Food Wonks, Gather ‘Round

Reducing fat and calories can lower cancer risks for dogs (and people!) according to newly presented research.  Specific recommendations including lowering dietary intake of sugar and Omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. nuts, seeds, corn oil, soybean oil and grain-fed red meat).  It’s important to note that Omega-6 fatty acids are not “bad”, it’s just that they are commonly out of balance with Omega-3 fatty acids in the American diet.

There’s another interesting tidbit in the article on fiber:

[T]he ideal blend of fiber for dog food is about 75 to 80 percent insoluble and 20 to 25 percent soluble.

Examples of insoluble fiber (the 75% recommendation) are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, whole-grain breads/cereals, nuts, seeds, brown rice and many vegetables.  Food sources for soluble fiber (the 25% recommendation) include oats, oat and rice brans, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.

To put this in some perspective with regard to dog diets, that National Research Council’s 2006 pamphlet (pdf) on canine nutrition says:

Q: How much fiber is good for my dog?
A: Fiber in the diet is probably good for overall gastrointestinal health and may help some dogs keep their weight down. The typical diet of normal adult dogs contains between 2.5 and 4.5% fiber.  However, the fiber content of some “diet” dog foods may be higher. This may allow the dog to feel full without consuming too many calories for effective weight control.  Diets high in fiber also may help in the management of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and may improve large intestine function.

On the other hand, too much fiber in the diet can decrease the digestibility of other important nutrients and result in loose stools, frequent defecation, and reduced palatability of the dog food. Wheat bran and barley products are high in fiber.  Conversely, dog food ingredients high in starch, including rice and dried potatoes, have less fiber.

3 thoughts on “Food Wonks, Gather ‘Round

  1. The mention of prebiotics in the article is…superfluous. Prebiotics is a nifty name for sugar that escapes digestion and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Unless you are feeding a meat and bone diet with no veggies or grains, your dog is getting prebiotics.

    1. I am unclear how well any of these additives-du-jour survive the dog food production process. It would seem likely to me that many of these things are either obliterated in the overcooking process or at least reduced to an insignificant level.

      1. Stuff that’s heat sensitive is usually sprayed on after the kibbles are cooked, b vitamin, probiotics, glucosamine and the like. I used to have a link on how many live organisms are actually left in those kibbles that advertise probiotics, but I don’t feed kibbles so I didn’t save it. It wasn’t much.

        If you need additives du jour, it is much much cheaper to add humane grade stuff to whatever diet you’re feeding. Already added to the kibbles is just marketing.

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