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Nutrigenomics for companion animals

12th October, 2011

World-wide pets are increasingly considered to be more than simply animals sharing our homes, and are now often regarded as members of the family. “Humanisation” of our pets is common place - pets face the same nutritional maladies as humans (i.e., obesity, diabetes and related diseases) and are living longer. Consumers demand the same (if not greater!) health and wellness attributes from pet foods.

A recent study done jointly by AgResearch and Centre of Feline Nutrition (Massey University) showed that short-term exposure to different dietary formats (canned versus kibble diets) can drastically alter the intestinal microbiota of domestic cats. On-going research also showed that meat-based diets (as opposed to dry diets), the natural diet for cats, resulted in a more beneficial microbiota profile in the intestinal tract of the domestic cat. Pet foods are already personalised to a certain extent (age-categorised, or categorised by sensitivities such as gastrointestinal problems), but nutrigenomics might be the next step for healthy and tasty meals for our furry companions.

Bermingham et al. 2011; Five-week dietary exposure to dry diets alters the faecal bacterial populations in the domestic cat (Felis catus). British Journal of Nutrition.