Arginine is an essential amino acid for cats and dogs. Newborn puppies fed with its mothers’ milk with an arginine deficiency can soon develop cataracts that lead to blindness. Arginine is also a nitric oxide (NO) precursor, which relaxes the smooth muscle fibers of the blood vessels. Arginine supplementation may accordingly have beneficial effects in heart or kidney disease.
Arginine plays a part in the synthesis of urea from ammonia. In the absence of arginine in the diet, in a few hours cats develop clinical signs of ammonia intoxication (hyperammoniemia), with vomiting, hyper-salivation and nerve problems. This deficiency may lead to death if it is not corrected rapidly.
It has been shown that arginine reduces the respiratory problems caused by the increased production of CO² during effort in humans suffering from severe chronic heart failure. Arginine also plays a role in the immune mechanisms.
Arginine is abundant in animal tissue, such as muscle,skin and hair. Gelatine is also rich in arginine.