Food Chemistry 101

PROTEIN

There are three primary sources of protein in our foods: chicken, fish and egg, as well as a secondary source, oatmeal. Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods supply a quality mix of diverse proteins from air, sea and land sources.

What is protein? First, a little chemistry - think of protein as a compound and not a "food", like cheese or meat, at this point. Proteins are made when amino acids join together, like building blocks. All amino acids are naturally occurring, but some must be supplied by diet; amino acids supplied by diet are called essential amino acids. Whew. There are many different proteins in dogs' bodies and each have their own job, such as generating hair, cartilage and tendons, transporting oxygen in the blood, moving muscles, regulating metabolism (energy use), storing nutrients, and even producing hormones, to name a few. As you can see, proteins have a big job and in order for the correct proteins to be built, you have to supply the correct amino acids.

In comes chicken. It's a protein source that naturally provides each of the amino acid building blocks that are essential in this nutritional construction project. Low ash chicken meal is highly digestible and a proud addition to our food.

What is low ash herring meal? Herring is a type of fish from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great source of high quality protein and fatty acids.

I know what eggs are, but why include them? Eggs are the most balanced source of protein available, hands down. They are the benchmark against which all other protein sources are measured; they are the best source of high quality protein.

Oatmeal is a protein? Oatmeal is a source of vegetable protein, which rounds out the protein profile in Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods.

FATS

The fats used in Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods are derived from low ash chicken, canola oil, salmon oil, dehydrated egg product, chicken and flaxseed meal.

Why so much fat in Momentum, Pursuit, and Kinesis? More chemistry: calories are energy, and energy comes from three sources: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Working, active dogs use a lot of energy. Fat has a whopping nine calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates' tidy four calories per gram. Simply put, fat has more energy bang for its buck. In a very elementary way, energy derived from fats leads to increased oxidation in muscle, which leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide in the muscle. Carbon dioxide makes a muscle feel fatigued; oxidation will aid in stamina. It's better for the endurance athlete to burn fat because it's a concentrated energy source, and because our foods are very calorie-dense/high fat foods, your dog doesn't need to eat as much to ingest the proper amount of calories. This decreases the chance of diarrhea from volume overload and decreases your need to buy a lot of dog food; the food is economical, and less to clean up in the dog yard!

What are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids? Remember essential amino acids? Some fats are 'essentials', too (recall that essential means it must be supplied by the diet); Omega-6 fatty acid, or Linoleic acid, is the essential fatty acid for canines. Proper ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids provide tremendous benefits such as reduced inflammatory injuries and your dog's skin, coat and kidneys rely on them as well. Dr. Tim's uses canola oil (aka rape seed oil), salmon oil and flaxseed meal (the ground seed of the flax plant) to deliver all the balanced fatty acids.

Good tasting fat equals palatability, too; that's why we've included chicken fat sort of like why we eat bacon with fried liver and onions.

Fats also aid in the transportation of certain vitamins; vitamins A and D hitch a ride on fat.

Why do we list eggs under fats, too? Eggs are an excellent source of essential fatty acids.

CARBOHYDRATES

Dr. Tim's uses oatmeal and rice as our primary carbohydrate sources. Oatmeal and rice are both highly digestible, good sources of energy and nutritionally balanced.

Why include carbohydrates in the diet if fat is the important energy source? Although fats are a very concentrated energy source, carbohydrates are an important energy source, too. Rice is a highly digestible, easily available energy source and oatmeal is used because of its impact on regulating blood glucose. Blood glucose is the primary energy source for many bodily functions, and there are less blood glucose fluctuations after a meal containing oatmeal than with other carbohydrate sources. Steady blood glucose levels are what we want, hence the oatmeal and rice.

FIBER

Sources of fiber in Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods include shredded beet pulp, dried chicory root, psyllium, flaxseed meal, oatmeal and rice.

What is fiber? Why is fiber good? There are several ways to classify fiber. One way to distinguish fibers are by their soluble and insoluble properties. Soluble fiber dissolves, whereas insoluble fiber does not. Because soluble fiber takes longer to make its way through the intestine, it permits water absorption and aids in controlling diarrhea. Insoluble fiber absorbs water also and makes for an easier to pass stool if constipation is an issue. Fiber can also be classified as either non-fermentable or fermentable. As it's broken down in the intestine, fermentable fiber energizes the cells that line the intestine; non-fermentable fiber holds its shape and as a result helps move wastes along. By the way - fermented fiber turns to carbon dioxide, volatile fatty acids and combustible gases. That's why we ride with the windows rolled down if there are dogs in the car. Fiber keeps dogs regular and is essential for the prevention and control of diarrhea during stressful situations.

