Pet Food

What is Carniking® L-Carnitine?

Our Carniking® products are Lonza’s high quality source of L-Carnitine for use in animal nutrition formulations. Carniking® L-Carnitine can be used in pet foods, snacks and treats and in dietary supplements. Carniking® L-Carnitine can be added to complete feeds, base mixes or premixes because of its good flowability. It is also pellet and extruder stable. Carniking® L-Carnitine supports energy metabolism, and healthy, active lifestyle, has an antioxidant effect1, and helps contribute to the overall well-being and quality of life for companion animals.

L-Carnitine was first discovered in 1905 in red meat and has since been extensively studied. Its main role is to help energy production from fat in mammals. Without sufficient L-Carnitine in the body, mammals and therefore pets cannot utilize fat effectively to produce energy2. L-Carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids across the inner-mitochondrial membrane into the matrix where they are degraded through the beta oxidation to produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) as a source of energy.

Carniking® Supplementation Can Be Vital

There are two ways animals can obtain their L-Carnitine needs: endogenous biosynthesis (made within the body) or from feed and supplements containing L-Carnitine.

Most mammals and humans in particular can produce only 25 percent of their L-Carnitine needs and therefore, 75 percent has to come from the diet3. Dietary supplementation with L-Carnitine is recommended under certain conditions:

The amount of L-Carnitine obtained from pet food intake varies based on ingredients consumed:

2016_08_Carnitine_PetfoodChart_d2With pet formulations, the types and amounts of meats, grains and vegetables used will vary by stage and brand, therefore the final dietary levels of natural L-Carnitine will vary significantly. Of course, pet food recipes formulated with little or no red meat products will contain low levels of L-Carnitine.

Pet food or treats with the Carniking® ingredient can help supplement inadequate L-Carnitine intake. As an example, we know that meats, grains and vegetable feed products contain various amounts of vitamins and minerals5. However, with the trend of lower red meat consumption, additional supplementation with L-Carnitine will help to achieve optimal levels and associated health benefits during all stages of dogs and cats lives.

General Functions of L-Carnitine

Fat Metabolism

The body derives its energy from the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In order for the body to utilize these nutrients for energy, they must first be broken down into smaller building blocks to generate energy under the form of ATP.  In the case of fats, long-chain fatty acids are transported to the mitochondrion the site where they are converted into energy.

Other Functions

In addition to its role in energy production from fat, L-Carnitine impacts many other cellular biochemical processes in the body, both directly and indirectly. For example, through its antioxidant properties, L-Carnitine can help during exercise and muscle recovery, can help support cardiovascular and brain functions and help with weight management6-12.

Carniking® L-Carnitine Supplementation Can Support

Weight Management

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), a study from 2013 concluded that 52percent of dogs and 57percent of cats are either overweight or obese13. This corresponds to over 98 million dogs or cats that are overweight or obese in the United States alone. Pets are becoming overweight not only because of overfeeding, but also because most are living longer and have limited daily exercise14. This is a serious concern because an overweight condition can be associated with many health problems.

The value of Carniking® L-Carnitine and its role in supporting weight management for humans and pets has been well researched and numerous studies are available9,15,16. Research in pets has shown that when diets containing L-Carnitine supplementation are fed to both dogs and cats, the level of body fat is reduced while the percentage of lean muscle mass increases. As lean mass (muscle tissue) uses more calories than fat tissue, an increase in lean mass may help mitigate the recurrence of being overweight and obese9.

L-Carnitine in the Heart

The heart is a working muscle continuously requiring energy and nutrients. The average heartbeat of a dog ranges from 100 to 160 beats per minute (bpm) while for cats it’s 120 to 220 bpm. This is in contrast to the human heart which averages approximately 72 bpm. In order to maintain its constant workload, the heart requires a steady supply of energy and L-Carnitine. The heart obtains most of its energy from the oxidation of fatty acids. Because of L-Carnitine’s role in transporting fatty acids, the heart has a high demand for it. It’s not surprising then that a greater concentration of L-Carnitine is found within the heart muscle when compared to other organs2.

Senior Pets

Advances in health and nutrition have led to increasing life expectancies – not only for people, but pets also. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2012 US Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook stated that 48 percent of dogs and 50 percent of cats were age 6 or older. In 1987, the same percentage was 42 and 29 for dogs and cats respectively17. With this growing trend there is an important need to invest in maintaining and improving the quality of life of our senior pets.

It has been shown in humans that available L-Carnitine in the body decreases with age which can be due to three main reasons:

  1. The availability of the free L-Carnitine (the active form) pool decreases because feed intake normally decreases with age
  2. Red meat intake may also decrease with age
  3. The body’s ability to produce L-Carnitine begins to drop

Carniking® supplementation can positively influence the aging process for a number of different reasons including its ability to support the body’s antioxidant defense system also support mitochondrial efficiency. In addition, Carniking® supplementation may help support energy metabolism in the heart and skeletal muscles of older pets.

Carniking® L-Carnitine for Exercise and Exercise Recovery

Fat, proteins and carbohydrates are the primary fuel sources used to meet energy demands for physical activity. In addition to supporting heart health and a healthy weight, Carniking® supplementation also has multiple advantages for physical activity and recovery after exercise, as stated above. These advantages can include, improving sport performance, delaying the onset of fatigue and attenuating oxidative stress after exercise. In dogs L-Carnitine has been shown increase blood flow, during exercise of the muscle.  reducing muscle damage and improving recovery after exercise1,6,18.

Our Pledge to Pet Food Customers


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  3. Rebouche CJ. (1999) Modern nutrition in health and disease. Chapter 31:Carnitine (L2):505-512
  4. Evans AM & Fornasini G (2003) Clin Pharmacokinet 42(11):941-967
  5. Knüttel-Gustavsen S & Harmeyer J (2007) Food Chemistry 105:793-804
  6. Ho JY et al. (2010) Metabolism 59:1190-1199
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  12. Campoy C et al. (1998) Early Human Dev 53:S149-S164
  13. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
  14. Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2013 Report.
  15. Gross KL et al. (1998) J Anim Sci 76(S1):175
  16. Odo S et al. (2013) Food Nutr Sci 4:222-231
  17. Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
  18. Dubelaar ML et al. (1991) J Card Surg Mar:6(1 Suppl):270-5