The Essential Nutrients
Proteins, the “building blocks” of the tissues, are com posed of amino acids. These serve as building material for body, organs, muscles, skin, coat, nails, and blood.
Of the 23 primary amino acids, there are 10 that dogs cannot synthesize within their bodies at an appropriate rate of need. These are called “essential amino acids” because they must be derived from outside animal or plant sources. If a dog is to develop to its full potential, his diet must contain all the essential amino acids in proper balance. Very little protein is stored in the body for immediate use, so each day’s intake is critical.
Carbohydrates consist principally of starch, sugars, and cellulose. They supply energy and fiber to the diet, and help to regulate protein and fat metabolism. Cellulose helps to regulate the resorption of water in the lower digestive tract and regulates the formation and elimination of the feces.
Fats supply essential fatty acids needed for adequate nutrition and normal health. They also supply energy and make food more palatable. Fats are also essential for a healthy skin and shiny coat.
Vitamins are essential for growth, health, and life. They facilitate certain metabolic processes. They also maintain a balance between constructive and destructive cell changes and help dogs to resist disease.
Vitamins are either fat or water soluble. The fat soluble vitaminsA, D, E, and Kare measured in international units and require fat in the diet to be transported and absorbed in the body. The water soluble vitaminsthe B complex group and Care measured in milligrams or micrograms. They are stored sparingly in the dog’s body and require regular replenishing.
Minerals are chemical elements that perform several functions in the dog’s body: they help build teeth and bone, aid muscle and nerve function, and help maintain the bal ance of body fluids. Their actions within the body are interrelated; that is, one mineral’s function depends on another.
Calcium and phosphorus (along with magnesium and vitamin D) are essential for the development of bone and teeth. Iron and copper are needed for good red blood cells. Potassium, sodium, magnesium, and choline help regulate body fluids. Iodine and zinc play vital roles in the hormonal and enzymatic systems.