Dogs' digestive system health may be improved by consuming carbohydrates from pine trees, according to new collaborative studies by US Department of Agriculture, university and corporate scientists.
The carbohydrates, known as GGMOs (galactoglucomannan oligosaccharides), are a by-product of treating wood chips that remain after trees are cut into lumber. The chips are treated with heat, high pressure and water to separate them into cellulosic fiber and hemicellulosic carbs, such as the GGMOs.
USDA Agricultural Research Service chemist Neil P.J. Price began his studies of these fiber-rich carbs in 2007 under the terms of a cooperative agreement with a company called Temple-Inland. This Texas, USA-based producer of wood products made from loblolly pine and other southern yellow pine trees approached ARS about potential new applications of the carbs.
Price used proton magnetic resonance and other analytical techniques to study the potential benefits of the carbs as a petfood ingredient. This research led to another collaborative study directed by George C. Fahey, Jr., a University of Illinois emeritus professor of animal sciences.
In the second study, purified GGMOs from southern yellow pine were added, in place of dietary cellulose, to a high-quality kibble at the rate of 0.5-8 percent. The kibble, or a "control" kibble containing no added GGMOs, was then fed to six healthy female dogs. Analyses of the dogs' fecal samples showed that increasing the percentage of pine GGMOs in the kibble was, in general, associated linearly with several significant indicators of a healthy lower digestive system, including an increase in populations of beneficial Bifidobacterium bacteria.