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Pasture to paw: Pet nutrition starts on the farm

November 27, 2017

The quality and stability of animal-derived food products, including pet foods, will depend on the management, diet and genetics of that animal. What an animal is fed can directly impact their antioxidant defense system. Incorporating dietary antioxidants and other functional feed ingredients can minimize oxidative damage, which will impact the end product (and pet food ingredient): meat.

When we are talking about food, whether for people or pets, oxidative deterioration will impact palatability. Oxidative damage to lipids and proteins produces rancid off-flavors and off-odors and decreases textural characteristics. But even more importantly, when proteins are oxidized, there is a loss of important amino acids, which are necessary for pets’ growth, development and overall health.

More to minerals

Minerals are necessary for proper biological function and good health. They are especially important in maintaining the antioxidant and oxidant balance within humans, livestock and pets. Some key players involved in maintaining this balance are antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase, catalase and superoxide dismutase. But, minerals are a double-edged sword. They can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the quantity fed and the form used.

Going full circle

Making sure pets get the right nutrition for optimal health means we need to look at what livestock animals are fed.

Organically complexed minerals are more bioavailable than their inorganic counterparts, which means we don’t need to add as many minerals to the diet of livestock. By replacing and reducing the amount of minerals in the diet, we can restore the oxidative balance in the animal and, in turn, the meat ingredient in pet food. Research has shown that feeding organically complexed forms of selenium, iron, zinc and copper can increase antioxidant enzyme activity in skeletal muscle. Also, by including fat-soluble antioxidants, such as vitamin E and/or carotenoids, we can inhibit lipid oxidation and subsequently protein oxidation in muscle. This will translate to more nutritious, delicious and better-quality ingredients being fed to pets.

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