Elevate Your Dog’s Food Beyond Simple Nutrition

Welcome to ‘Ingredients with a Purpose’ - a series of science informed articles on the role the ingredients in your dog’s food plays in achieving their best health and wellbeing at every stage of their precious lives at the same time helping to reduce the environmental impact feeding them has on our precious planet.

We understand there are a LOT of options when it comes to what you feed your dog. We also understand you want to offer them the best food possible, and labels can be confusing. The goal of this series is to give you clear insight into the reason for the inclusion of every ingredient in our super premium food, the role it plays and what is necessary to guarantee you are feeding your dog an all-natural, complete, and balanced, diet.

These are the key elements necessary for positive nutrition.

Protein, Fats & Carbohydrates, Fibres, Vitamins & Minerals, Essential Fatty Acids, Superfoods, Amino Acids, Prebiotics & Probiotics

Amino Acids – Your Dog Must Get 10 of Them from Their Food

When selecting a dog food, pet parents often focus on protein, and so we should!

Protein plays many crucial roles in your dog’s body including:

  • the growth and maintenance of their muscle, hair, and nails
  • transporting nutrients around their body
  • their immune system functions
  • the production of vital hormones and enzymes

It is not the level of protein that is important for your dog - although adult dogs require a minimum of 18% on a dry matter basis and puppies and nursing mothers 22.5% (what remains after all of the moisture is extracted from dog food), it is the levels of amino acids that is in their food that is key to their optimum nutrition and health. 

The basic units of proteins are amino acids There are many amino acids of which 20 are unique and have been genetically coded with each containing carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and sometimes sulphur in different quantities and configurations.

The good news is you don’t have to worry about half of these! Your dog’s body makes 10 of these themselves without you having to worry what it is you feed them. These are known as nonessential amino acids.

The remaining 10 your dog cannot make and must get from the food they eat. These are called essential amino acids.

It is the correct balance and levels of these essential amino acids your dog needs to maintain their best health and vitality.

Essential Amino Acids:

Amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group.

Your dog’s body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly. Though all 20 of these are important for their health, only 10 amino acids are classified as essential.  These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, arginine and valine.

Unlike nonessential amino acids, essential amino acids can’t be made by your dog’s body and must be obtained through their diet.


Though often associated with causing drowsiness, tryptophan has many other functions. It’s needed to maintain proper nitrogen balance and is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, sleep and mood and can also help burn more body fat. It achieves this by increasing production of one of the body’s main feel-good hormones, serotonin. (7)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Tryptophan:


Threonine is a principal part of structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, which are important components of the skin and connective tissue. It also plays a role in fat metabolism and immune function (6)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Threonine:


Lysine plays major roles in protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production and the absorption of calcium. It’s also important for energy production, immune function and the production of collagen and elastin (11)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Lysine:


Like valine, leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that is critical for protein synthesis and muscle repair. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, stimulates wound healing and produces growth hormones (9)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Leucine:


The last of the three branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine is involved in muscle metabolism and is heavily concentrated in muscle tissue. It’s also important for immune function, haemoglobin production and energy regulation (10)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Isoleucine:


Histidine is used to produce histamine, a neurotransmitter that is vital to immune response, digestion, sexual function and sleep-wake cycles. It’s critical for maintaining the myelin sheath, a protective barrier that surrounds your nerve cells (12)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Histidine:


Valine is one of three branched-chain amino acids, meaning it has a chain branching off to one side of its molecular structure. Valine helps stimulate muscle growth and regeneration and is involved in energy production (5)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Valine:


Phenylalanine is a precursor for the neurotransmitters tyrosine, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. It plays an integral role in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes and the production of other amino acids (4)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Phenylalanine:


In the body, the amino acid arginine changes into nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and also improves circulation.  Some evidence shows that arginine may help improve blood flow in the arteries of the heart (5)

Plant-Based Foods rich in Arginine:


Ergothioneine is a remarkable antioxidant with unparalleled health-promoting benefits.  Discovered in 1909, ergothioneine is a sulphur-containing amino acid that is synthesized only by mushrooms and by fungi and mycobacteria in the soil.

Ergothioneine functions as a “master antioxidant” in our bodies where it is transported to cells throughout the body to fight damage and death from oxidative stress and toxic free radicals. 

Ergothioneine is unique in that it is the only currently known dietary substance that has a specific gene and transport system, the Ergothioneine Transporter (ETT), a unique transport system that enables ergothioneine to be actively transported across the cell membrane and into the cell.

Ergothioneine is also unique in that it has a very long half-life in the body–around 30 days as compared to the 30 seconds to 30 minutes of many antioxidants.

Plant-Based Foods rich in Ergothioneine include:


Nonessential means that your dog’s body can produce the amino acid, even if they do not get it from the food they eat. Nonessential amino acids include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

You won’t find mention of essential amino acids on most dog food labels. So, how can you know that a particular diet provides them all?

FEDIAF/AAFCO standards provide guidance as to the levels of all ten essential amino acids that a dog food must contain to keep dogs healthy. At the very least make sure that you can find an FEDIAF/AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on the label of any food you offer your dog.

At Bonza we aim to be completely transparent not just about our natural ingredients, and the levels of their inclusion in our premium superfood for dogs, but also by providing you with a complete breakdown of all the macro and micronutrients our food contains against the minimum (and maximum) FEDIAF/AAFCO nutritional guidelines[GL1] .

Nutrition Is Key

The number one thing we can do for our dogs is giving them food that enables their body and mind to flourish.

Much like us, the healthier your dog’s lifestyle, the more likely they’ll be able to fight off any disease or infection. Often the food we feed our dogs is not doing them justice. It’s filled with artificial flavours, low-quality protein sources, and not enough fibre.

Bonza is a Veterinary nutritionist -developed food that is a varied protein, high fibre source of complete and balanced natural nutrition.

Our food is full of potent phytonutrients, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, only found in plant-based ingredients, that help to fight off disease and increase their immunity as well as providing nutraceutical support for the most likely health issues your dog is likely to face as they age – digestive, joint and mobility, skin and coat, oral and dental, heart and cardiovascular, brain and cognitive, eye and energy and fatigue.

Bonza is formulated to deliver the optimum balance of amino acids together with PhytoPlus®, a proprietary blend of superfoods, super herbs and botanicals, designed to support your dog living its longest, carefree life all the while reducing the harm to the planet of feeding them.

Bonza. Nose to Tail Good Health.

[GL1]Links to table Bonza /FEDIAF/AAFCO

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