Making Dog Food More Delectable
When a pet is crying out for food, it's sometimes hard to resist giving him a taste of your meal. Dogs are not known for being picky eaters, eating the same kibble day after day with relish. However, spoiled pooch owners want their pets to have the best possible dining experience, especially for the rare picky canine. While pets of all kinds are known to beg, dogs tend to do it most often. There are several human foods that can be fed to dogs on occasion.
Now, researchers reporting the results of a pilot study in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have identified the key flavor compounds in dog foods that appear to be most appealing to dogs.
For dogs, palatability depends on the appearance, smell, taste and texture of the food, just as it does for humans. Previous studies have suggested that odor is particularly important to dogs. Some scientists have identified volatile compounds in dog food, but little is known about how specific aroma compounds influence the ease with which the dog eats the food. Maoshen Chen and colleagues set out to identify key aroma compounds in six dog foods and correlate these compounds with dogs' consumption of these foods.
In this small study, the researchers began by giving six adult beagles one of the six foods for one hour each and determined how much of the food the dogs ingested. The consumption of three of the foods was two to four times higher than the other three foods. Using mass spectrometry, the researchers found that 12 volatile aroma molecules were correlated, positively or negatively, with the beagles' consumption of the six foods. Next, the researchers added each aromatic compound to an odorless food and gave the beagles a choice between a food containing one of the compounds and the odorless food itself.
From these experiments, the team determined that the dogs preferred foods containing several compounds, including (E)-2-hexenal (which humans associate with an unpleasant fatty odor), 2-furfurylthiol (a sulfurous, toasty, smoky smell), and 4-methyl-5-thiazoleethanol (a meaty smell).
In contrast, dogs did not like foods containing (E)-2-octenal (a slightly different unpleasant, greasy odor).
Although more breeds of dogs and more subjects need to be tested, these results may help dog food manufacturers formulate more palatable foods, the researchers say.
Source: American Chemical Society.
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