BENTONVILLE, ARK. — BSM Partners released a new six-month study revealing that both grain-inclusive and grain-free dog food formulas had no negative impacts on food digestibility in canines. The research was published in a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Animal Science.

“This long-duration, controlled prospective study provides important insights that will inform the scientific community's ongoing work to better understand and improve canine health,” said Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., board-certified companion animal nutritionist, special services assistant director at BSM Partners, and co-author of the article.

BSM animal nutritionists and veterinarians collaborated with the University of Illinois to develop the study. It aims to understand the impacts that pulse ingredients, which are often used in grain-free diets, have on digestibility, as well as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

“While some have postulated that pulse-rich diets could perhaps be a cause of nutrition-associated DCM in canines due to a potentially negative effect on digestibility, our results showed all diets were highly digestible,” the article read.

Researchers created four different diets for dogs, two of which were grain-free and contained pulse ingredients, potatoes, and low or high amounts of animal protein; and two of which were grain-inclusive, formulated without any pulse ingredients or potatoes, and contained low or high amounts of animal protein. The diets were extruded and fed to Beagles and mixed-breed hounds over the course of six months.

Researchers evaluated the macronutrient digestibility of each diet by examining dogs’ fecal characteristics, fecal metabolites and fecal microbiota.

“High inclusion of pulses as the primary sources of carbohydrate and protein in extruded diets for adult dogs resulted in pronounced shifts in fecal microbiota and metabolites, particularly, increased concentration of short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for gut health,” said Maria R. C. de Godoy, Ph.D., co-author of the article and Associate Professor of Companion Animal and Comparative Nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Clare Hsu, co-author of the article and doctoral student under Godoy, added, “Fecal concentration of primary bile acids also increased with high pulse inclusion. This finding is consistent with previous literature evaluating the effects of pulses or grain-free diets on fecal metabolites and microbiota.”

Read the full study here.

Stay up to date on the latest pet food processing industry headlines on our News page.