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Suitability of Ingredients

Not All Animals Can Digest All Ingredients

Consider grass hay for example; an excellent source of nutrients for cows and sheep, but not so good a food source for the likes of us or our dogs and cats for that matter. It boils down to what enzymes are secreted in the saliva and the gut, plus the animal’s ability to ferment food as a part of the digestive process. Herbivorous animals such as cows and sheep have a very high fermentation coefficient, meaning they are quite adept at unlocking nutrients from their vegetarian diet. Us humans have a lower fermentation coefficient, while our dogs and cats, with their much shorter total gut length, possess very little ability to ferment food. To demonstrate this point, it takes between 20 and 30 hours for food to transit the human gut, whereas our dogs transition their food in only 6 to 8 hours.

When it comes to ingredients, there is much discussion as to the value of carbohydrate, or more specifically carbohydrate from grains, in a dog’s diet. Those advocating grain free maintain there is no amylase (the enzyme required to convert carbohydrates to simple sugars) secreted in dog saliva, and therefore the dog cannot digest cereal carbohydrate. Furthermore, the grain free lobby also suggests the modern dog has evolved from the wolf, which, it is claimed, is a true or obligate carnivore. What has actually happened with our domesticated canine friends over the past 15,000 years or so of domestication, is that the dog has adapted more to our way of eating.

Whilst true carnivores are incapable of producing vitamin A, arachidonic acid and taurine (such as cats), our domestic dogs can actually convert beta-carotene from plants to active vitamin A, can produce arachidonic acid from linoleic acid (found in vegetable oils), and can usually meet their lower need for taurine by metabolising the amino acid methionine.

Furthermore, the pancreas actually produces amylase, which allows complex starches to be broken down to simple sugars suitable for digestion, provided of course the carbohydrate level is balanced to the total diet to not over-tax the pancreas. So the evolutionary process has actually developed the dog to be a closer and more suitable companion, and more capable of integrating with our modern way of life.

But one thing is certain; the inclusion of marginal or poorly digested ingredients, in other words, ingredients that are not sympathetic to the animal, will severely impact the ability of the dog to fulfil its nutritional requirements in a meaningful manner.

The overwhelming reason for this is the influence ingredients have on the gut microbiome.

The microbiome consists of over a thousand species of bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit and colonise the gut… the species diversity of one dog’s microbiome is greater than the diversity found in a rain forest. The role played by these gut organisms is pivotal in maintaining a healthy gut environment. They play an indispensable role in the digestive process, in promoting immunity and good health, influencing mood, and the provision of additional nutrients that are essential for the host animal. In fact, the microbiome is essential for life and has developed over the ages in step with the evolution of the animal, so any disruption to the well being of the microbiome has a direct and immediate adverse effect on the animal.

Conversely, the inclusion of ingredients in the food that are sympathetic to the needs of the microbiome ensures the maximum benefit is extracted from the food at the same time as maximising the dog’s immunity, well-being and happiness.

Should you require additional information or would like to comment on any of the above, please email us at or

Bill Wiadowski 

Watch Bill discuss and answer questions on Pet Nutrition on our YouTube Channel

Our Guarantee

​What you choose to feed your cherished pet is one of the most important decisions you can make. We are dedicated to upholding the highest standards of nutritional integrity and food safety, and it’s why we make every Performadog Premium Performance bag in Australia, using some of the best manufacturing systems in the world. To assure our quality, our factory, ingredients, processes and foods meet the strictest standards, and our ingredient suppliers are approved and audited.

Our Production and Quality Assurance Teams apply strict and rigorous standards.

At all stages of production and preparation, we utilise both Good Manufacturing Principals — a worldwide system for the control and management of manufacturing and quality testing of foods, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Analysis (HACCP) — an internationally recognised and systematic preventive approach to food safety. Our fresh regional ingredients truly meet the AAFCO definition for ‘fresh” and standards.

Our quality management systems extend well beyond our factory going forward to our distributor partners and back to our ingredient suppliers, who we know and trust. All meat ingredients are approved by the Australia Government and produced exclusively from animals classified ‘fit for human consumption.’

Our fresh meats are produced within our region in dedicated, approved human grade facilities.

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