When inspecting each essential nutrient in a dog's diet, it is very important to look at the other nutrients they affect or that affect them. The nutrients that work together are the NUTRITIONAL TEAMS. We all recognize the teamwork between water and solid foods in the dog's diet. If either one is not present, we know the result will be death due to a lack of an essential part of the dog's diet. On the other hand, if we present any one part of the team in quantities that are too far out of proportion to the other parts, we can have the same disastrous results. Balancing all the parts of a nutritional team is the most important factor for formulating a proper diet for any dog. The complete nutritional team for canine nutrition consists of solids and liquids. These can be broken down to include: protein, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, enzymes, fiber, fatty acids, carbohydrates, bacteria, and water. Then each part of the complete nutritional team can be broken down into a team of its own.
The Dogs Protein Team:
Protein consists of building blocks called amino acids. It is the balance of ten specific amino acids that give dietary protein its bionutritive value. The ten essential amino acids are; Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Histidine, Argine, and Lysine. All ten of these must be present within
the protein for a dog to receive any use of the protein at all. Other amino acids that are considered non essential amino acids are; Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glysine,
Proline, Serine and Tyrosine. The non-essential amino acids can be produced by the dog (in vivo) and therefore are not required in the dog's bulk food intake. The essential amino acids are the ones that must be
in their food.
The Dogs Mineral Team:
The minerals essential for canine nutrition consist of Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc. The common practice of adding one team member (Calcium) to a dog's diet by pet owners often produces the best example of the danger of imbalancing a nutritional team. This practice provides quantities of calcium that are too far out of proportion to the other team members. There have been many studies done that show adding calcium without the proper balance of the rest of its team mates can deform the skeletal structure in puppies. These studies are those most often used by nutritionists working for dog food companies to show the dangers of supplementing their "balanced" allbreed dog food. This team is also directly linked to the vitamins that are fat soluble and the balance between these two teams is extremely important.
The Trace Dogs Mineral Team:
This team is directly related to both the mineral and vitamin teams. The trace mineral team consists of; Cobalt, Molybdenum, Copper, Fluorine, Iron, Arsenic, Magnesium, Zinc, Chromium, and Manganese. As you can see, many trace minerals appear to be the same as those listed as minerals. The main difference between those with the same name but found in a different category is their molecular configuration. Due to the unique molecular configuration of trace minerals they are very fragile. For example; the simple stone grinding process of wheat flour can cause from 70% to 90% of the natural trace mineral Iron to be destroyed. However, the same process would have little effect on the mineral form of Iron.
The Dogs enzyme team:
The enzyme team consists of Lypase, Amylase, and Trypsin. The dog's Pancreas secretes these enzymes into the intestines where they perform their team functions. Enzymes, like the nonessential amino acids of proteins that are produced by the dog in vivo, are not required in a healthy dog's bulk food intake. However, when supplemental enzymes are required, it is very important that they are manufactured in such a manner as to be released in the proper place within the dog's digestive system. The pancreas secretes its digestive enzymes into the digestive system when the food has already been exposed to several other digestive processes. By the time the food is exposed to the enzymes, the teeth have torn the food into smaller size, the acids and bacteria of the digestive system have started their work on the food, and so forth.
The Dogs Fiber Team:
The fiber team is one of those teams that is often overlooked. However, the work it performs plays a major function in canine nutrition. Fiber is responsible for slowing the food's movement throughout the digestive system, thus allowing each part of that system the time to perform its function properly. Also fiber and bacteria join in the dogs gut to produce vitamin K.
One important thing to consider with fiber is how it differs by source. A wild carnivore may add fiber to its diet by eating the bark of a tree or grasses such as wheat or oats. The major differences here would be that
tree bark will not swell in the gut like oats. Oats can swell up to ten times in size when they come into contact with a canine's gastric juices. Note: swelling of fiber can cause a problem if there are large quantities of this
fiber from the wrong source in the dog's dietary intake. The swelling can produce a bulk within the intestine, which can impact the system. On the other hand, some sources of fiber that do not swell, like that from tree
bark, may not allow the proper growth of bacteria in a dog's gut for that dog's in vivo production of vitamin K. It is very important to match the fiber source in the dietary intake of a dog with sources found in the
breed's native environment.
The Dogs Fatty Acid Team:
There are three fatty acids a dog must have to be able to produce the arachidonic acids that its body requires. The three fatty acids are: Oleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, and Linoleic Acid. All three are found together in any natural source containing what is called the Alpha Linolenate family. The classic symptom of a fatty acid deficiency is a dry and brittle coat. The breeds that produce skin oils also will require a different balance of this team than those breeds that do not produce skin oils. The fatty acid team should not be confused with "fat", which is more a source of nutritional carbohydrates. However, some types of animal fats do contain both carbohydrates and small amounts of the fatty acids. Vegetables and grains such as wheat bran, corn, linseed, or soy beans normally contain the highest concentrations of the Alpha Linolenate family.