palatability (is it tasty?)
*Palatability is the nutrient and toxin content of the food, the nutritional needs of the animal, and the animal's past experience with the food. The senses (smell, taste, sight) enable animals to discriminate among foods and provide pleasant or unpleasant feelings associated with eating.
01 dogs are tricked to like their meat-based food with artificial additives
Palatants another word for flavor enhancer are applied to pet foods to improve their inherent taste and increase pet acceptability. This taste enhancer was originally referred to as “digests”, essentially these are proteins broken down enzymatically to provide a sensory impact of meat flavors. These palatants can be characterized as complex systems that consist of a variety of macros and micro-molecules improving the sensory experiences of the pets and pet-owners, masking unpleasant tastes and off-flavors, and enhancing appetite in pets. Commercially available palatants, are used as flavoring agents, and most often classified as either dry powders (generally added in amounts between 0.5% and 2%) or liquids (generally added in amounts between 1% and 3%) and are most commonly sprayed onto dry food, although a few could be added as an ingredient during manufacturing processing. a two-step coating process is adopted where in the flavorant and phosphate are applied to the pet food, followed by spraying of an acidic enhancer.
Link to article: Samant, Shilpa S., Philip Glen Crandall, Sara E. Jarma Arroyo, and Han-Seok Seo. 2021. "Dry Pet Food Flavor Enhancers and Their Impact on Palatability: A Review" Foods 10, no. 11: 2599.
02 plant-based petfood is equally tasty as meat-based to dogs and cats
This study surveyed 4,060 dog or cat guardians to determine the importance to them of pet food palatability, and the degree to which their animals displayed specific behavioural indicators of palatability at meal times. For the 2,308 dogs included, reported observations of 10 behavioural indicators of palatability at meal times reliably indicated significant effects of increased reports of appetitive behaviour by dogs on a raw meat diet, as opposed to a conventional diet. There was no consistent evidence of a difference between vegan diets and either the conventional or raw meat diets. For the 1,135 cats included, reported observations of 15 behavioural indicators indicated that diet made little difference to food-oriented behaviour. Based on these owner-reported behaviours, our results indicate that vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets.
Link to article: Knight A, Satchell L (2021) Correction: Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare. PLOS ONE 16(11)