Light dog food products to prevent obesity: concept and reality.
Light products are advised to prevent obesity settlement in dogs that have lower energetic requirements: breeds gaining weight naturally (Labrador, Beagle, Spaniel…), neutered or sterilized dogs, or low active dogs because of their environment or their age. Then, the "light" claim first means "light in energy". This result is obtained through the restriction of the fat content, and the increase of the vegetable fiber content, that represents the bulk of the diet.
Practically, this concept is spoiled because of the influence of 3 main marketing tendencies.
Confusion with slimming dietetic products
Light products are an intermediate step betwen normal maintenance products and real dietetic products qualified as "hypocaloric", and designed for the treatment of an already settled obesity.
These dietetic products are still poorer in energy, and formulated in order to be distributed in limited quantities compared to the theoritical requirements. Then, they must be enriched with minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and amino-acids… It is the case for Canistar S1 from Royal Canin dietetic range.
- General inflation of the fat content in maintenance products
Today, most of the premium maintenance food proposed by our american competitors contain between 16 and 20 % of fat, that distorts the comparison scale. In these conditions, a dogfood is considered as a light product as soon as its fat content goes under 12 % ! It is the case for Eukanuba Light and Eukanuba Senior (10 % fat, over 3800 kcal/ kg) ; this energetic value is finally close to M25 one (3900 kcal/ kg).
It is not the case for Hill's Light (Science Diet) that contains only 6 % fat and brings less than 2800 kcal/ kg. But this product is handicaped by its very low palatability.
- Confusion between older dog and obese / kidney deficient dog
Some products aim at answering older dogs requirements : they are called "senior products". In general, their energetic and proteic level are both reduced compared to maintenance products. These restrictions are justified by wrong arguments:
- "any older dog is likely to get weight in excess" : but it is far to be the truth ;
- "an early proteic restriction can slow down the progression of a starting renal deficiency in an older dog" : but it has never been proved in the dog. Only the phosphorus restriction seems to be interesting to delay the apparition of some clinical signs of kidney deficiency. (This is why LA 23 contains only 0.6 % phosphorus).
The result consists in mixed products, advised to senior dogs in general, without any distinction, even if they are far to form a homogeneous group. Hill's Senior (17 / 10) and ProPlan Light (15 / 9) are the main examples.
A light product is fist designed for dogs who are likely to gain weight in excess. Secondarily, it may suit to older dogs that have a tendancy to get fat, but it cannot pretend to be suitable for all senior dogs.
Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website