Dog, the man's best friend? Today we could even add that it is member of the family, entitled to the same quality of health care, comfort and food as the rest of the household. People who set high standards for their nutrition apply the same to their four-legged friend. To meet the growing demand for quality diets, the dog food industry innovates and improves constantly. Here are the strong trends for this year:
Although dogs can live on vegetable proteins, they are carnivore and it is essential to provide them with good-quality animal proteins. Poorly nutritious « meat by-products » and « fillers » such as corn have bad press. Good labels are now offering diets with a high percentage of meat or even B.A.R.F. diets: « Biologically Appropriate Raw Food ». These foods, although excellent, have two disadvantages. One is their prohibitive cost, especially to feed medium and large breeds and the second is that they counter another current strong trend: the wish for sustainable and responsible consumption behaviors.
A new, highly nutritious animal protein is replacing meat, though, in the dog’s bowl : insect protein. Insects are remarkably rich in protein (33% more than meat, with all essential amino acids), vitamins and minerals and comply with the ecological principles of sustainable development.
Every day brings its new warnings from the scientific community. Our planet is overexploited, its resources can’t be replaced at a rate fast enough to compensate for its use. Livestock farming is singled out as one of the main atmosphere polluters and as an abusive and inefficient user of land, water and cereal crops. Solutions lie in stabilizing or even reducing global demand for animal meat and in the use of alternative proteins.
In this context, insect protein is one of the most promising alternatives for meat (1). Insect farming is sustainable, ethical and doesn’t pollute. For similiar volume they have greater protein content and are antibiotic and GMO-free.
While dog foods made of insect protein have been shyly emerging for a couple of years, 2018 will see them gain popularity in the dog bowl. Dogs love its meaty taste with a nutty hint and owners find the ideal high-protein and eco-responsible product to both reinforce their pet’s health and to support our planet environment.
The gluten-free trend in human nutrition observed over the recent years has been transposed to dog food. Just like for humans, many digestive problems affect dogs. Food intolerances can be exacerbated by gluten found in cereals such as wheat, oats or barley. If 2017 was the gluten-free year in the dog food industry, the trend seems to stay strong in 2018. Moreover the number of dogs allergic to their current meals increases every year. Dog food based on insect protein is gaining popularity also for this reason because of its hypoallergenic qualities.
Let’s bet the appetite towards them has only just begun!
(1) Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use? Peter Alexander, Calum Brown, Almuth Arneth, Clare Dias, John Finnigan, Dominic Moran, Mark D.A. Rounsevell. Global Food Security, Volume 15, December 2017, Pages 22-32
Véronique Glorieux is a canadian-board veterinarian who cumulates more than 10 years of medical work and experience with dogs and cats. Animal wellfare and environment are 2 topics that moves her. She lives now in Berlin, where she co-founded Eat Small and uses her experience in a different field of practice. With healthy and sustainable insect-based pet food she aims to support both the health of pets and of the planet.