Heads up: A report from the AAVN Clinical Nutrition & Research Symposium

The American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition (AAVN) held this year’s annual symposium on June 3 in Phoenix, Arizona. The AAVN’s objectives include sharing information relating to animal nutrition, promoting interest and research in animal nutrition, and creating relationships between veterinary professionals and other individuals in the field of animal nutrition. The symposium is a culmination of those objectives and includes a mix of research abstract presentations—published annually in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition—and guest speakers. This year we welcomed nine oral abstract presentations, 16 poster presentations and four guest speakers.

Lentils, DCM and taurine

Research is starting to emerge investigating the potential link between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign investigated the relationship between a high inclusion of pulses (the dried seeds of legumes) and taurine status in dogs.1In a controlled environment, dogs were assigned to one of two diets: one containing approximately 45% green lentils and one with a primary protein source of poultry byproduct meal. Over 90 days, no significant differences were found in taurine or amino acid concentrations such as plasma methionine between the two diets. These results suggest that inclusion of about 45% green lentils in a dog’s diet does not affect circulating taurine concentrations.

How storage affects microbiome

The winner of the annual AAVN & Waltham Student Research Award, Ching-Yen Lin from the University of Illinois, demonstrated the importance of collection and storage methods when it comes to canine microbiome research.2 Canine fecal samples were collected and stored under different conditions using a novel microbiome stabilization method or unstabilized at room temperature. Changes in diversity and abundance of dominant bacterial phyla and genera were documented between stabilized and unstabilized samples, suggesting that the storage method is important to maintain data integrity. This study is significant given the abundance of groups investigating the microbiome in veterinary medicine.

Nutrients in home-prepared diets

Home-prepared diets for pets are becoming increasingly popular not only in the United States but in many other countries as well. Investigators from the University of São Paulo in Brazil evaluated home-prepared diets whose recipes for healthy dogs and cats were published online in Portuguese.3Seventy-five canine and 25 feline diets were selected for nutrient evaluation. None of the diets met 2018 nutritional guidelines established by the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF), with the majority having three or more nutrient deficiencies. Although no diets supplied all recommended nutrients, those with more ingredients did have an improved nutritional profile. This research further emphasizes that pet owners interested in preparing food at home for their pets should consult with veterinary professionals specifically trained with credentials to balance home-prepared diets.