Study Reveals Insect-Based Diet Improves Canine Oral Health, Reduces Bad Breath

By Pet Age Staff//March 6, 2024//

Study Reveals Insect-Based Diet Improves Canine Oral Health, Reduces Bad Breath

By: Pet Age Staff//March 6, 2024//

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A recent study published in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed into the impact of insect ingredients in dog food has reported positive effects on dental health. Volatile sulfur compound (VSC)-producing bacteria in the dental plaque were reduced and beneficial bacteria such as Moraxella were increased in saliva microbiota. The study, conducted with a diet based on the black soldier fly (BSF), shows a drop in the dreaded bad breath that afflicts many of our canine companions. The results open up exciting opportunities for pet food manufacturers to develop new applications, from treats and kibble to wet food, that capitalize on the positive oral health message.

Researchers at the Federal University of Paraiba (UFBP) in Brazil reported a 7 percent reduction in the bacteria that cause VSC and trigger bad breath. This outcome is particularly notable since VSC-producing bacteria would generally be expected to increase with the consumption of regular food with no dental prophylaxis. In addition, based on a metagenomic analysis, the black soldier fly diet seems to modulate saliva microbiota. The abundance of Moraxella in saliva was increased. The Moraxella group of bacteria is considered a marker of oral health and beneficial for the oral microbiome.

In addition, a panel of blind subjects was asked to evaluate the breath of eight beagle dogs after a period of 50 days being fed with the black solder fly diet or a poultry by-product diet. Based on an organoleptic intensity scale, the dogs fed the black soldier fly diet had a “barely noticeable odor,” scoring a one. This was compared with the two that was scored for “slight but noticeable odor” for the dogs fed with poultry by-product meal. The study concludes that a diet based on the black soldier fly has the potential to increase dental and gum health and improve doggie bad breath.

Periodontal disease is the biggest and most common health problem in dogs, affecting around 80 percent of animals over three years of age[i], and it’s often first identified through less-than-fragrant breath. Halitosis is the result of proteolytic activity in the mouth, where bacteria degrade food proteins, amino acids, mucins, oral fluids and cells, generating volatile sulfur compounds which are responsible for aggravating periodontal disease and causing a bad odor in the mouth. Not only is halitosis a marker of possible tooth and gum disease, foul-smelling breath is also a huge turn-off for even the most dedicated dog owners.

Sponsored by leading innovators in insect ingredients Protix, the study involved eight female beagle dogs in a cross-over design with half of the animals fed for 50 days either a diet of extruded dry kibble containing poultry by-product meal or a comparable kibble diet containing ProteinX, a protein meal that is produced from the larvae of the black soldier fly. The dogs were subsequently fed for a further 50 days with the opposite diet. The results were then compared. The inclusion level of ProteinX in the diet was 29.4 percent.

The study shows that ProteinX opens up new opportunities for pet food manufacturers to expand their claims across a number of products, including dog treats and dry and wet food. Pet food products incorporating insect ingredients for oral health have already been successfully brought to the market. ProteinX combines palatability with good digestibility, is hypoallergenic and also more sustainable in terms of land and water use plus CO2 emissions compared with common alternatives. Thanks to its attractive balance of essential amino acids, fatty acids and minerals, it is ideally suited for healthy and sustainable pet food.

“We know that scientific facts are important to our customers and end-consumers in making decisions about their pets’ diets,” said Bruna Loureiro, product development manager at Protix. “We are committed to working with leading partners to establish a body of factual evidence to allow pet parents to make informed decisions.”

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[1] OLSÉN, L.; BRISSMAN, A.; WIMAN, S.; ERIKSSON, F.; KAJ, C.; BRUNIUS ENLUND, K. Improved oral health and adaptation to treatment in dogs using manual or ultrasonic toothbrush or textile of nylon or microfiber for active dental home care. Animals, v. 11, n. 9, p. 2481, 2021