Influence of different feeds on metabolism and gut health in dogs

Last changed: 05 October 2023
Close up of a jack russel dog with yellow necklace. Photo.

The aim of the project is to build up knowledge about how feed with different compositions, regarding carbohydrates and fibres, affect metabolism and satiety regulation in dogs. In addition, the dogs' ability to assimilate the feed and its impact on intestinal function are examined.

Obesity and its sequelae are a globally growing problem in humans as well as in our companion animals and can partly be linked to our shared lifestyle. It is estimated that 30-50% of Swedish dogs are overweight and thus at risk of deteriorating health. Obesity in dogs is strongly linked to a shortened life span, development of chronic diseases and reduced well-being. The etiology of the development of obesity and other metabolic diseases is multifactorial, but diet is an important factor in preventing obesity and its sequelae.

Epidemiological studies on humans have repeatedly shown that consumption of whole grain products, especially from rye, can have positive health effects, including increased protection against the development of metabolic diseases. Concerning dogs, there are divided opinions on whether it is good or not to use grain-based products in food for dogs at all. However, several research studies have shown that the dog tolerates high amounts of grain in the diet very well. Given the interesting effects the intake of whole grain products has on humans, there is continued interest in dietary fiber to pets.

Carbohydrates are a large group of molecules with a very variable structure. Therefore, the breakdown in the intestine also differs between different types of carbohydrates and thus their impact on the intestinal environment and the body's metabolism. During the microbial breakdown of fibers in the intestine, short-chain fatty acids are formed that affect the intestinal environment by lowering the pH, but the fatty acids are also absorbed by the intestinal cells and function as nutrient substrates but also as signal molecules that influence hormonal signaling.

In the project, we investigate how, among other things, rye and wheat in dog food affect the composition of the intestinal microbiota and the production of short-chain fatty acids. Via blood samples, we will also measure how, after feeding, they affect blood sugar as well as insulin and other hormones that regulate metabolism and satiety.