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Tryptophan - what is it and how can it help my dog?

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Tryptophan is one of 20 amino acids, which form the building blocks of protein. Dietary protein and amino acids are vital for the growth and maintenance of dogs. Their functions include:

  • Providing the structure of tissue and cells,
  • The production of hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for regulating body function,
  • Enzyme production for metabolism and other cellular reactions,
  • Antibody production and other immune roles, and
  • Being an alternate energy source to carbohydrates.

Tryptophan is unique as it is one of 10 essential amino acids (11 in cats) in dogs. Meaning it cannot be synthesised or constructed from other amino acids and must be present in the diet in the quantities required by the animal.

The role of Tryptophan in dogs.

Of the functions amino acids are required for, tryptophan in dogs is of particular importance for the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. It is a vital precursor for the synthesis of a number compounds including:
  • Melatonin (hormone) – responsible for the regulation of physiological functions related to daylight and length including, sleep and seasonal reproduction,
  • Serotonin (neurotransmitter) – involved in the regulation of a number of important pathways including, mood, sleep and appetite, and
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – deficiencies of Niacin result in anorexia, weight loss, and ulcerative lesions of the mouth in dogs.

Recently a lot of work has been done looking at the role of tryptophan in serotonin production and the effect that supplementation of tryptophan can have on mood and behavior modification in dogs.

Along with dietary control of protein intake, tryptophan supplementation has been shown to reduce dominance aggression and territorial aggression. Additionally, elevated serotonin blood levels have been shown to reduce the incidence of other behaviour disorders such as separation and travel anxiety.

Related product:

  • PAW Complete Calm Chews
    Tasty kangaroo based chews that contain 25-50% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for key B group vitamins for general health & wellbeing including normal nervous function, antioxidants to maintain the immune system and additional tryptophan for positive balanced health.