Essential amino acids for Dogs (and Cats)

Humans require 9 amino acids to be provided by their diet. In addition to this, dogs and cats require Arginine as the 10th, and cats also need Taurine as an 11th essential amino acid.

Taurine deficiency has occurred in dogs, specifically from being fed a “complete and balanced” diet which substitutes meat content for grains (for cheaper production). Grains and plant material do not include taurine.

Bioavailability is an important factor, and generally meat-based proteins have a higher bioavailability rating than plant-based proteins.

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The table below details each amino acid, its function, and what animal and plant sources provide it:

Essential Amino Acid Protein Function Animal Sources Plant Sources
Arginine (Arg)

Preventative of cataract development in puppies

Precursor for nitric acid

May prevent heart and kidney disease

Muscle Meat

Dairy

Eggs

Grains

Legumes

Histidine (His)


Growth

Tissue repair

Histamine development

Pork

Poultry

Cheese

Rice

Wheat

Isoleucine (IIe)

Regulates blood sugar

Growth and muscle tissue repair

Hemoglobin development

Energy regulation

Beef

Fish

Poultry

Dairy

Eggs

Almonds

Lentils

Seeds

Soy

Wheat

Methionine (Met)

 May prevent arterial fat buildup

May act as an antioxidant

Promotes collagen synthesis

Beef

Fish

Dairy

Eggs

Beans

Garlic

Lentils

Onions

Soybeans

Leucine (Leu)

Regulates blood sugar

Growth and muscle tissue repair

Hormone production

Wound healing

Energy regulation

Beef

Poultry

Fish

Dairy

Eggs

Almonds

Brown rice

Lentils

Seeds

Soy

Wheat

Lysine (Lys)

Development and regulation of collagen, antibodies, hormones, and enzymes

Promotes calcium absorption

Growth and repair of muscle tissue

Lowers serum triglycerides

Beef

Dairy

Eggs

Fish

Lima beans

Potato

Soy

Yeast

Phenylalanine (Phe)

Neurotransmitter function

Increases blood levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine

 Dairy Almonds

Avocados

Peanuts

Seeds

Taurine (Tau)

Aids prevention of heart disease and blindness Meat (Brain, Heart, Skeletal Muscle)

Fish

Dairy

Eggs

(not available from plant sources)
Threonine (Thr)

 

Antibody production Beef

Poultry

Dairy

Eggs

Beans

Nuts

Seeds

Tryptophan (Trp)

Precursor for serotonin (aids sleep, reduces anxiety)

Niacin production

Beef

Poultry

Dairy

Eggs

Barley

Brown rice

Peanuts

Soy beans

Valine (Val)

Growth and muscle tissue repair

Energy regulation

Niacin production

Beef

Poultry

Dairy

Eggs

Grains

Mushrooms

Nuts

Soy

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References