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Animal-based Protein is the Perfect Gift for Your Pet

By Maury Docton, DVM

Protein has many functions in a pet’s body, but it is best known for supplying amino acids, the building blocks of hair, skin, muscles, and internal organs. Protein also plays a major role in hormone and enzyme production. The protein in pet foods can be supplied by animal sources, plant sources, or a combination of the two. Common animal-based protein sources include: Chicken, Egg, Fish, Lamb and Beef. Common plant-based sources include soy and plant glutens (corn gluten, rice gluten, wheat gluten). It has long been known that cats are obligate carnivores, or meat eaters, primarily because of their dietary requirement for the amino acid taurine. Taurine was proven to be essential for normal eye function and heart function in cats in the mid-1970’s and late 1980’s.i

Although dogs are considered to be omnivores; therefore, not having a dietary requirement for taurine, there have been numerous reports of dogs becoming taurine deficient when fed high levels of plant proteins or low quality animal-based proteins.ii It has long been our belief, first as the Iams Company and now as P&G Pet Care, that dogs and cats are best fed as carnivores – high quality animal-based proteins naturally supply taurine in the levels to support their nutritional needs.

Consider This

Recent studies by P&G Pet Care examined how the type of protein in a diet affected body composition of adult and senior dogs. We compared two different diets in adult dogs. Group A was fed a diet with 100% chicken protein. Group B was fed a diet with corn gluten meal in increased levels to replace the chicken protein. The result for the adult dogs in Group B had:

  • Increases in body fat
  • Decreased lean muscle tissue
  • Decreased levels of some blood proteins (Routinely used as markers of superior nutritional status)

The level of protein did not affect the outcome when different levels were compared (12 or 28%).

Senior dogs fed a 32% protein, chicken–based diet had better body and muscle composition than those fed a diet including corn gluten meal. The muscle to fat ratios of the senior dogs fed the all chicken-based diet were identical to those of healthy young adult dogs.

Again, these studies show that although dogs are omnivores, we believe the evidence proves they are best fed on a diet rich in animal-based proteins. Animal-based proteins contain a full complement of essential amino acids necessary to build, repair and sustain healthy muscle and tissue. Proteins coming from strictly vegetable sources do not contain all of the essential amino acids.

At P&G Pet Care we take our mission of “Enhancing the well-being of dogs and cats...” very seriously. Fad diets and unsubstantiated nutritional trends will come and go; we will continue to produce diets proven to benefit dogs & cats. We have over 60 years of nutritional research to back–up our products.


i Sanderson, S. Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) p.1326.
ii Ibid, p.1330-1331.
iii Data on file. The Iams Company 2001 presented as abstract at ACVIM Denver, co 2001.
iv Ibid.
v Ibid.