April 06, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Beagles fed high-fat, low carbohydrate diets

Interpretive Summary: Apparent total tract digestibility, fecal characteristics, and blood parameters of healthy adult dogs fed high-fat diets

By: Anne Wallace

The demand for low carbohydrate diets in companion animals necessitates reformulation of commercial dog food. Current formulations contain more calories from carbohydrates than fat, necessitating changes in both fat and carbohydrate content to meet minimum energy needs. Higher fat content derived from fats and oils replace calories from carbohydrates in lower carbohydrate feed. However, health effects of high fat diets on adult dogs is not well understood.

In this March 2020 Journal of Animal Science article, researchers looked at how high-fat, low carbohydrate diets impacted the health of adult Beagles. Parameters studied included overall health status (e.g. complete blood count, blood chemistry, pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity), apparent total tract digestibility, and fecal characteristics. Dogs were fed one of four diets containing different percentages of calories from fat (32%, 37%, 42% and 47% respectively). As a comparison, typical dog food is 8-22% fat in dry kibble and 20-32% fat in canned dog food.

With increasing dietary fat, fecal output decreased, but there were no other changes to fecal quality or content. With higher fat content, total tract digestibility improved. In blood, with increased fat intake, nitrogen decreased, pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity was unchanged, and other blood parameters measured showed no difference between the lower and higher fat groups.

Overall, this study suggests that increasing the dietary fat content of commercial dog food did not show any detrimental health effects to measured blood parameters or fecal stool quality in adult Beagles. Expanded studies looking at other breeds and the potential long-term effects of high fat diets on the health of adult dogs is justified.