Pet parents are looking to give their pets diets that provide healthier nutrients and are easy to digest. And gently cooked meals are proving to be an optimal solution, according to scientific evidence.
For some time already, pet food trends have mimicked human food trends. Now, slow-cooked pet food has been gaining popularity among health-conscious pet owners. Natural ingredients – and sometimes wholefoods – are cooked at a controlled low temperature to ensure nutrients are kept at their best.
Proven health benefits for pets
Slow, or gently, cooked pet food is widely believed to be beneficial for pets with a sensitive digestive system. And because recipes typically include certain protein sources, vegetables and fruit, slow-cooked usually equals a better diet.
Studies published in recent years support this view. In 2018, researchers at the University of Illinois put 8 dogs on different diets for 28 days. They found that lightly cooked and raw diets were ‘highly palatable, highly digestible, reduced blood triglycerides, maintained fecal quality and serum chemistry, and modified the fecal microbial community of healthy adult dogs’.
Compared to an extruded diet, these diets had ‘greater nutrient digestibility, resulted in reduced blood triglyceride concentrations, and shifted fecal microbiota populations and metabolite concentrations’, the study concluded.
Best ingredients for best pet health
Of the gently cooked pet food option, it appears that a wholefood diet might be healthier. A 2014 study suggests that dogs’ blood profiles improved after switching from a commercial kibble diet to a lightly cooked wholefood one.
For pets with a particularly sensitive digestive system, a 2020 study found that formulas with human-grade food have over 85% digestibility and can provide a high level of energy to pets. However, such gently cooked formulas should be stored, handled, processed and transported according to the same practices and guidelines for human food.
Although gently cooked pet food is manufactured at a too-low temperature to kill bacteria, it has not yet been subject to the level of criticism that raw food has.
Pet food manufacturers are confident in the further growth potential of gently cooked pet food, with some industry insiders describing the category as ‘extremely hot’.
In fact, numerous pet food companies have recently added gently cooked pet food to their product assortment. A case in point is Austin based The Conscious Pet which this year launched its first gently cooked dog food, containing upcycled human-grade ingredients.
Notably also, KatKin, a fresh cat food start-up from London, recently raised $22 million in a Series-A funding, to expand its manufacturing capacity, and boost its research and development and marketing activities.
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