Many dog owners are forgoing traditional kibble, opting instead for ultra-premium fresh and raw diets found in the refrigerated aisle. The food may be more like what we would feed a member of the family, but many of the newer diets have not been rigorously tested for performance in dogs. A new study wanted to see how some of the unique diets would perform. Do dogs like it? Would they be digestible? Would they increase activity?”
The researchers tested the palatability and digestibility of three commercially marketed fresh and raw diets for dogs, as well as a traditional kibble diet. Diets include a lightly cooked grilled-chilled diet; a lightly cooked grain-free roast-refrigerated diet; and a raw diet. The lightly cooked roasted diets were pasteurized and the raw diet treated with an acidifying bacteria that makes the food inhospitable to harmful microbes. All diets were based on chicken, but some had added beef, salmon, or chicken liver. Each diet also included a vitamin and mineral mix and a dry mix of plant-based products such as sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, cranberries and carrots.
Eight beagles were given each feeding consecutively for one month. After a 14-day transition period to each new diet, they were monitored for voluntary physical activity and then urine, stool and blood samples were collected and analyzed. The roasted diets were found to be more digestible than the kibble, and both the grain-free roasted diet and the raw diet resulted in lower blood triglyceride levels than the kibble diet, although they had a higher fat content. The researchers also found major shifts in the microbiota — the array of microbes that inhabited the gut — in the roasted and raw diet, compared to kibble.
It is important to point out that all dogs were healthy throughout the study period and that all diets were palatable, highly digestible and resulted in good quality stool. While some of the diets were statistically more digestible or resulted in lower triglycerides, these values were within the normal range for all dogs in all diets. Therefore, all diet formulas tested in the study, including kibble, are healthy choices.