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January 4, 2016

Pets are living longer, fuller lives thanks to a sea of ingredients from the ocean.

Recent studies from Cornell University have found that high-fat diets can significantly increase the already incredible sense of smell in dogs. Other studies have found a positive correlation in offering fish oil to dogs with epilepsy, and another has identified a positive effect of essential fatty acids on pets with dermatitis. Amino acids found in fish have been proven to decrease inflammation, improve immunity, strengthen muscles and improve the fur and coats of pets. Omega-three fatty acids and various antioxidants have become more important in fighting senior challenges, such as canine cognitive disorder.

Seafood for Pets

Fortunately, the majority of dogs and cats can agree on the overall palatability of fish, and since marine life is becoming more sustainable thanks to fish farms, the pet industry is focused on the ocean more than ever. In the January 2015 edition of “Petfood and Animal Nutrition 2.0,” Mars Petcare reinforced its “…commitment to sustainably source 100% of its fish and fish by-products by 2020.”

Other companies are quickly following suit.

Eclectic combinations of ingredients from the ocean can now be found in pet foods. “Duck, mango and wild ocean-caught tuna fish are hand packed in a hand-selected blend of unique proteins and superfoods to serve your cat the most healthy and palatable complete and balanced dinner,” said Chelsea Sher, co-founder of Against the Grain Pet Foods. “Our foods are dolphin-safe and turtle-safe, as well as GMO free, grain free and gluten free.”

“Our Boneless formulas are ‘destination products’ that serve pet parents who need to keep their pet’s food as simple as possible—in most cases a single type of protein,” said Bette Schubert, Bravo co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education.

“We use salmon muscle meat from the fish’s belly to provide a top quality, maximum nutrition option for both dogs and cats,” Schubert said. “The Boneless Salmon is rich in protein, which is great for the cats who are obligate carnivores. It also is great for the skins and coats of both dogs and cats. Beyond our Boneless products, the majority of our formulas are created to provide single-source proteins upon which pet parents can customize the formula to meet the specific nutritional needs of their companion animal.”

“Soft ‘n Tasty Salmon Recipe Baked Bites treats for dogs are made with selected ingredients from approved suppliers,” said Adrian Pettyan, Caru Pet Food CEO and co-founder. ”The salmon is USDA-inspected and is the number one ingredient; like the entire CARU Soft ‘n Tasty Treat line, these treats are a limited ingredient recipe with no wheat, corn, soy or animal by-products, added sugar, artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.”

Barkworthies recently launched its new Australian Gourmet line of treats for dogs, focused on minimal ingredient treats and chews. Their Salmon Skin Chews and Twists are all-natural and long lasting, designed to satisfy the needs of all types of dogs and cats.

Sea-Faring Supplements

It is not just food and treats that lead the seafood pack; the benefits of ocean-sourced supplements have been known for years. Fish and shellfish are primary sources of fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and are the best source of omega-threes. Mollusks have an iron content that rivals that of red meat. Not only are shellfish naturally low in fat and high in protein, but they also offer a plethora of minerals, including magnesium, copper, selenium and zinc.

Kelp is an extremely nutrient-rich, edible algae. Its ability to filter and accumulate nutrients makes it a valuable addition to a pet’s diet. According to David Grover, founder of Pet Kelp, it produces the highest nutrient content of any plant or algae, providing access to over 70 vitamins and minerals.

“While containing a large number of vitamins, kelp is best known for containing a full panel of trace minerals,” Grover said. “Minerals perform many key functions in animals, including regulating energy and aiding digestion, and are a vital ingredient in immune, skin, and bone systems.”

Animal Essentials created a line of Green Marine Pet Supplements sourced from organic ocean kelp that is wild-harvested at the edge of the Arctic Circle in northwest Iceland.

“We are making a stand in our industry to only use sustainably harvested and ethically processed ocean-sourced ingredients,” said Greg Tilford, president of Animal Essentials. “This is the right thing to do for the planet and it ensures the highest quality for our pets’ health, too. Our suppliers are as passionate about the environment and quality as we are.”

The benefits are not limited to senior pets. Lifeline Pet offers OCEAN KELP, which contains Laminaria digitata, an expensive kelp generally not included in kelp pet supplements. According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, Laminaria digitata “may have immunostimulatory and anti-cancer effects.” As an added benefit, this kelp promotes dental health by keeping oral bacteria from forming a biocoat that would develop into plaque.

Supplements do not only come from plant-like material. Fish and shellfish are valuable sources of vitamins A and D, and also can provide significant amounts of B12 and several minerals.

“One in five dogs in America suffers from some form of mobility issue,” said Mark Peltonen, managing director of RxMobility.

This equals out to about 16 million dogs.

“Those 16 million reasons motivated RxMobility to develop a 100 percent natural solution that addresses not only the source of the problem, but has wider ranging health benefits for every canine’s bone, muscle and joint functions,” Peltonen said.

The pet food industry is seeing a clear trend in specialty and alternative pet food ingredients. With every ingredient being a functional, nutrition-focused addition, the pet industry will continue to welcome novel ingredients and high-quality foods.

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