About this Research Topic
World-wide, pets are living longer and are facing the same nutritional maladies as humans (e.g., obesity, diabetes). Consequently, there is increasing interest in the health benefits of diets for them. Cats and dogs are carnivores, and as such have evolved to metabolize diets that are rich in highly digestible animal protein and fats. The morphology of their intestinal tracts reflects these requirements – being relatively short with the surface area of the small intestine (approximately 90% of the total surface area of the entire gastrointestinal tract). Despite this, many pets are fed commercial pet foods that contain high levels of dietary carbohydrate, even though both species have no nutritional requirement for this nutrient.
High protein and high fat diets (Bone and Raw Food, meat-based diets, exotic protein sources) contain little or no added carbohydrate. If carbohydrate is present, it is usually from sources other than grain (e.g., sweet potato). There is an intrinsic belief among the manufacturers of these diets and the consumers who buy these diets that they provide optimal nutrition to the pet. However, the evidence is largely anecdotal, extrapolated from the ecological literature of closely related species or based on consumer feedback. There is scant data in the scientific literature on the nutrition of ‘all-meat’ diets and their impact on the health of pets, and much of what is published pertains to exotic felids. Interpretation of the results of dog and cat studies tends to be based on what is known about omnivorous species. Additionally, there are concerns regarding the safety of high protein and high fat diets when fed in a raw format.
This Research Topic is attempting to understand the peculiarities of the carnivore gut through integrated study of diet composition, animal physiological responses (e.g., protein digestibility, fecal metabolites) and the composition of the intestinal microbiome. We want to focus on the effects of feeding biologically appropriate (Bone and Raw Food, meat-based etc) diets on pet health, including intestinal microbiota.
Keywords: Intestinal microbiota, cat, dog, animal physiology, diet composition
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