Pet Food Research Roundup: Addressing DCM, Non-Conventional Diets, and Common Health Concerns

Updated March 8, 2021 to include limitations of studies of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Many Americans Bringing new cats and dogs home in 2020One of their most important interests was figuring out what and how to feed these new pets. Pet owners, especially new ones, are overwhelmed with information about it, making it difficult for them to decide which diet is best for their animal.

One way pet food manufacturers can set them up for success is to invest in and share emerging pet nutrition research. As pet food trends come and go, researchers are discovering more about how different diets and ingredients affect pet health. Here are some of the latest developments.

Understanding canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Sales of grain-free diets are down When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began investigating why the number of cases of DCM in dogs is so high. However, no research to date has revealed evidence of a direct relationship between grain-free diets and DCM.

One recent study, which is currently in pre-print and has not yet been peer-reviewed, It looked at data from more than 67,000 heart disease cases from 14 hospitals and found that the average incidence of DCM was 3.83% from 2000 to 2019. From 2011 to 2019, sales of grain-free pet food increased 500% . They discovered no relationship between DCM and grain-free diets nor any significant increase in cases of DCM over time. However, this conclusion is based on limited data – only one hospital provided data for a full 19 years, while half of the participating hospitals provided less than five years of data.

research Posted in Journal of veterinary internal medicine He found that dogs diagnosed with DCM showed an increased survival time after switching from non-conventional (grain-free) to conventional (grain-inclusive) diets. However, the study sample size was small, and other factors such as reproduction, genetics, medications, and taurine supplementation could play a role in improving health.

Finally, a partnership between Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Embark Canine Genomics It performs genetic testing on more than 1,000 dogs with DCM, including pure and mixed breeds. The findings can aid in early detection and recovery, as well as identify nutritional and non-nutritive genetic risk factors for disease.

Comparing traditional and non-traditional diets

according to International StudyMost pet owners feed their pets a diet that includes some traditional foods, but only 13% of dogs and 32% of cats eat exclusively traditional meals. About half of dog and cat owners include homemade or raw food in their pets’ diets, and a smaller percentage of owners include vegetarian and vegan food.

But are unconventional diets safe for pets? And do they offer any health benefits compared to traditional foods? Research began to answer these questions.

  • Plant-based diets: There has been some debate about whether pets require animal-derived protein, especially when it comes to cats. but New research from the College of Veterinary Medicine of Ontario It indicates that cat companions maintain good health while eating plant foods and may also be less likely to develop obesity, digestive disorders, and liver disease. Although the researchers based this study on the opinions of the owners, it is a starting point for assessing the health of plant-based diets. (Foods based on animal protein have their own benefits – Another recent study She found that more meaty diets reduced the number of times outdoor cats hunted wildlife.)
  • human grade: When comparing fresh, fresh and extruded dog food meals, The researchers found That fresh human-grade cucumber resulted in better digestion, a healthier microbiome, and less stool.

Despite promising studies, Experts are concerned Some unconventional diets may cause imbalances and nutritional deficiencies among pets. They call for more research on the long-term effects of these diets.

Addressing common health concerns

For pets with certain health challenges, proper nutrition is the medicine.

Study on Staffordshire Bull Terriers, a breed known to be susceptible to atopic dermatitis in dogs, compared the RNA skin samples of dogs that ate a commercial diet (sensitive skin formula) to those that ate a commercial raw diet. Dogs fed raw showed up-regulation of immune-related genes, production of antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory responses, suggesting that raw diets may help dogs with skin allergies.

Changes in diet have also been shown to benefit pets with chronic gastrointestinal problems. as part of Study in progress, Cornell University, provided GI canine patients with either a hydrolyzed protein diet or a high-quality mixed-protein diet. No matter what formula they ate, switching the diet had a surprisingly positive effect on dogs’ digestive health. The researchers hope to dive deeper and see if certain ingredients or additives contribute to these findings.

Pet obesity is another common health condition, and one that is now becoming More prevalent during a pandemic. A third of pet owners think their pets have become overweight during the pandemic, and some overweight pet owners feel the pandemic has made it more difficult to help their pets lose weight. Additional treats appear to be the main culprit, with more than half of pet owners admitting to giving their pet treats “for no reason” in the past year. These findings point to the need to educate owners about pet obesity, as well as an opportunity for pet food companies to promote formulas that aid weight loss.

Although many of the studies listed above are still ongoing, pet food and therapy brands can use these research insights to educate customers, market existing products, and inform new formulas.

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