Obesity is as much of a problem for pets in the United States as it is for their owners. The number of overweight pets steadily increases each year, and the health issues associated with obesity are quickly climbing as well. Researchers in Brazil are trying to find a way to deal with this growing problem by studying pet food processing and getting back to basics.
Dr. Aulus Carciofi is a Professor at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil. He and his colleagues have read previous literature that states that particle size influences nutrient digestibility in human and livestock diets. There is not enough research to say the claim is also true for canines, but the research team believes that it is, and they are hoping to prove their hypothesis to be true.
Carciofi‘s study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The team fed 54 beagles corn, rice, or sorghum (a type of silage comparable to corn silage) in either coarsely ground, fine ground, or medium ground sizes. Corn and rice are two of the most commonly used cereals in dog food and sorghum in considered to be less digestible for canines.
Based on the study’s results, rice was found to be the easiest for dogs to digest and it didn’t depend on the way it was processed. According to Carciofi, corn and sorghum were dependent on the particle size and needed to be appropriately processed to produce highly digestible dog foods. Although sorghum was thought to be less digestible, it can actually be similar to rice if it is ground and cooked properly.
This research shows that all three ingredients need to be processed differently to be highly digestible, but Carciofi says that most pet food manufacturers have only one grinding condition for all their recipes and ingredients. They typically do not change the grinding condition based on the type of cereal that they are using. He says that the extrusion process is only configured for the protein, meat, and fat ingredients in the recipe.
Changing these dog food processing techniques may be an effective and low cost way of producing a more beneficial diet for our canine companions. It would allow pet owners to have more control over their dog’s food digestibility. In turn, it could reduce the number of overweight and obese household pets.