We are all aware that our dogs need to receive a variety of nutrients in order to lead happy, healthy and active lives but very few owners know just what it is the that various components of our pets' diets do.

However, with the increase in popularity of protein heavy diets such as the raw dog food diet, many owners are becoming more interested in exactly what this source of energy does for their pet.

Protein is one of the three main components of most dog food, alongside carbohydrates and fats. Although dogs are omnivores, the protein found in meat is particularly important to help them grow, develop muscle and have a healthy coat and eyes.

Writing for the Dog Daily, Dr Jessica Vogelsang, a small animal veterinarian from the United States, explains how protein works to power your dog's body.

"Protein is the basic building block of the body," she says. "When a dog ingests a piece of meat, the body breaks the protein down into its component, amino acids, which can then be reassembled into a huge assortment of vital molecules and tissues."

The vet points out that protein plays a particularly important role in powering your pooch's muscles, helping to both build and maintain them.

"The amino acid components of muscle tissue are constantly being broken down, so adequate protein intake is vital to not only build muscle, but also maintain it," she adds.

"Without adequate protein intake, dogs may develop a dry coat, become anaemic and eventually lose muscle mass as the body fights its deficiency."

Most good quality brands such as Burns and Arden Grange dog food contain a good balance of protein with other sources of energy, but for some pups a protein food such as the raw dog food diet can be a good option.

However, before changing your dog's diet in any way, it's always a good idea to consult with your vet first and then take steps to switch foods very gradually.

Written by: Hannah