Carnitine in Food for Obese Dogs

Due to its properties to metabolize and use fatty acids (fat) more efficiently, L-carnitine has been used for years in slimming programs.

Being an amino acid, and therefore a nutrient, not a drug, carnitine can be used more safely and with fewer concerns about overdoses.

From athletes who use it to increase their performance by incorporating fat into their mitochondria more efficiently, to heart disease patients, to people who want to lose weight more quickly and effectively, carnitine has become the “go-to amino acid” and has even found its way into pet food.

Mammals produce this amino acid in sufficient quantity, and it is found in abundance in all muscles, hence the prefix “carni” in its name from the Latin, “carnis”. So, if it is in sufficient quantity in the body, is it still advisable to supplement the food with carnitine?

As carnitine is mainly found in meat, this is its main source. But not all meats contain it in the same amount, for example, beef and lamb have the highest levels, reaching 600 to 2,000 mg/kg, while chicken barely reaches 100 mg/kg, and internal organs, such as liver and kidney, do not exceed 20 mg/kg. And dairy products such as milk, as well as some vegetables, nuts, and yeast barely reach 5 mg/kg.

What is carnitine used for?

Mitochondria need fat to generate energy. However, as this cannot enter in the form of long-chain fatty acids, something is needed to transport these fatty acids, and this is carnitine.

Incorporating fatty acids (fat) into the mitochondria and generating energy can have many beneficial effects, as I mentioned above. An athlete improves their performance if it is supplemented with carnitine because it uses body fat more efficiently as fuel. Overweight people who follow proper diets plus exercise lose weight more rapidly when they are supplemented with carnitine.

In dogs, encouraging results have been seen when used under the following conditions:

  • Kidney failure (Nutritional considerations for the dialysis patient: Royal Canin)
  • Improved male fertility (Common Causes of male canine Infertility)
  • Improvement in insulin levels in dogs with obesity problems
  • Taurine and carnitine in canine cardiomyopathy
  • Better performance of athletic dogs

In my personal experience, I have seen a huge difference when trying to reduce a dog’s weight using homemade diets compared to conventional commercial diets. Why is this? Perhaps much of the answer lies in enzymes and carnitine.

In the veterinary clinic, when a patient is brought to me who has “tried everything” to lose weight and does not have any hormonal problems, by giving them homemade diets based on protein, medium to low levels of fat, and with a total absence of cereals, and the results are successful in the vast majority of cases.

When we use meat as a source of protein in obese dogs, especially red meat which is rich in carnitine, it helps to metabolize the fat introduced into the mitochondria more efficiently. In addition, the enzymes present in the food are of great help in many biochemical processes in the body, among them the correct metabolization of nutrients, as well as the utilization of fats.

Up to 700 ppm (parts per million) is acceptable for use in dog foods, but due to its price it is mainly used in weight-reducing foods at a rate of 100 to 300 ppm.

I can assure you that a well-balanced diet rich in red meat far exceeds carnitine levels found in even the best of the commercial dog weight-loss diets.

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