DONGEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Protix released results of its latest study on March 5, demonstrating a positive impact of insect-based ingredients on dental heath in canines. According to Protix, the promising results of the study open up opportunities for pet food processors to develop new insect-based foods and treats that target a growing need-state in pets: oral health.

According to various research, periodontal disease is one of the biggest and most common health problems in dogs, as an estimated 80% of animals three years and older have the disease. According to Protix, the disease is often first identified through “less-than-fragrant” breath, identified as halitosis (bad breath). Halitosis is believed to be mostly caused by sulfur-producing bacteria, which can break down food proteins, amino acids, mucins, oral fluids and cells, releasing odorous volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are responsible for aggravating periodontal disease. According to Protix, halitosis is a marker of possible tooth and gum disease in pets.

Protix's whitepaper on the oral health benefits insect-based pet foods provide caninesSource: Protix

The study, published in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed, was conducted by researchers at the Federal University of Paraiba (UFBP) in Brazil and sponsored by Protix. It involved eight female beagles, half of which were fed an extruded, dry kibble diet formulated with poultry byproduct meal, and the other half were fed a comparable diet formulated with ProteinX©, Protix’s insect-based protein meal made from black soldier fly larvae (BSFL). The inclusion level of ProteinX in the comparable diet was 29.4%. The dogs were fed their respective diets for 50 days, then fed the opposite diet for another 50 days.

During the study, researchers from the UFBP reported a 7% decrease in the VSC-producing bacteria in the dental plaque of the dogs fed the diet with BSFL. Additionally, based on a metagenomic analysis, the BSFL diet seemed to modulate saliva microbiota as an abundance of Moreaxella, a beneficial bacterium, was noted in the dogs’ saliva.

A panel of blind subjects also evaluated the dogs’ breath after each 50-day period. Using an organoleptic intensity scale, the dogs fed the BSFL diet reportedly had a “barely noticeable odor,” scoring a one, whereas the dogs fed the poultry byproduct diet had a “slight but noticeable odor,” scoring a two.

According to Protix, these findings demonstrate that black soldier fly have the potential to help increase dental and gum health, as well as improve bad breath, in dogs. Additionally, according to the company, the study opens further opportunities for pet food manufacturers to expand their claims for a number of BSFL-based products, from dog treats to dry and wet foods.

Protix’s ProteinX combines palatability with high digestibility and is also hypoallergenic. According to the company, it is also more sustainable in terms of land and water usage and carbon emissions compared to traditional protein sources.

“We know that scientific facts are important to our customers and end-consumers in making decisions about their pets’ diets,” said Bruna Loureiro, Ph.D., co-author of the study, lead researcher at the UFBP, and product development manager at Protix. “We are committed to working with leading partners to establish a body of factual evidence to allow pet parents to make informed decisions.”

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