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Interpretive Summary: Ancient grains as novel dietary carbohydrate sources in canine diets

By Anne Zinn

Pets have become increasingly integrated into family life, which has led to the projection of human perceptions onto the pet food market. As a result of the popularity and novelty of ancient grains in the human market, they have become an increasingly abundant carbohydrate choice in pet food, but the research on the potential health effects of a high inclusion of the present ancient grains in pet food is limited.

A paper recently published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to evaluate the effects of the novel carbohydrate sources on total apparent total tract digestibility, fecal microbiota, and fermentative end-product concentrations and to evaluate the effects of novel carbohydrate sources on the postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses in healthy adult dogs. The research team hypothesized that the consumption of ancient grain-based diets would beneficially shift fermentative end products and fecal microbial populations and lower glycemic response with no detrimental effect on nutrient digestibility or the overall animal health.

Overall, results of the present study demonstrated that ancient grains, when utilized as the main carbohydrate source at relatively high inclusion levels, were well accepted and appropriate for adult dogs and did not indicate any detrimental effects on stool quality or macronutrient digestibility. Specifically, the dietary inclusion of amaranth and oat groats were beneficial in shifting fermentative end products indicative of a butyrogenic effect. Although oat groats did not significantly impact the postprandial glycemic or insulinemic responses in healthy dogs in this study, it can be implied from the present results that this ancient grain may benefit obese, insulin resistant, and/or diabetic dogs; this implication should be evaluated further.

The full study can be found on the Journal of Animal Science webpage.