Improving Pet Nutrition
Dr. Dana Tomlinson, research nutritionist for Zinpro Corporation, discusses how the company is using key minerals to improve the health and performance of pets.
Pet Business: Tell us about Zinpro. When and how was the company started? What is the company’s role in pet care?
Dr. Dana Tomlinson: Zinpro Corporation began more than 45 years ago with an idea that if we can improve the ability of the animal to utilize minerals, we can improve its health and performance. That is really the foundation for everything we do. It was an idea that propelled our company to discover its unique amino acid complexes. These specific amino acid complexes are the most efficient form that is best utilized by the animal to ensure optimal health and performance. Our mission is to improve the wellness and performance of animals and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world.
Trace minerals, including zinc, manganese and iron, are often referred to as micronutrients, and although they’re required only in small amounts daily, these nutrients play an essential role in numerous metabolic functions. When fed as part of a well-balanced diet, trace minerals provide dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs with multiple benefits, including skin and coat quality, growth and development, reproductive performance, paw pad integrity and energy metabolism.
With Zinpro Performance Minerals in your companion animal’s diet, you’ll see a visible difference in the health and appearance of your walking partner, your service pet, your child’s best friend—companions that are essential to our own wellbeing and happiness.
PB: What role does zinc play in pet nutrition? What benefits does it provide?
Tomlinson: Zinc plays a critical role in more than 300 enzyme systems and more than 3,000 proteins in our pets’ bodies, more than any other trace mineral. One of the greatest benefits of zinc is in the maintenance and production of epithelial tissue. Epithelial tissue covers the inside and outside surfaces, as well as the organs of companion animals, production animals and humans. It is essential to maintain and protect this protective barrier from environmental challenges and stressors. Zinc is essential to the cellular apparatus that holds epithelial cells together and thus helps protect our animals against their environment. It is also required for the production and function of immune cells, which are needed for those occasions when the epithelia is broken, in order to protect against bacteria, virus or fungi. Animals receiving insufficient zinc, a diet high in antagonists to zinc absorption or having a genetic predisposition to poor zinc absorption are more likely to suffer from epithelial irregularities and growth of rogue bacterial colonies.
PB: What are some of the other trace minerals that are important in a pet’s diets? What do they contribute to an animal’s wellness?
Tomlinson: Iron, manganese, copper, selenium and iodine are other trace minerals that are important to maintaining normal body function in our companions. While these nutrients play key roles in maintaining cellular and metabolic function, none of these are required at as high of a level as zinc. Iron is needed for red blood cell production and function, key to oxygen carrying capacity and athletic endurance of our companions. Manganese is needed for reproduction (ovarian function and steroidogenesis) and works with zinc, copper and selenium in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation caused by physical exertion, infection and over-conditioning or obesity. Iodine is needed for maintaining thyroid function and thus metabolic rate, which helps control body temperature and cellular metabolism. Combined, trace minerals are the keys that bring the metabolic and immune system engines to life and keep them running smoothly, all important components in keeping our family companions healthy and happy.
PB: What makes Zinpro stand out as a supplier of trace minerals for pet nutrition products?
Tomlinson: Zinpro Performance Minerals are unique, patented molecules, featuring just the right bonding strength to deliver essential trace minerals for efficient animal absorption and metabolism, resulting in improved animal performance. Our Performance Minerals (metal amino acid complexes) are the most research-proven trace minerals on the market—backed by more than 200 peer-reviewed research publications. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that feeding the essential nutrients contained in Zinpro Performance Minerals helps improve intestinal health (key to digestive upset), skin integrity, foot pad health and coat quality, while also helping to reduce inflammation and atopic dermatitis (a very common skin allergy problem in companion animals). Zinpro Performance Minerals also benefit our companion animals by not reacting with other components within the diet, such as vitamins, due to the unique chemical structure of Zinpro amino acid complexes. They are also stable through extrusion, one of the harshest manufacturing processes, which is critical for cooking and production of many companion animal diets. Therefore, Zinpro Performance Minerals are a well-designed source of trace minerals for inclusion in our companion’s diets.
In 2016, ZINPRO zinc methionine was selected as a preferred supplier product for equine and companion animal markets. This adds to Zinpro’s long line of quality certifications, including FAMI-QS, HACCP, ISO 9001, RUPP and Safe Feed/Safe Food.
PB: What does the future hold for Zinpro and the science behind pet nutrition?
Tomlinson: Our company is highly focused on growth, but that means we want to be the best, not necessarily the biggest. Zinpro has grown consistently for almost 50 years and we are currently present in more than 70 countries. We are committed to only putting products into the market that truly work and provide performance and cost benefit to our customers. Our research and product development teams continue to conduct studies investigating new compounds, as well as determining how our current products affect our companions at the most basic cellular level, including gene expression. We are also conducting studies to determine the optimal amounts and sources of minerals needed by our family companions. PB