Natalie Asaro, nutrition manager at Petcurean

Natalie Asaro, nutrition manager at Petcurean.

| Source: Petcurean 

CHILLIWACK, BRITISH COLUMBIA — According to a recent whitepaper published by Kerry, digestive health was listed as the second-biggest concern for dog and cat owners. As science solidifies the link between the microbiome and overall health and wellness — not just for pets, but for people, too — supporting gut health through nutrition has emerged as an obvious approach to achieve this.

“Given the control pet parents have over their pets’ diets, it’s really no surprise to me that there’s such an increased focus on leveraging nutrition to support gut health,” said Natalie Asaro, nutrition manager at Petcurean. “Pet parents are really trying to take a more proactive approach in looking at their pets’ health. Gut health isn’t necessarily a new concept — it’s something that’s always been relevant to the pet food industry, but it’s certainly gaining more momentum as pet parents are becoming more aware of the effects of gut health on their pets, and that also stems largely from the human food industry.

“I think people are starting to realize that gut health is not only important for things like digestion and nutrient utilization and stool scores,” she added. “Having good gut health also supports a large number of other bodily systems like the immune system.”

To this end, Petcurean commissioned an in-house study comparing gut health outcomes in dogs who were fed its Go! Solutions Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe with Ancient Grains. The study compared both tangible and more technical outcomes to determine how the recipe could benefit stool quality and bacterial groups within the gut microbiome compared to a control diet.

The study examined 24 client-owned dogs over 30 days. Pet owners collected stool samples at various points throughout the duration of the study, which Petcurean collected and sent for microbiome analysis. Pet owners were also asked to score their dogs’ stool quality using a standard chart provided by Petcurean.

Average bacterial read counts for differentially abundant bacteria

Figure 1: Average bacterial read counts for differentially abundant bacteria. *Bacterial read counts were CLR-transformed. 

| Source: Petcurean 

This resulted in two revelations. First, dogs fed Petcurean’s Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe showed “notable reductions” to pathogenic bacterial groups in the microbiome compared to the control diet.

“There are two different pathogenic groups of bacteria — Escherichia and Streptococcus — which are normal to have in the gut microbiome but, in increased amounts, they can lead to things like dysbiosis and diarrhea,” Asaro explained. “What we saw in the study was that pets on the Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe tended to have lower levels of both Escherichia and Streptococcus, which is indicative of the fact that this recipe may help limit overgrowth of those bacterial groups, showing a benefit to the gut microbiome and digestive health overall.”

According to Petcurean, elevated levels of Escherichia and Streptococcus in the gut microbiome are associated with chronic small intestine diseases and other gastrointestinal disorders. For example, dogs with an overgrowth of Escherichia are more likely to encounter inflammatory bowel disease, which can result in diarrhea.

This leads into the second key finding in Petcurean’s study — dogs fed Petcurean’s Go! Solutions Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe with Ancient Grains also showed improved fecal scores compared to the control group.

“Pets on the control diet had a fecal score of around four, which is indicative of softer stool, whereas dogs fed our Digestion + Gut Health recipe had ideal stool scores [a median score of three],” Asaro said. “That’s really exciting for us, not only to see positive results, but to see results that pet parents can also see.”

Fecal scoring chart provided to study participants to assess stool quality

Figure 1: Fecal scoring chart provided to study participants to assess stool quality, provided by AnimalBiome. Type 3 is considered ideal, whereas 1-2 are associated with constipation, 4-5 with loose stools, and 6-7 with diarrhea. 

| Source: AnimalBiome 

According to the company, stool quality is one of the most important indicators of whether a pet is thriving on its current diet or if a change should be considered. Petcurean also noted that because dogs’ stool quality improved during the diet transition required by the study, the formula points to protective benefits when pet owners are looking to transition a diet due to digestive upset.

“We’re really seeing a big shift toward gut health in the industry,” Asaro said. “That’s why we wanted to bring the recipe to market in the first place. But we also wanted to commission a study that could provide hard-hitting data behind the recipe to show pet parents that, not only are we bringing this to market, but we have research to show what the diet can potentially do to help their pets’ gut health.”

Petcurean added its Go! Solutions Digestion + Gut Health Salmon Recipe with Ancient Grains in April 2022 as part of an expansion to its existing Go! Solutions line of functional pet food formulas for dogs and cats.

The recipe is formulated with deboned salmon, a patented probiotic blend to support digestion, a three-yeast blend, ancient grains such as millet, quinoa, sorghum and oats, psyllium husk for fiber, and apples, carrots and cranberries to deliver antioxidants.

Read the full whitepaper from the study on Petcurean’s website here.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.