Our dogs (and all living organisms) need a wide variety of nutrients to survive. These nutrients provide energy and enable their bodies to function. One of the most important of these nutrients is protein.
Proteins give the body structure (think strong hair, skin, nails, muscles and bones) and are necessary to make hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and antibodies that keep our dog’s body functioning optimally.
OK, so protein is important. But there’s more to it than that.
What’s a Complete Protein?
Proteins are large molecules made up of 22 amino acids. While dogs produce a dozen amino acids in their body, the other ten must be provided through their diet and so they’re known as essential amino acids.
A “complete protein” supplies all of the essential amino acids necessary for a dog’s good health.
Not only must all of the essential amino acids be present but they also should be at the appropriate levels. AAFCO provides guidance on all ten essential amino acids and the levels a dog food must contain to keep dogs healthy. We’ll come back to this!
Protein Digestibility In Dogs
It’s also important that the protein is digestible. Digestibility refers to the relative amount of nutrients within the diet that become available to the body after digestion and absorption. The protein digestibility in dogs is determined through feeding trials.
Canine nutritionists say that the minimum target is 80 percent, with ideal values ranging between 80 and 90 percent. Feeding diets exceptionally high in digestibility are problematic.
A dog’s large intestine is adapted to expect some undigested foods such as fiber. Depriving the colon of these foods influences colonic health and reduces fecal bulk.
Now, What’s a High-Quality Protein?
A high-quality protein meets several criteria.
- A Complete Protein – as described above, a complete protein is a protein with all the essential amino acids.
- A Digestible Protein – Your dog’s body can break down the protein and use the amino acids effectively – scoring over 80 in digestibility feeding trials.
- Meets or Exceeds Recommended Amino Acid Levels – it contains a sufficient amount of amino acids to form all the proteins your dog’s body needs (these are the levels identified by AAFCO).
Insect Protein is a High-Quality Protein
At Jiminy’s, we make sustainable dog food and treats using insect protein. Insect protein is a complete protein with all of the essential amino acids (cricket and grub protein both meet or exceed all of the amino acid levels recommended by AAFCO for canines).
Insect protein is also digestible for dogs. Both cricket and grubs score in the optimal range between 80 and 90 percent, so they’re an ideal source of protein for your pup.