Today, commercial dog foods are different from one another by a greater variety of ingredients than one or two decades ago. This is particularly true for protein content. Some have more, others less, some only offer animal proteins, others only vegetable proteins, and so on.
At Eat Small, Insect Power we always valued the importance of protein. We have compared the protein content of insects with what beef and chicken can offer. We are proud to say that our insects provide dogs with delicious, high-quality and easily digestible protein. Furthermore, they are unique, as they are the most ecological and sustainable proteins in the world.
But what makes the quality of a protein? Are there any differences between insect, other animals or plant proteins? What do our dogs really need?
Let's try to understand more clearly...
Proteins are the most fundamental element of your dog’s body.
They are essential to life.
They are more or less complex molecules, omnipresent in all parts of the body and their functions are as diverse as they are numerous. They participate in the structure of all tissues: muscles, internal organs, hair, claws… They are also involved in all physiological processes: hormonal and enzymatic reactions, transmission of nerve impulses and oxygen transport, composition of antibodies for the immune system or energy supply for the cells.
The vital functions of the dog’s body, even if it is at rest, lead to an important daily consumption and loss of those proteins.
By quality food intake.
The body assembles its own proteins, the diet provides the basic material.
The common point of all proteins is that they are chains of small molecules called amino acids. There are 20 of them. Each protein differs by the amino acids’ presence-level in the chain. And here, it is important to understand the difference between the 2 types of amino acids:
Essentials: as the dog’s body cannot produce them. There are 10 amino acids which can only come from the proteins in the dog’s diet.
Non-essentials: there are 10 amino acids which can be produced by the dog's body from other nutrients, such as glucose.
A balanced diet should therefore provide sufficient proteins that contain the 10 essentialamino acids.
Animal proteins (insects, meat, milk, eggs) are generally better balanced for the dog's needs, because they contain all essential amino acids. However, acomplementarity between protein sources is important. Many foods of plant origin like cereals, legumes, algae or nuts also contain a lot of proteins, although just a few of them contain all 10 essential amino acids.
To mix animal and vegetable proteins is important for dogs, because they are not strict carnivores. A beneficial effect on health is provided by vegetable proteins as they increase the global protein intake of the body and also come with other non-protein key nutrients like fibers, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
With a diversified source of proteins, both our dry food Eat Small WALD and our cold pressed treats offer dogs a diet which is well protein-balanced. Our insect protein base contains all 20 essential and non-essential amino acids.We enriched it with the vegetable protein of amaranth in WALD, or those of chia seeds (MINDFULNESS treat), of spirulina (SPIRIT treat) or of goji berries (ENERGY treat).
A lot of people ask us if our products are vegan. Since insect protein is part of the animal proteins group(like meat, milk or eggs), the answer is « no ».
Nevertheless, it is interesting to know that a nutritional balance of essential amino acids could be achieved with vegetable proteins. For example, by combining cereal proteins (generally rich in the essential amino acid methionine, but deficient in lysine) with proteins from a legume such as lentils or chick peas (rich in lysine and arginine, but deficient in methionine), the composition of essential amino acids is improved. However, another essential nutrient for dogs, the B12 vitamin, proven to be essential for the nervous system and many vital functions of the body, cannot be provided by plants.
The bioavailability of a protein refers to how easy it is to for the body to digest it and to use its amino acids. Animal proteins are generally known to have a good bioavailability, but it can differ if the protein comes from plain meat (high bioavailability) or from viscera, tendons or cartilage (often found in cheap commercial pet food = poor bioavailability). It can also differ between animal species (bioavailability of chicken protein is better than beef protein), and interestingly, bioavailability of egg and milk protein is better than meat protein. Although vegetable proteins have lower bioavailability than the ones from animal, it is increased a lot by cooking. Insect protein’s bioavailability is similar to the ones from quality meat, eggs or milk.
The dog is an animal that benefits from a wide range of protein sources in its diet. Animal proteins (such as those found in insects, eggs or milk) remain an important source of essential amino acids, but vegetable proteins from specific plants (pseudocereals, seeds, legumes or certain algae such as spirulina) increase the protein intake and provide additional nutrients that benefit the dogs’ health (fibers, vitamins, minerals).
That is why we, at Eat Small, have selected what is best for dogs: a combination of diversified source of complete proteins and other nutrients, for both our dry food and cold pressed treats. Have your dog try it!
Tasty, healthy, natural.
Tasty, healthy, natural.
Véronique Glorieux is a canadian-board veterinarian who cumulates more than 10 years of medical work and experience with dogs and cats. Animal wellfare and environment are 2 topics that moves her. She lives now in Berlin, where she co-founded Eat Small and uses her experience in a different field of practice. With healthy and sustainable insect-based pet food she aims to support both the health of pets and of the planet.
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