- Most dogs feed primarily on nibbles.
- However, when fed fresh food, they don’t need to consume as much.
- Dogs that eat freshly fed have healthier gut biomes.
You know the exercise. You are having dinner when suddenly a black nose appears under the table between your legs. You fall back and there are those eyes. Those eyes. If you’re a accomplished dog owner, you can’t slide down – eating off the table is a bad habit that you don’t want to encourage. Plus this is your food. It’s people food. We don’t eat animal feed. Dogs have their own food that is specially formulated for their nutritional needs. Law?
Well, maybe not. A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois (U of I) found that not only is human food digestible for dogs, but it is also more digestible than a lot of dog food. The proof is in the puke.
The study is an approved manuscript for the peer-reviewed Oxford Academic Journal of Animal Science.
Four diets were tested
Photo credit: AntonioDiaz / Adobe Stock
The researchers tested chilled and fresh human-quality food against nibbles, the food most dogs live on. The ingredients of nibbles are mashed into a dough and then extruded, pressed through a kind of nozzle into the desired shape – think of a noodle maker. The resulting pellets are sprayed with additional flavor and color.
For four weeks, the researchers fed 12 beagles on one of four diets:
- an extruded diet – Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
- a fresh chilled diet – Freshpet Roasted Meals Tender Chicken Recipe
- a fresh diet – JustFoodforDogs Beef & Russet Potato Recipe
- Another Fresh Diet – JustFoodforDogs Chicken & White Rice Recipe.
The two fresh diets included minimally processed beef, chicken, broccoli, rice, carrots, and various pieces of food in a kind of dog casserole.
(You can’t help but think about how hard it would be to get fussy cats to try new diets. As if.)
Senior writer Kelly S. Swanson, of the U of I Department of Animal Sciences and the Department of Nutritional Sciences, was a little surprised at how much better dogs handled human food than self-chilled dog food. “Based on previous research we’ve done, I’m not surprised at the results in human quality feeding compared to an extruded dry food,” he says, adding, “However, I wasn’t expecting how good the human quality would be in fresh food , also compared to a brand that has just been commercially processed. “
Tracking the effects of each diet
Photo credit: Patryk Kosmider / Adobe Stock
The researchers tracked the dogs’ weights and analyzed the microbiota in their fecal mass.
It found that the dogs had to eat more on munchies to maintain their body weight. This resulted in them producing 1.5 to 2.9 times the amount of feces produced by dogs on fresh food.
Says Swanson, “This is in line with a 2019 study of People by the National Institute of Health that found that people who eat a fresh whole-food diet averaged 500 fewer calories a day and were happier than that People who eat a processed diet. “
Perhaps even more interesting was the effect of fresh foods on the intestinal biome. While there is still much we do not yet know about microbiota, it was still the case that the microbial communities found in fresh foods were different.
“Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt,” says Swanson kibble. These unique microbial profiles were likely due to differences in diet processing, the source of the ingredients, and the concentration and type of fiber, proteins and fats that are known to affect what the dog digests and what the colon does reached for fermentation. “”
How did Kibble adopt dog nutrition?
Historically, dogs ate leftovers that were left over from humans. It wasn’t until 1870, with the arrival of the luxurious Spratt’s Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes – made from “the dried unsalted gelatinous parts of Prairie Beef,” mmm – that commercial dog food began to take hold. Dog-bone shaped biscuits first appeared in 1907. The Ken-L ration dates back to 1922. Kibble was first extruded in 1956. Pet food had become a great way to turn human food waste into profit.
Commercial dog food only became the norm for most dogs in the household after a massive marketing campaign led in 1964 by a group of dog food industry lobbyists called the Pet Food Institute. Over time, for most households, dog food was what dogs ate – what else? Human food? Today more than half of US dogs are overweight or obese, and their diet is certainly a factor.
We’re not that special with animals. If something is healthy for us – we’re not looking at you, chocolate – maybe we should remember to share it with our compatriots. Not off the table.
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