Saturday, May 30, 2009

Canine nutrition: Energy for Dogs

Energy for Dogs is required for practically all life processes, for the action of the heart, maintenance of blood pressure, muscle repair, growth, normal body maintenance, transmission of nerve impulses, ion transport across membranes, protein and fat synthesis and the production of power. A deficiency in energy is normally seen as stunted growth, body fat reserve losses and a lower production of power and speed. Sometimes energy deficiencies go undetected and not corrected for extended periods of time and not until loss of condition, making visual identification easier, does correction take place. It is common knowledge that dog diets must contain protein, fat & carbohydrates. Although each of them have specific functions in maintaining a normal body, all of them can be used as energy.

Fat for dogs
Fats are concentrated forms of energy. Compared to protein and carbohydrates, fats contain approximately two and a half times the amount of energy per pound, so adding a little bit of fat adds a lot of calories. It is also the delivery vehicle for omega fatty acids important to healthy skin and coat.

Fat also supplies the essential fatty acids required by dogs for maintaining healthy skin and hair coat and serves as a carrier for fat soluble vitamins. Linoleic acid is one of the fatty acids dogs can get from vegetable oils or animal fat , is considered essential because it cannot be made in the body and is required to be supplied by the diet.

Although fatty acid deficiencies are rare, animals fed diets too low in fat may eventually develop deficiency symptoms including dry, coarse hair and flaky, dry and thickened skin.

In animals fed diets containing more fat than is needed, extra fat is generally stored in the body. If enough fat is accumulated over time, animals will become obese. Animals carrying excessive amounts of weight may be at greater risk for other complications. While fat is not a bad thing for your dog to eat, you should watch your dog’s fat intake.

Carbohydrates for dogs
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and dietary fiber. The primary function of most carbohydrates is to provide energy, while fiber has a number of other functions.

Simple sugars are the smallest sugar molecules and are easily digested and absorbed. By contrast, starches or complex carbohydrates are combinations of simple sugars formed into long chains that have to be broken down by additional digestion before they can be used.

Basically, the carbohydrates in dog food are supplied by cereal grains which are broken down into simple sugars. While there aren’t specific minimum requirements for carbohydrates for dogs, they are useful as a ready source of energy.

When animals consume diets containing more carbohydrates than are needed, the excess energy is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles and is converted to fat. During periods of fasting, stress, or exercise, glycogen is broken down to glucose and delivered to the bloodstream to provide needed energy.

Carbohydrates that are not completely digested cause or are associated with persistent gastrointestinal upset, including gas and/or diarrhea. The most common carbohydrate malabsorption problem is an inability to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk

Contributed by Canine Caviar

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