Dog and cat food feeding trials must meet challenges posed by diets formulated to satisfy both consumers’ demands and nutritionists’ guidance. For Royal Canin, that means finding dog breeders to help develop formulations specifically for Chihuahuas, Boxers or Persians. Meanwhile at Summit Ridge Farms, feeding trials involve a wide range of physical and laboratory evaluations to observe how dogs react to novel ingredients.
Novel ingredients in pet food feeding trials
Food trends in human cuisine, such as quinoa or turmeric, now frequently and quickly move into the pet food formulator’s kitchen. These trendy items may be considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for Homo sapiens by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Feeding trial evaluation of these novel ingredients is important, said Ryan Krupovich, director of operations at Summit Ridge Farms, especially when there is no previous data on how dogs and cats react to them.
Breed-specific pet food feeding trials
Just as there is no data on how certain ingredients affect dogs and cats, information does not always exist on specific breeds’ nutritional needs and sensitivities. Royal Canin focuses on creating specialized pet foods, which includes breed-specific varieties. However, when Royal Canin’s pet food formulators set out to create diets for West Highland White Terriers or Cavalier King Charles dogs, the company may not have its own kennel of that breed.
“That’s why I think our partnership with veterinarians and breeders comes in, because it gives us access to the prescribers that know that breed or that species best.” Kamie Eckert, president of Royal Canin’s United States division. “So, we do feeding trials in a variety of different ways but a lot of it is in partnership with our prescriber network.”
“They also really know the breed,” she said. “So, when they try the diets and they are part of that, they are the ones that can first spot the outcomes and that is what we’re looking for – it’s the visible outcome that the pet owner will see and the breeders often a great person to spot that.”