April 29, 2021

Interpretive Summary: Nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites in dogs fed human-grade foods

Interpretive Summary: Nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites in dogs fed human-grade foods

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Choice foods for pets by pet owners, particularly dogs, often include diet and nutrition trends popular in humans.  Whatever organic or health foods ingredients are in high demand for human food may also be sought after in dog food. Such foods can include organic ingredients and the category known as human-grade (HG) ingredients. The difference between HG and other ingredients is that HG ingredients must meet the current federal standards of production, safety and quality for human foods.

The authors of this recent Journal of Animal Science study evaluated the digestibility of HG food in dogs. They also looked at how HG foods impacted fecal microbiota, fecal characteristics, fecal metabolites and blood markers. They hypothesized that HG food would alter fecal microbiota because it is more digestible and have no negative impact on the health of dogs.

Dogs were fed one of four diets for 28 days. Two diets contained HG ingredients, one contained extruded ingredients and one contained fresh non-HG ingredients. Apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) was used to determine digestibility. Dogs fed HG ingredients had improved ATTD over dogs fed extruded or fresh ingredients. Dogs fed the extruded diet had the poorest ATTD. Dogs fed HG foods had a different gut microbiota composition than dogs fed the other two diets. Blood markers and fecal characteristics were unchanged based on diet.

The results of this study overall supported the authors’ hypothesis that dog foods with HG ingredients are highly digestible. How HG ingredients might impact the health of dogs via alteration of fecal microbiota and whether HG ingredients have functional or prebiotic properties is a potential area of future study.

The original article, Nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites in dogs fed human-grade foods, is available on the Journal of Animal Science website.