Based on an article by Robby Berman, February 2021
Most dogs eat a diet that is primarily pellets. However a new study has found that dogs that are fed a fresh-food diet instead don’t need to consume as much and have a healthier gut biome. This means that they do less ‘business’.
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois finds that not only is human-grade food digestible for dogs, but it’s actually more digestible than most dog foods. The study is an accepted manuscript for the peer-reviewed Oxford Academic Journal of Animal Science.
Four diets were tested, and the proof is in the pooing!
The researchers tested refrigerated and fresh human-grade foods against dog pellets, the food that most dogs live on. The pellets are called an extruded diet because of the way in which they are prepared (pellet ingredients are mashed into a dough and then extruded or forced into the desired shape). This is then sprayed with additional flavour and colour.
For four weeks, researchers fed 12 beagles one of four diets:
- An extruded diet — Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
- A fresh refrigerated diet — Freshpet Roasted Meals Tender Chicken Recipe
- A fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Beef & Russet Potato Recipe
- A second fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Chicken & White Rice Recipe.
The two fresh diets contained minimally processed beef, chicken, broccoli, rice, carrots, and various food chunks in a canine casserole of sorts.
Senior author Kelly S. Swanson of U of I’s Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences said: “Based on past research we’ve conducted I’m not surprised with the results when feeding human-grade compared to an extruded dry diet, however, I did not expect to see how well the human-grade fresh food performed, even compared to a fresh commercial processed brand.” He basically concurred that dogs performed much better on people food than on refrigerated dog food.
Tracking the effect of each diet
The researchers tracked the dogs’ weights and analysed the microbiota in their faecal matter.
It turned out that the dogs eating pellets had to eat more to maintain their body weight. This resulted in their producing 1.5 to 2.9 times the amount of poop produced by the dogs on the fresh diets.
Says Swanson, “This is consistent with a 2019 National Institute of Health study in humans that found people eating a fresh whole food diet consumed on average 500 less calories per day, and reported being more satisfied, than people eating a more processed diet.”
Maybe even more interesting was the effect of fresh food on the gut biome. Though there remains much we don’t yet know about microbiota, it was nonetheless the case that the microbial communities found in fresh-food poo was different, and obviously better, because Swanson went on to say: “Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt”.
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