Yeast: The Protein Powering Your Pup
Category_Dog Blog
The Vet's Corner

Yeast: The Protein Powering Your Pup

by Wes Chang
Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth Everything you need to know about yeast in dog food. The secret behind our high-protein, meat-free dog food is our top ingredient: Yeast. Dried yeast is a superfood that powers our nutritious complete-and-balanced dog food. Let’s take a closer look inside the cell walls of yeast to discover what makes this ingredient incredibly healthy for your dog. It’s yeast, after all, that gives us bread and beer – both reasons enough to sing its praises from the rooftops. Yeast is also an absolute superfood, packed with protein, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals. (Tragically, the same cannot be said for beer and bread.) Let’s focus on one of the most exciting aspects of yeast’s profile: its potent protein punch.

More Protein than Beef

For our first order of business, we have to debunk the myth about meat. Many dog owners mistakenly believe that meat is the best, most complete source of protein out there. (Meat, incidentally, has a great PR team). That’s not entirely true. According to USDA data, calorie for calorie, yeast contains more protein than any meat product. By weight, yeast is 45-49% protein, whereas beef is only 24%-26%. Leveraging yeast, we can ensure your dog gets all the protein (and amino acids) they need. Interestingly enough, dogs do not actually have a protein requirement, but rather they have a requirement for amino acids. There are 20 amino acids which can come together in a wide variety of numbers and sequences to make different proteins with different functions.Here are some basics about how protein works and why it’s so important for your dog:
  • When dogs eat protein, their digestive system breaks the proteins into amino acid “building blocks.”
  • Amino acids are classified as essential vs non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that must be obtained through a dog’s diet, and include: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Non-essential amino acids can be synthesized by the body. There are 10 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids.
  • A dog’s body uses ten essential amino acids to build different protein molecules. These proteins are used to grow and maintain muscle, fur and nails; produce hormones; transport nutrients; and aid in the functioning of the immune system.
High-quality yeast protein contains all 10 of the essential amino acids a dog needs. The evidence is growing: Yeast beats meat in terms of nutrient density, better for the environment, eliminating factory farms, and overall health.

Yeast is Better for Our Planet and Animals

Not only is yeast protein-packed, but yeast is incredibly sustainable to produce. It grows abundantly and quickly, going from start to finished product in about three days - all on a diet of sugar that places significantly less load on precious environmental resources than raising livestock or poultry. Yeast production and plant proteins create far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than raising animals for food. This means you can feel good knowing you’re helping reduce climate change and eliminating animal cruelty by feeding Wild Earth dog food.

The Wonder of Cell Walls

One of the many reasons that plant- and yeast-based proteins are healthier for dogs lies within the cell walls. Animal proteins lack cellular walls, which means they lack key nutrients of yeast. Stored within the walls of yeast and fungal proteins (koji) are unique healthy fibers called beta-glucans. In human research, beta-glucans are known to have antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-allergic, anti-osteoporotic, and immunomodulating activities. Research on dogs over the past decade has shown the beta-glucans contained within yeast:
  1. Improve overall disease resistance
  2. Enhance vaccine efficacy
  3. Aid immunity against infections, cancer, and improve wound healing among others by increasing leukocytes (white blood cells)
  4. Reduce chronic inflammation
While the mechanism of action for how beta-glucans improve health in dogs is complex, in simplest terms, immune cells have specific receptors to recognize and bind these beta-glucans, boosting immune responses. Newer research shows beta-glucans may also provide a positive impact on health by increasing the richness and diversity of the gut microbiome.

Tasty Yeast Proteins

Another yeast superpower is its rich, savory taste. Umami is the Japanese word used to describe the unique flavor, and dogs go wild for it! If you’re wondering, “umami” means “a pleasant savory taste.” Chances are you’re familiar with the flavor if you enjoy soy sauce, miso soup, or mushrooms. Rich, dense, and smoky, we believe yeast proteins and koji help make our high protein dog food both nutritious and delicious! Basically, yeast is the total package. Not only is it straight-up delicious, but it’s dense with nutrients that keep our dogs healthy and thriving. References Phillips-Donaldson, D. (2018). Pet food protein: How much is too much? Adventures in Pet Food. Pet Food Industry. Available at: Böswald, L. F., Kienzle, E. & Dobenecker, B. (2018). Observation about phosphorus and protein supply in cats and dogs prior to the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 102, 31-36. Hyogo, H. & Yamagishi, S. (2008). Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and their involvement in liver disease. Curr Pharm Des, 14, 969-972. Osher Center for Integrative Medicine (UCSF). Animal Protein and Cancer Risk. Available at: Greger, M. (2016) Animal protein compared to cigarette smoking. Nutrition Facts. Available at: Snyderwine, E. G. & Schut, H. a. J. (1999). DNA adducts of heterocyclic amine food mutagens: implications for mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis, 20, 353-368. National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. Available at: Van Rooijen, C. et al. (2013). The Maillard reaction and pet food processing: effects on nutritive value and pet health. Nutr Res Rev, 26, 130-148. Arendt, M. et al. (2014). Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes. Animal Genetics, 45, 716-722.

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