Panel discussion: Fresh/human-grade pet food research and executive roundtable: Why digestibility, the microbiome and other factors differ

Fresh and human-grade pet food, and similar formats and formulations, keep gaining in sales and popularity with pet owners, with more companies continuing to enter the category. This growth has spurred new research on nutritional aspects of such pet foods, showing that digestibility, microbial populations, nutrient:calorie ratios, energy estimates and other factors differ; they are not better or worse, just different. This has implications for ingredient sourcing, testing, feeding guidelines and other issues related to product development. Leading researchers will present highlights of their latest studies, then be joined by executives of fresh pet food companies for discussion and Q&A. Topics and experts include:

  • Recent data on fresh and human-grade diets related to nutrient digestibility, fecal output and the microbiome — Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., professor of animal nutrition, University of Illinois
  • Pet food categorization: not all calories are the same — Donna Raditic, DVM, CVA, DACVN, Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Consultants
  • Implications of accurate energy estimates/feeding guidelines with veterinarians, pet owners in mind — Martha Cline, DVM, DACVN, Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals
  • Executives joining the panel discussion include Gerardo Perez-Camargo, DVM, PhD., Freshpet; Dan Su, DVM, DACVN, JustFoodforDog; and Caitlyn Getty, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, Nom Nom

Panel members include:

Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Donna Raditic, DVM, DACVN, Consultant, Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Consultants

Martha Cline, DVM, DACVN, Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist, Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals

Panelist bios:

Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., is the Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has established an internationally recognized research program that uses genomic biology to study nutritional effects on host health and the microbiome, with primary emphasis on gastrointestinal health and obesity in dogs and cats. His laboratory has garnered approximately $18 million in research funding and has published over 205 peer-reviewed journal articles. Swanson has given over 135 invited lectures at scientific and professional meetings and received 15 research and teaching awards. He teaches 2-3 nutrition courses each year and has trained over 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, hosted 15 international visiting scholars, and mentored over 30 undergraduate research projects. He serves on advisory boards for many companies in the human and pet food industries as well as non-profit organizations, including the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences and the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.

Donna Raditic, DVM, DACVN, is a graduate of Cornell University College of Agriculture Animal Sciences, Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. She was a professor for both the nutrition and the integrative medicine services at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently, she is a member of East Coast Think Tank established by Veterinary Nutritional Consultations Inc., which offers independent information and consulting about companion animal nutrition and pet supplements. With a career that includes being a general practitioner, veterinary nutritionist, academician and consultant, she offers unique perspectives on the role of nutrition, supplements and integrative veterinary care for companion animals.

Martha Cline, DVM, DACVN, is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a small animal rotating internship at Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, New Jersey, and then returned to the University of Tennessee for a small animal clinical nutrition residency. She is board certified with the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. In 2013, she joined the staff at Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals in New Jersey where she currently practices small animal clinical nutrition full time. Cline is also a member of the Specialty Advisory Board for Compassion First Pet Hospitals and is the current president of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition (AAVN). Cline has also authored and co-authored several book chapters and peer-reviewed articles in veterinary nutrition.