What is beet pulp? Beet pulp is a moderately fermentable fiber and comes from sugar beets. After the sugar has been extracted from the sugar beet, the remaining material is beet pulp. Beet pulp is an excellent source of fiber. It is also a prebiotic.

What is psyllium? How do psyllium husks work? Psyllium is a plant, and its seeds are so tiny they are sometimes called "flea seeds". Surrounding these tiny seeds are the psyllium husks. When the psyllium husk comes in contact with liquid in the intestinal tract, it swells up, absorbing waste material and water. As these psyllium sponges work their way south, they're picking up toxins, too. The end result (no pun intended) is an easily passed stool. Psyllium, as it breaks down, feeds the good bacteria in your dog's colon, too! Hooray! It is also a prebiotic.

Flaxseed meal? We include flaxseed meal primarily for the fatty acid contribution, but it's also a source of fiber.

Oatmeal and rice are fiber, too? They wear many hats. Oatmeal and rice are also carbohydrates, and oatmeal contributes protein, too.

What is Inulin (Chicory Root Extract)? Inulin, also known as endive and used in salads, further stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria and contributes to a healthy digestive tract by driving out pathogens like E coli. It also aids in the reduction of gas, which is important to large-breed dogs.

PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS

What are they? How do they work? Prebiotics and probiotics are included in our food to maintain and/or restore a healthy digestive system in your dog.

Prebiotics, although carbohydrates, are not the starchy or sugary type of carbohydrates we typically think of; prebiotic carbohydrates occur naturally in many plants. Although these carbs dodge digestion, the by-product (chemistry: short-chain fatty acids) from their partial fermentation provides vigor for cells lining the colon and favorable bacteria, and aside from aiding probiotic activity, they also help prevent the increase of undesirable bacteria and help do away with unwelcome pathogens. Prebiotics are essential in situations where stress diarrhea is an issue. Dr. Tim's uses all natural chicory root, psyllium and beet pulp as proven prebiotics.

Bacteria, good and bad, live in the digestive tract, and a variety of circumstances can upset that balance of bacteria, such as antibiotic use, illness or stress. If, when this happens, you are able to re-introduce good bacteria to the digestive tract, your dog is quickly on the way to feeling better, but where can we find good bacteria? Shake hands with probiotics; probiotics are live cultures akin to what you'd find in yogurt. Good bacteria. And to ensure the probiotics are well fed and excited, enter prebiotics; the job of the prebiotic is to nourish and stimulate the hustle and bustle of good bacteria in the colon.

Probiotics are cultures of live microorganisms (microbials) that flourish in the intestine and restore colonic health that may have been compromised due to antibiotic use or stress diarrhea. Dried microbial fermentation products (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus faicium and Bifidobacterium thermophilum) are the food's probiotic source.

These are externally applied to maximize survivability during processing.

Probiotics and prebiotics are a wonderful daily addition to your dog's diet as a protective measure; you'll see the benefits after feeding these products for a time.

WHAT ARE THOSE OTHER INGREDIENTS IN THE FOOD? I can't even pronounce some of them; why would I feed them to my pets? You mean the vitamins, minerals, chelated minerals, kelp, carnitine, antioxidants, and preservatives?

Brace yourself for a little more chemistry and a nice surprise about our preservatives. Please keep in mind that although chemical names sound ominous, there's a reason: prefixes, suffixes, numerals and letters attached to a word or string of words all indicate at a glance how much, in what order and how a substance is "made". And we're all familiar with some scary sounding chemicals, too, like chlorine - a green, poisonous gas. But did you know that chlorine, when combined with a particular soft metal, would be something you'd eat every day? Sure! Its table salt; NaCl. Sodium chloride. Go figure.

VITAMINS, MINERALS AND PRESERVATIVES

Bodies need vitamins and minerals to facilitate chemical reactions and absorb fats and carbohydrates.

