Have you been struggling to find a solution to your pet’s skin and gastrointestinal problems? If so, then hydrolyzed protein could be the answer. In this blog post, we'll look at why protein is essential for cats and dogs. We'll also explain what hydrolyzed protein is, and why it may be better than regular protein sources for pets with skin or GI issues.
Why Is Protein Important for Cats and Dogs?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that the body requires for a variety of vital functions. It consists of chains of amino acids, which are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. These amino acids perform important functions such as stimulating muscle growth, repairing tissues, and producing hormones and enzymes.
When proteins are digested by the body, they are broken down into amino acids which then enter the bloodstream to be utilized throughout the body. However, some animals have trouble digesting dietary proteins and develop an abnormal immune response. This can lead to a variety of health problems, including skin and gastrointestinal issues.
What Is Hydrolyzed Protein?
Hydrolyzed protein is a form of protein in which the protein molecules are broken down into smaller pieces. This is achieved using a process called hydrolysis, which uses water to split the protein into its component parts. Since the broken-down molecules are so small, they're unlikely to trigger an immune response and are easier for pets to digest. Hydrolyzed protein has also been shown to benefit animals with protein malabsorption diseases, such as protein losing enteropathy.
How Can Hydrolyzed Protein Help Pets with Skin and GI Issues?
Skin and GI issues in pets are often caused by food allergies. This is when a dog or cat has an immunological reaction following food intake. Food allergies cause hypersensitive reactions, which may occur within a few minutes to hours of ingesting the offending antigen (immediate hypersensitivity) or a few days after ingestion (delayed hypersensitivity).
Food allergies usually occur suddenly, even after years of eating the same food component. Any component can cause a reaction, but food allergies in pets are most commonly associated with proteins such as meat, eggs, and dairy.
Common symptoms of food allergies include pruritus (severe itching of the skin) and gastrointestinal upset. These symptoms are similar to those of seasonal allergies but are likely to occur year-round. Gastrointestinal symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and/or increased fecal frequency.
As we mentioned in our last post, Preventing, Treating & Managing Gastrointestinal Diseases in Pets, dietary trials can be useful for diagnosing food allergies and other GI issues in cats and dogs. During a trial diet, a pet is placed on a special diet to see if their symptoms improve. If they do, this indicates that the pet has a food allergy to one or more of the components in their current diet.
Studies have shown that trial diets containing hydrolyzed protein can be used to help diagnose food allergies. This is because hydrolyzed protein is already broken down, making it unlikely to trigger an immunological response in your pet.
Another option is a trial diet that contains a novel protein source (one your pet hasn't been exposed to before). If your pet suffers from skin or GI issues, we recommend discussing these options with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your pet.
How Can I Feed My Pet Hydrolyzed Protein?
Hydrolyzed protein liquid supplements specifically designed for infant feeding or for individuals with malabsorption or GI disorders can be added to your pet's food to provide an easily metabolized source of dietary protein. These can be purchased from health food stores and specialty retailers. When choosing a liquid hydrolyzed protein supplement, be sure to choose one with no sugar or artificial flavors.
If you have a pet with GI issues, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian to determine if adding a liquid hydrolyzed protein supplement may benefit your pet. This is especially important if they're receiving any other medications or have existing health problems that may interfere with their digestion process.
Commercial hydrolyzed protein diets for cats and dogs are another option. However, the quality of these diets can vary, so it's important to research the manufacturers and consult with your holistic veterinarian before making a decision.
Hydrolyzed protein can be useful for diagnosing food allergies in pets. It may also help reduce the severity of associated skin, gastrointestinal, protein malabsorption, or other health issues. However, it's important to note that hydrolyzed protein is not a "miracle cure".
If your pet suffers from food allergies or other conditions associated with an immune response, additional support such as supplements and/or medications may be required. Before beginning a hydrolyzed protein regimen, please consult with your veterinarian to discuss the best treatment plan for your pet.