Cat and dog food diets high in animal proteins and fats and low in carbohydrates are called biologically appropriate. This pet food category is growing faster than the pet food market as a whole. However, there is very little published research on whether there are real health benefits of biologically appropriate diets for pets, said Emma Bermingham, PhD, senior research scientist, AgResearch, at Petfood Forum 2017 on April 4 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Biologically appropriate pet food diets can come in a variety of formats, not just raw, she said, and these diets still need to be complete and balanced.

Growth of sales of biologically appropriate pet foods has been fueled by anecdotal reports of health benefits and marketing focusing on the domestication of cats and dogs from their wild ancestors. The fact that neither the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nor the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) stipulate a requirement for carbohydrates may also have had an impact on the growth of high-protein high-fat diets, said Bermingham.

Evolutionary and genomic evidence

Since there is very little published research on biologically appropriate pet food diets, Bermingham said human and rodent studies have been extrapolated to cats and dogs. Rodents and humans are omnivores, but cats are obligate carnivores, they need animal protein and fats, and the amino acid balance is important. Bermingham said cats also have a low drive to drink water.

Genetically, cats appear to be closer to their wild cousins than do dogs, said Bermingham…

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