Vitamins

Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble; fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissue and excess water-soluble vitamins are excreted. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K (menadione). Your dog's tissue, eye, cell, blood and bone health and immune system will benefit from these vitamins, and even help ward off rickets! Water-soluble vitamins are riboflavin, B12, B6 (pyridoxine) and B1 (thiamine).

The vitamins used in Momentum, Pursuit, and Kinesis are supplied by the DSM Company as a pre-mixed ingredient called "OVN"; OVN (Optimal Vitamin Nutrition) is designed to support and maintain optimal skin, coat and paw pad health via high quality vitamins that are safe, bioavailable and stable through food manufacturing and storage. OVN is a trademark of DSM Nutritional Products.

Here's a rundown of OVN's benefits:

Energy supply:

  • Vitamin B1 is vital for releasing energy from starchy foods
  • Vitamin B2, B6 and niacin help release energy from proteins and fat
  • Vitamin B12 and folic acid are involved in the formation of red blood cells and therefore key to high performance

Build and repair:

  • Vitamin C supports the metabolism in building and maintaining body structures like bones, tissues and blood cells
  • Vitamin D, K and Biotin strengthen bone and skin structures

Defense and protection:

  • Vitamin A, C and E are powerful antioxidants protecting organs and tissue from damage by free radicals
  • Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system

Regulation of activity:

  • B-group vitamins and choline are of major importance for high metabolic activity (like running a marathon) and the synthesis of neurotransmitters
  • A balanced vitamin nutrition contributes to weight control, high performance and physiological strength

Minerals

Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods include iron sulfate, zinc oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, manganous oxide, manganese amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, copper sulfate, cobalt carbonate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide and sodium selenite. By the way: zinc deficiency is a known problem in northern breed dogs; Momentum includes two sources of zinc (zinc oxide and zinc amino acid chelate) to combat this.

Chelated Minerals

Chelated means "of, relating to, or having a ring structure that usually contains a metal ion held by coordinating bonds". Huh? Minerals are not readily absorbed, if at all, in their natural state, so...remember amino acids back in the protein section? When amino acids get together with minerals, they help reorganize the structure of the mineral and cloak it in an amino acid covering so it can be absorbed by the body. So now you know what chelated means, sort of, in case anybody asks you.

Kelp Meal

Kelp, a sea vegetable, keeps your dog's coat healthy and is loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. We include kelp as a natural source of vitamin K.

Yucca Schidigera

This is a flavor enhancer and may exhibit some anti-inflammatory effects within a dog. Plus, your dogs' feces will smell better.

Carnitine

Found only in animal-based sources of protein, carnitine (a vitamin, of sorts) exploits fat to make energy rather than glycogen, which is an energy back-up stored in muscles. Ninety-five percent of carnitine in dogs is squirreled away in muscles - most notably, cardiac muscles; serious exercise may decrease the carnitine supply normally stockpiled. When this happens, glycogen is called to action, and glycogen use leads to lactic acid build-up and that leads to muscle fatigue and cramping. That's why we've included carnitine.

Antioxidants

The chemical changes necessary in cells to provide energy also produce oxygen by-products, or free radicals. Free radicals are the natural by-products of cell change; smoke, radiation and other environmental factors can trigger cell change and the resulting free radicals, too. What does this have to do with antioxidants? Well, free radicals have an unpaired electron, and if there's one thing an unpaired electron wants it's another electron. Sometimes (worst case scenario) when free radicals find electron love the result can be rapid cell division; free radicals can also harass healthy cells, leading to damaged or dying cells. Not good. Antioxidants round up or stabilize free radicals before they become home-wreckers. A better immune system, less allergies and decreased risk of infection have all been attributed to antioxidant use. Vitamins A, C (ascorbic acid), B 12 and E are used as antioxidants in our food.

Preservatives

Preservatives are required to prevent rancidity. Dr. Tim's Premium All Natural Dog Foods is an extremely high-fat diet requiring a combination of preservatives to maintain freshness. The preservative system in the food is a special blend and application of mixed tocophorals, citric acid, rosemary extract and vitamins. There are no artificial preservatives used in our foods.

What are tocophorals?

Tocophorals are antioxidants extracted from vegetable oils. There are four major types of tocophorals, and one common type is alpha tocophoral, generally referred to as vitamin E. A unique mixture of tocophorals protects against rancidity in the food.

Rosemary Extract

Really! It's used as a preservative.