To compare metabolomic profiles of dogs eating grain-free (GF) versus grain-inclusive (GI) diets (1) for healthy dogs at baseline and (2) for dogs with subclinical cardiac abnormalities at 12 months after a diet change.
Serum samples from 23 dogs eating GF diets and 79 dogs eating GI diets, of which 17 (8 eating a GF diet and 9 eating a GI diet) were reevaluated 12 months after a diet change.
Metabolomic profiles were developed by means of ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectroscopy of serum samples. Baseline results for the GF group were compared with those for the GI group. Dogs from both groups with subclinical cardiac abnormalities were transitioned to a GI, pulse-free, intervention diet, and samples collected 12 months later were compared between diet groups. Statistical significance for biochemical group differences was defined as P < .05 with a false discovery rate (q) < .10.
Baseline differences in lipid metabolism and amino acid metabolism were found between the GF and GI diet groups. There were 46 metabolites that were higher and 82 metabolites that were lower in the GF group (n = 23), compared with the GI group (79). Comparison of the GF (n = 8) and GI (9) groups 12 months after the diet change showed only 6 metabolites that were higher and 11 metabolites that were lower in the GF group, compared with the GI group.
Metabolomic pathway differences between dogs eating GF versus GI diets highlight the important effect of diet in metabolomics analyses. The clinical importance of these differences and how they might relate to cardiac disease in dogs remains undetermined.