WASHINGTON: Dog owners, a fresh and raw diet for your furry playmate may have many health benefits, according to a new study.
Many dog owners think of their furry companions as part of the family, and now products are available to feed them that way, too. Some owners are moving away from traditional extruded kibble products, and instead choosing ultra-premium fresh and raw diets found in the refrigerated aisle.
The foods may look more similar to what we'd feed a member of the family, but many of the newer diets haven't been rigorously tested for performance in dogs.
Corresponding author Kelly Swanson said, "A lot of companies test for complete and balanced nutrition, but don't go beyond that. The company we worked with - Freshpet - wanted to see how some of their unique diets would perform. Would dogs like them? Were they digestible? Would they increase activity?"
The researchers tested the palatability and digestibility of three commercially marketed fresh and raw diets for dogs, as well as a traditional extruded kibble diet. The diets included a lightly cooked roasted-refrigerated diet; a lightly cooked grain-free roasted-refrigerated diet; and a raw diet.
The researchers also found major shifts in the microbiota - the suite of microbes inhabiting the gut - in the roasted and raw diets, compared with kibble.
It is important to point out that all dogs were healthy throughout the study period, and that all diets were palatable, highly digestible, and resulted in good stool quality. Even though some of the diets were statistically more digestible or led to lower triglycerides, those metrics were within the normal range for all dogs on all diets.
Therefore, Swanson emphasises, all the diet formats tested in the study, including kibble, would be healthy choices.
The full findings are present in the Journal of Animal Science.