reward means no concessions in nutritional aspect: less than 3 kcal per unit to help maintain the dog’s ideal weight, a complex of vitamins E and C to support cellular function and a specific formula for optimal digestive safety.

Exceptionally palatable, Educ finally reconciles reward and good nutrition. Educ is non-greasy and easy to be break apart, while the 50g pack is practical and easy to use, making it ideal for training puppies (from 2 months) and adult dogs.

Nutrition

Common food myths busted!

There is no room for improvisation in feeding your dog or cat. Pet health requires daily care with a balanced diet that provides all the essential nutrients (the elements of food that are essential for the organism to function: proteins, carbohydrates, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals and trace elements).

Production of nutritional food is like completing a complex jigsaw puzzle with more than 50 pieces, each nutritionrepresenting an essential nutrient. Cheap food contains only about 15 nutrients. For 40 years, Royal Canin has been placing the animal at the centre of its research process. Every nutritional innovation is a real improvement for your dog or cat’s health.

Common misconceptions about digestion and nutrition

“My dog eats what I do.”

False. Dogs do not have the same eating habits as humans. Their digestive system works in a totally different way, so, unlike humans, they can digest larger quantities of fat (provided it is good quality fat!). They cannot digest starch (for example, rice) unless it is perfectly cooked. “Kibbles cause calcium stones in urine.” False. In fact, some kibbles are actually formulated to prevent the formation of calculus. Remember to leave a dish of water constantly accessible for your pet.

“My dog needs variety in its diet.”

False. Ideally, your dog should have the same food in the same dish, in the same place, at the same time every day! Dogs are perfectly happy eating the same complete, balanced food and do not get fed up! We sometimes imagine such things by putting ourselves in their place, but remember that any sudden change in their diet can cause digestive disorders….

Common misconceptions on the choice of food

“Homemade food is more balanced than kibbles.”

False. What does your dog or cat actually need in terms of nutrients? How much energy does he need every day? How much protein is in the food you give? To provide a truly balanced diet, you need to know the answers to these questions and many others! Pet food manufacturers have these answers. “Homemade food is cheaper!” False. If you want to prepare a balanced meal for your pet, you would need about fifty ingredients, making it far more expensive than top quality industrial food.

“Dry food is not enough.”
False. Kibbles are manufactured from carefully selected ingredients and developed to produce a perfectly balanced diet. “My pet might break his teeth on kibbles.” False. Dogs and cats do not chew their food; they tear or crunch it. The shape and texture of kibbles are carefully designed to suit each breed, age and morphological particularities… every difference counts!

(Royal Canin products are available exclusively in pet shops & veterinary clinics. Visit: www.royalcanin.in or email at: feedback@royalcanin.in to know more.)