On October 30, 2012

Canine nutrition: Breed-specific versus all-breed diets

In developing specialized dog foods, consider marketing strategy in addition to differences in nutrient responses between breeds

["Between deficiency and toxicity there is a wide range of intakes that allow optimal health and performance.", "Breed-specific foods have surplus value when they control breed-specific disease.", "A pet owner does not look for a dog food but for a food suitable for his or her own dog."]

Dog food marketing is dominated by trends. Differentiation, humanization and individualization are product trends initiated by the petfood industry. Dog owners’ attitudes have inspired the natural trend.

Lifestage nutrition, as opposed to a single complete diet for all ages and breeds, and functional foods with health claims are forms of individualization. Another form is breed-specific, lifestage diets. Lifestage foods are justified by the age dependency of both nutrient requirements and risk of disease. Functional foods are justified by the influence of nutrition on disease management. What is the justification for breed-specific versus all-breed dog diets?

The nutrient composition  of a complete dog food should guarantee optimal health. There is a general relationship between nutrient intake and the animal’s reaction. Long-term, low nutrient intakes produce disease, growth retardation or impaired reproduction: the state of deficiency. Long-term, high nutrient intakes also cause disorders: the state of toxicity.

Between deficiency and toxicity there is a wide range of intakes that allow optimal health and performance. The animal can adapt absorption, excretion and metabolism of the nutrient (or its metabolites) so neither deficiency nor toxicity develops.

Between breeds there  can be differences in the nutrient-response relationship. Great Danes have a greater calcium requirement for…

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