Sunday, February 21, 2010

Calorie content of diet pet foods varies.(Bottom Line of Nutrition:Beef).

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DOG and cat owners who buy weight control foods for their overweight pets face a confusing variation in calorie density, recommended intake and cost range of low-calorie pet foods, according to a study by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn., examined nearly 100 commercially available pet foods with weight management claims.

Among the findings is that dry dog foods range in calorie density from 217 to 440 kcal per cup while the recommended intake ranges from 0.73 to 1.47 times the dog's resting energy requirement. The diets also greatly varied in price--from 4 cents to more than $1.10/kcal, the announcement said.

Similar calorie findings were made in wet dog food (189-398 kcal per can) and cat food (235-480 kcal per cup) marketed for weight control.

The results may be significant for owners whose cats or dogs are overweight or obese, according to Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, professor of nutrition at the Cummings School and co-author of the study. Nearly 50% of domesticated animals are overweight or obese.

"There is so much information--and misinformation--about pet foods. It's understandable that people are confused about what to feed their dogs and cats," said Freeman. "To counteract these myths, people are accustomed to turning to the labels on food. However, as this study shows, packaging might not always be a reliable source of information."

Under federal guidelines, pet foods labeled with the terms lite, light, less calorie or low calorie must provide the caloric content. Foods with a light, lite, or low-calorie designation must also adhere to a maximum kilocalorie-per-kilogram restriction. However, Freeman pointed out that more than half of the foods evaluated in the study exceeded this maximum.

Foods without these designations currently are allowed to provide the caloric content on the label but are not required to do so. Efforts are underway to make this information required on all pet food labels, the announcement said.

Another important issue identified in this study was the high variability in feeding recommendations for weight loss based on the labels evaluated.

In fact, for most of the pet foods evaluated, pets would not lose weight or would actually gain weight if owners adhered to the label's feeding directions and did not adjust according to their pet's individual calorie requirements, the study found.

Obesity in companion animals is associated with causing numerous diseases, including pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, dermatologic disease, diabetes and respiratory tract diseases. Obesity also may contribute to a shorter lifespan, according to earlier published studies.

Calorie density of the pet foods was gathered from the product packaging and by contacting manufacturers. Freeman studied 44 canine and 49 feline foods.

Source Citation
"Calorie content of diet pet foods varies." Feedstuffs 82.7 (2010): 13. Agriculture Collection. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.
Document URL

Gale Document Number:A219143451

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