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article imageScience of aromas used to make dog food more palatable

By Tim Sandle     Jan 22, 2021 in Science
Science has led to an improvement in pet food over the past few decades, but can chemistry go further? Researchers have undertaken chemical analysis of dog food in order to encourage the fussiest of eaters.
Can science make dog food more palatable? Perhaps the first question should be, why bother given that many dogs seem to eat anything? Yet this isn’t always the case, either where the canine is a fussy eater or where the more healthy option of food is regarded as a less desirable option (from the animals’ point-of-view); or where the dog requires a different diet on health grounds.
This issue becomes more challenging when dietary intervention is required to improve the health of a dog. It is important in general that pet foods are balanced with the right nutrients such as foods that build-up blood amino acids. This can mean more protein being available for pets like cats and dogs so they can build up muscle and other important proteins.
A terrier-type mixed-breed dog.
A terrier-type mixed-breed dog.
Chris Barber (CC BY 2.0)
Many animal researchers think that the answer to improving pet preference lies in the aroma, given the greater sensitivity that many animals have in terms of olfactory sensing compared with humans.
To assist with the development of pet food aroma in order to optimize pet nutrition, a team of scientists have identified the essential aroma compounds that can be used to enhance dog food in order for that food become most appealing to canines.
While the scientists, from Jiangnan University, had previously identified specific volatile compounds in dog food, little research had been undertaken in relation to the extent that aroma compounds shape how readily, or otherwise, a dog eats the food.
To begin the exercise, the Chinese scientists investigated the aromas in six common types of dog food. They then experimented by feeding six adult beagles one of six foods for one hour at a time. Careful observations were undertaken to assess the quantity of food consumed.
A visit to the dog park seems to always bring a smile to the pooch s face.
A visit to the dog park seems to always bring a smile to the pooch's face.
The analysis showed that three of the foods were consumed up to four more compared with the other three pet foods. This led to the next step, which was to determine the difference between these two sets of food.
The process used to make the assessment was mass spectrometry. Using this technique, which shows the constituent parts of a compound, the scientists identified 12 volatile aroma molecules that could be positively or negatively correlated.
To test out the analysis, the research center infused each identified aroma into a specially prepared odorless food For the next round of the study, the dog were offered a choice between food with an identified compounds and a portion of the odorless food.
This led to the experimental outcome that dogs tend to have a preference for food containing the chemical (E)-2-hexenal. Interestingly, people tend to find this chemical unpleasant and it has a fatty odor). Dogs also favor 2-furfurylthiol (which has a roasted and smoky odor) and 4-methyl-5-thiazoleethanol (which provides a meaty odor).
This information can prove of value for optimizing pet foods for dogs and to help dogs to maintain a more nutritive-rich and beneficial diet.
The research has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The research study is titled "Characterization of the Key Aroma Compounds in Dog Foods by Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry, Acceptance Test, and Preference Test."
More about Dogs, Dog food, Taste, Aroma
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