Research Notes Research Notes

The nutrient composition of dog milk replacers vs. dog milk

The objective of this study was to compare the nutrient composition of commercially available dog milk replacers with that of dog milk. Five dog milk samples and 15 dog samples of commercial dog milk replacers were analyzed for concentrations of total protein, essential amino acids, sugars, total fat, essential fatty acids, calcium and phosphorus. Energy density was calculated. Results from milk replacers were compared with the range of the concentration of each nutrient in milk samples from mature dogs as well as the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for puppy growth.

Milk replacers varied widely in caloric density and concentration of nutrients such as calcium, protein and fat. Calcium concentration was lower in 14 of 15 milk replacers than in the dog milk samples. Docosahexaenoic acid was undetectable in 12 of 15 milk replacers but present in all dog milk samples. All milk replacers had numerous essential nutrients outside of the range of the dog milk samples, and many had concentrations of amino acids, essential fatty acids, calcium and phosphorus less than the NRC minimal requirement or recommended allowance. Compared with NRC recommendations, some dog milk samples had concentrations of total protein, linoleic acid, calcium or phosphorus less than the recommended allowance.

Results suggested that there was substantial variation in nutrient composition of 15 dog milk replacers and that some products were closer approximations of dog milk than others. Nearly all products would benefit from more appropriate calcium, amino acids and essential fatty acids concentrations and better feeding directions.

Source:  Cailin R. Heinze et al., 2014. Comparison of the nutrient composition of commercial dog milk replacers with that of dog milk. JAVMA online, June 2014. doi: 10.2460/javma.244.12.1413.