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J Anim Sci. 2015 Mar;93(3):823-34. doi: 10.2527/jas.2014-8520.

COMPANION ANIMALS SYMPOSIUM: Future aspects and perceptions of companion animal nutrition and sustainability.

Abstract

Companion animals play an important role in our lives and are now considered to be and treated as family members in a majority of households in the United States. Because of the high number of pets that now exist, an increasingly stronger pet-human bond, and the importance placed on health and longevity, the pet food industry has realized steady growth over the last few decades. Despite past successes and opportunities that exist in the future, there are also challenges that must be considered. This review will present a brief overview of the current pet food industry and address some of the key issues moving forward. In regards to companion animal research, recent advances and future needs in the areas of canine and feline metabolism, aging, clinical disease, and the gut microbiome using molecular and high-throughput assays; chemical, in vitro, and in vivo testing of feed ingredients; and innovative pet food processing methods is discussed. Training the future workforce for the pet food industry is also of great importance. Recent trends on student demographics and their species and careers of interest, changing animal science department curricula, and technology's impact on instruction are provided. Finally, the sustainability of the pet food industry is discussed. Focus was primarily placed on the disconnect that exists between opinions and trends of consumers and the nutrient recommendations for dogs and cats, the desire for increasing use of animal-based and human-grade products, the overfeeding of pets and the pet obesity crisis, and the issues that involve the evaluation of primary vs. secondary products in terms of sustainability. Moving forward, the pet food industry will need to anticipate and address challenges that arise, especially those pertaining to consumer expectations, the regulatory environment, and sustainability. Given the already strong and increasingly dynamic market for pet foods and supplies, an academic environment primed to supply a skilled workforce, and continued industry support for basic and applied research initiatives, the future of the pet food industry looks very bright.

PMID:
26020861
DOI:
10.2527/jas.2014-8520
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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