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Comparison of the nutrient composition of commercial dog milk replacers with that of dog milk

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 3 Department of Neonatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215.
  • | 4 Conservation Ecology Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Washington, DC 37012.
  • | 5 Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To compare the nutrient composition of commercially available dog milk replacers with that of dog milk.

Design—Prospective, cross-sectional study.

Sample—5 dog milk samples and 15 samples of commercial dog milk replacers.

Procedures—Dog milk and milk replacers were analyzed for concentrations of total protein, essential amino acids, sugars, total fat, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus. Energy density was calculated. Results from milk replacers were compared with the range of the concentration of each nutrient in milk samples from mature dogs as well as the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for puppy growth.

Results—Milk replacers varied widely in caloric density and concentration of nutrients such as calcium, protein, and fat. Calcium concentration was lower in 14 of 15 milk replacers than in the dog milk samples. Docosahexaenoic acid was undetectable in 12 of 15 milk replacers but present in all dog milk samples. All milk replacers had numerous essential nutrients outside of the range of the dog milk samples, and many had concentrations of amino acids, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus less than the NRC minimal requirement or recommended allowance. Compared with NRC recommendations, some dog milk samples had concentrations of total protein, linoleic acid, calcium, or phosphorus less than the recommended allowance.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that there was substantial variation in nutrient composition of 15 dog milk replacers and that some products were closer approximations of dog milk than others. Nearly all products would benefit from more appropriate calcium, amino acids, and essential fatty acids concentrations and better feeding directions.

Abstract

Objective—To compare the nutrient composition of commercially available dog milk replacers with that of dog milk.

Design—Prospective, cross-sectional study.

Sample—5 dog milk samples and 15 samples of commercial dog milk replacers.

Procedures—Dog milk and milk replacers were analyzed for concentrations of total protein, essential amino acids, sugars, total fat, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus. Energy density was calculated. Results from milk replacers were compared with the range of the concentration of each nutrient in milk samples from mature dogs as well as the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for puppy growth.

Results—Milk replacers varied widely in caloric density and concentration of nutrients such as calcium, protein, and fat. Calcium concentration was lower in 14 of 15 milk replacers than in the dog milk samples. Docosahexaenoic acid was undetectable in 12 of 15 milk replacers but present in all dog milk samples. All milk replacers had numerous essential nutrients outside of the range of the dog milk samples, and many had concentrations of amino acids, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus less than the NRC minimal requirement or recommended allowance. Compared with NRC recommendations, some dog milk samples had concentrations of total protein, linoleic acid, calcium, or phosphorus less than the recommended allowance.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that there was substantial variation in nutrient composition of 15 dog milk replacers and that some products were closer approximations of dog milk than others. Nearly all products would benefit from more appropriate calcium, amino acids, and essential fatty acids concentrations and better feeding directions.

Contributor Notes

Supported by a grant from Nestlé Purina PetCare.

Presented in abstract form at the 13th Annual American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Clinical Nutrition and Research Symposium, Seattle, June 2013.

The authors thank Lily Johnson and Zengshou Yu for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Heinze (cailin.heinze@tufts.edu).