If you own a pet, you need to feed them a diet with Choline which has been recognized as an essential ingredient in cat and dog diets.
The Discovery of choline dates back to the 1850s and 1860s when Theodore Gobley described a substance he named ‘lecithine’, after the Greek word ‘lekithos’ for egg yolk. It was in 1862 that Adolph Strecker noted that lecithin generated a new nitrogenous chemical when heated and he named ‘choline’. Read the whole history of this nutrient here.
The guys in the image above take the credit for the discovery of Choline.
So, what is Choline?
It is an essential nutrient that is closely related to the B-vitamin family and is also known as Vitamin B4. It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it is not stored in the body and needs to be consumed daily.
Forms of Choline:
Choline is available in various forms, choline chloride, lecithin, and choline bitartrate.
This is the most common form of choline used in pet foods. Choline chloride is produced by combining hydrochloric acid with choline. It’s available in a powder or liquid form and is easily added to pet foods during manufacturing.
Lecithin is a natural source of choline and is derived from soybean or sunflower oils. It’s available in a granular form and is often used as an emulsifier in human foods, such as salad dressings and chocolate.
Choline bitartrate is produced by combining choline with tartaric acid. It’s available in a powder form and is often used as a dietary supplement in humans.
What does choline do for dogs and cats? Choline chloride uses:
Choline assists in nutrition:
Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in muscle contraction, memory, and many other processes. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cell membranes and is involved in fat metabolism.
Choline supports brain health:
Choline is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy brain tissue. It is a major component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and dopamine and plays a role in memory, mental focus, and overall brain health.
Choline protects the liver:
Choline is involved in the metabolism of fats and helps to protect the liver from toxins. It is essential for liver health and function.
Choline is involved in the maintenance of healthy cell membranes and plays a role in DNA methylation. It is essential for cellular health and function.
Choline is involved in the production of lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. It is essential for lipid metabolism and homeostasis.
A high-choline diet is beneficial for your dog throughout his or her life. This will aid in the development of your dog’s brain and ensure excellent liver health by preventing disorders like hepatic lipidosis. Choline also aids in the maintenance of body processes such as hydration by preventing skin water loss. It also maintains healthy cell membranes, which leads to less inflammation and a healthier coat.
How much choline does your dog need?
AAFCO recommends that dogs be fed 1360 mg per kg of dog weight.
How much choline does your cat need?
Cats need a bit more Choline in their diet compared to dogs. AAFCO recommends feeding cats a minimum of 2400 mg per kg of cat on dry matter basis.
As shown in the tables above, cats need 43% more Choline in their diet than dogs.
What are the symptoms of choline deficiency?
The symptoms of choline deficiency vary depending on the stage of life. In puppies, choline deficiency can cause developmental problems, such as delays in motor skills and learning ability.
In adult dogs, choline deficiency can cause muscle weakness, liver disease, and reproductive problems. In cats, choline deficiency can cause liver disease, cognitive decline, and reproductive problems.
The symptoms of choline deficiency are:
- memory problems
- muscle weakness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
If you think your pet may be deficient in choline, please consult your veterinarian.
While Choline deficiency can only get diagnosed by a doctor, you may see some physical signs such as;
- Sudden weight-loss
- Hemorrhagic (bleeding) tissue
Liver dysfunction is an advanced symptom of an underlying deficiency of choline. You may, however, get to know about this after a visit to the vet.
What are the best sources of choline for dogs and cats?
Eggs are an excellent source of choline for both dogs and cats. Other good sources include beef, chicken, fish, and soybeans. You can also find choline in supplements form. When choosing a supplement, make sure it is made specifically for dogs or cats.
Here are some foods that are high in choline:
- Eggs – One large egg contains 147 mg of choline.
- Beef liver – 3 oz serving contains homogenized beef liver 336 mg of choline.
- Chicken liver – 3 oz serving contains roasted chicken liver with skin 212 mg of choline.
- Salmon – 3 oz serving contains cooked pink salmon with skin and bones 176 mg of choline.
- Soybeans – 1 cup of boiled soybeans contain 109 mg of choline.
- Broccoli – 1 cup of cooked broccoli contains 84 mg of choline.
What is choline chloride in dog food?
If you see “choline chloride” on a pet food label, it is simply another form of choline. Choline chloride is often used as a supplement to increase the levels of choline in the diet. It is safe for both dogs and cats.
Is Choline safe for dogs?
If Choline is one of the ingredients in any dog food being sold here in the US, you’ll see it listed on the packaging. If you are wondering if it is safe, you shouldn’t worry as it is a wholesome ingredient that is not only safe but also necessary for your dog’s health.
Is Choline safe for cats?
Yes, choline is safe for cats and is even an essential nutrient for their overall health. Cats need choline to maintain healthy liver function and prevent cognitive decline. Cats need more choline in their diet than dogs, so if you are feeding your cat a diet that is low in choline, they may develop deficiency symptoms. If you think your cat may be deficient in choline, please consult your veterinarian.
Choline chloride supplement for dogs and cats
Choline supplements on the market such as Cholodin are vitamins used to detoxify pathways in the liver as a precursor to nervous system chemicals such as acetylcholine and dopamine. According to VCA Hospital blog, these effects are the reason supplemental choline is used in dogs and cats with seizures and/or cognitive dysfunction.
As mentioned before, choline chloride is a supplement that can be added to your pet’s diet to increase their intake of choline. Choline chloride is safe for both dogs and cats. If you are interested in giving your pet a choline chloride supplement, please consult your veterinarian.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org