Gut health or digestive performance is an important challenge in the pet food industry. Pet food producers are looking for solutions to produce food for dogs or cats that stimulates digestion, resulting in healthy animals and firm stools. It can be a challenge because digestion is influenced by many different aspects such as the presence of both beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in the gut, as well as the ingredients and additives used in the food. Seaweed is a feed ingredient that will prebiotically support digestion in the intestine, while delivering trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and even omega-3 fatty acids.
Red, brown and green
Seaweeds are macroalgae which can contain polysaccharides, specific proteins, antioxidants, omega-3s, and are also rich in important minerals. Those bioactive components contribute to improved digestive function and better nutrient use in animals. Our seaweed blends contain a mixture of red, brown and green seaweed species. Different species are chosen for the blends to target a variety of polysaccharides, minerals, proteins, fibers, etc. With a seaweed blend we can fulfil the requirements of each animal species regarding polysaccharides and minerals, and gain broad efficacy, as each seaweed within the blend brings its own distinct performance.
Mode of action - polysaccharides
Polysaccharides like alginates, fucoidan, laminarin and ulvan have a prebiotic effect. This means that the seaweed stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Some other bioactives present in seaweed have been shown to have a natural antibacterial effect and, by increasing the population of beneficial bacteria with prebiotics, there can be a competitive inhibition effect on the pathogenic bacteria. Besides those effects some seaweeds have been shown to support stimulation of the immune system and to support a positive effect on intestinal epithelium.
The polysaccharides support digestion. The protein, roughly 10% in the blend, contains bioactive small peptides, which are easily digested and absorbed. This results in an enhanced intestinal balance which was seen by a group of 50 customers testing the seaweed blend as a supplement to their existing dog food for 4 weeks. The following results were measured:
- 88% - reported improved digestive health. Ranges of outcome included reducing diarrhea, firming stools.
- 88% - reported improved coat or skin condition. Responses included softer or shinier coats, reduced flaking.
- 41% - reported improved energy or stamina, particularly during hot weather.
- 29% - reported better smelling breath. Likely due to reduced pathogenic bacteria in the gut as part of the prebiotic effect.