Canine Cuisine Revolution: 8 Trends in Dog Nutrition

Canine Cuisine Revolution: 8 Trends in Dog Nutrition

Before domestication, dogs primarily fended for themselves and survived on a carnivorous diet. But once people began to utilize dogs for hunting, farming and protection, they began to care more about their nutritional needs.

While trends in pet food can change from one year to the next, most dog parents want high-quality, nutritious foods for their pets.

1. Natural Ingredients

As members of the order Carnivora, dogs are considered obligate carnivores but their food needs don’t stop there. Providing your dog with high-quality natural ingredients can help them maintain healthy weight, boost their immune system, and support a radiant coat and skin.

The term “natural” in pet food may have different meanings to different people, but it is generally agreed that a product can be called natural when all of its ingredients come from plant, animal or mineral sources that have not been chemically altered in any way. This can include foods containing meat as well as other non-meat proteins, such as legumes and starches.

In addition to consuming high-quality protein, dogs need complex carbohydrates and healthy fats for energy. They also need vitamins and minerals to support their overall health and wellbeing.

2. Freeze-Dried Food

As pet parents become more interested in feeding their dogs a raw diet that is closer to their natural canid diet, freeze-dried food has gained popularity. Flash-freezing preserves all the nutrients found in raw meat, and when rehydrated, offers your dog the structure, flavor and nutrient profile that they crave.

The dry surface of freeze-dried foods also eliminates the environment for pathogens to grow, and many brands take the added step of high pressure pasteurization, which is an important consideration if someone in your household has a compromised immune system. Many freeze-dried foods are offered as full meals, and others can be used to supplement your dog’s existing kibble or serve as a high-value treat.

If you are considering freeze-dried food for your dog, look for a product that is described as a “complete” diet for their specific weight. Follow the recommended feeding guidelines to avoid overfeeding, and be sure that your dog has access to clean water. A high-quality freeze-dried food can help you create a truly balanced diet for your pet.

3. Minimally Processed Food

We’re all familiar with the advice to eat minimally processed foods. The rationale behind this recommendation is that a diet of whole foods maximizes cancer-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals and minimizes unhealthy additions like fat, salt and sugar. It’s a trend that has spread to dog food as pet parents seek to feed their animals raw or homemade diets.

Historically, many commercially-produced pet foods have used ingredients that are highly processed. For example, some contain high levels of carbohydrates to help it maintain its shape. Dogs are obligate carnivores, but they can survive on a plant-based diet if necessary.

Newly emerging trends include the availability of raw, air-dried and gently cooked foods that are less processed than kibble. While these alternative diet formats are growing in popularity, more research is needed to assess their performance and healthfulness in the context of a balanced pet food.

4. Functional Foods

Despite how pet parents might change the way they feed their dogs, one thing that remains constant is the desire to give them high-quality, nutritious food. Dogs need to get their proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals through their diets in order to maintain optimum health.

But some dog foods do more than just provide essential nutrients. Functional foods are formulated to address specific pet health issues. They might include ingredients like blueberries, which are rich in antioxidants that may boost cognitive function in older dogs; quinoa, which is full of protein and fiber; or FOS (fructooligosaccharides), which have been shown to reduce Clostridium perfringens concentrations in the gut of dogs with diarrhea.

The philosophy behind functional foods has its roots in Hippocrates’ concept of “food as medicine.” He believed that the things eaten can help prevent diseases by strengthening the body’s natural ability to fight off infections and other conditions. This translates to the current popularity of super foods and functional foods like the authority dog food, which can help improve a dog’s overall health and well-being.

5. Sustainability-Minded Foods

As people prioritize their health and well-being, they want to extend the same principles to their pets. As such, dog parents are turning to sustainability-minded foods that offer the benefits they enjoy from their own healthy diets.

These foods often include natural ingredients that are grown using less water, fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals that contribute to environmental degradation. They also avoid artificial ingredients that are known to trigger allergies and sensitivities in many dogs. In addition, they may be made with meat that is more humanely sourced.

Sustainable foods are not only better for the environment, but they can also help you save money in the long run. For example, you’ll likely spend fewer dollars on vet visits when your pet is eating a nutritious and balanced diet. Moreover, sustainable foods will help to support companies that prioritize ethical farming practices and fair labor conditions. These are just a few ways that sustainable foods can make a difference in your pet’s life and the planet’s. In turn, your dog will thrive on a nutrient-dense and balanced diet.

6. Healthier Preparation

While some pet parents enjoy cooking their dog’s food, they may not realize that many recipes can expose pets to nutritional deficiencies.

Researchers have published several studies evaluating home-prepared diet recipes. Eighty-three recipes for dogs, twenty-four for cats and two intended for both species were evaluated. Generally, these recipes presented diets that were not properly formulated and consequently exposed dogs and cats to potential nutritional deficiencies.

For example, rhubarb contains soluble oxalate crystals, which can be toxic in large amounts. Additionally, xylitol, found in some sugar-free candies and gums, can be lethal to dogs (and cats).

When using recipes, it is critical to make sure that your pet is not receiving any ingredients they are sensitive to. It is also important to have access to fresh, clean water. For these reasons, a healthy, grain-free pre-mix can be the best option. Simply add hot water, add your choice of protein and oils and you have a nutritious meal for your pet in just minutes! The process is not a lot of work, and the food provides a wide variety of low-glycemic vegetables, herbs and nutrients that help prevent serious diseases.

7. Functional Foods for Dogs

Dogs have evolved to be primarily carnivores, but they also need energy from carbohydrates. They are able to digest starches and sugars, but the process is less efficient than with proteins. Because of this, novel foods have been formulated to provide better digestibility.

Adding specialized ingredients such as probiotics and prebiotics to the diet can help improve digestive health. Functional foods can also be formulated to support specific bodily functions. For example, dogs with joint issues can benefit from a diet that contains added glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin to help support healthy joints.

Another emerging trend in pet nutrition is the use of dietary supplements. Supplements such as omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can boost overall immune system function, aid digestion, and promote healthy skin and hair. Many pet owners are turning to chlorella, a type of sea algae that is very rich in nutrients, to help their pets stay healthy and strong.

8. Functional Foods for Cats

The pet industry has embraced functional foods for dogs and cats that include ingredients with health benefits. These foods often include probiotics, glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids with claims to boost immune systems, support digestion and improve skin/coat health. These products have gained popularity because of a growing focus on wellness and a desire for a healthy lifestyle in both pets and their people.

Pet parents are also concerned about the quality of their dog’s food. Many are willing to pay more for foods that have functional benefits. This trend has been fueled by recent research that shows more pet owners are seeking science-backed ingredient claims.

While a vegetarian diet is not ideal for any animal, it may be more nutritious than an animal-based diet. Studies show that some types of vegetables and legumes can provide all the protein a dog needs without increasing blood cholesterol levels or risking obesity. In addition, dietary fibers like oats and barley provide the same nutritional value as meat while also lowering glycemic response.