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CAN 2017 Hero
The Nexus of Pet and Human Nutrition: Focus on Cognition and Microbiome
The themes of cognition and the microbiome were discussed during the 2017 Companion Animal Nutrition (CAN) Summit.

World-leading experts in pet and human health and nutrition presented cutting-edge research findings and detailed overviews. As we learn more about the cognitive capabilities of dogs and cats, as well as the cognitive changes that occur with age, pets’ cognitive health has become more important.

Microbiome research, powered by advances in technology, is still in its relative infancy but promises powerful outcomes as we continually discover more about the impacts of the microbiome on an ever-growing list of organ and body functions.

Within these two themes, pet and human research were presented in parallel and included the following topics: hydration in children as well as dogs and cats; sarcopenia in the elderly as well as senior pets; microflora in infants and kittens.


Key Veterinary Learnings From CAN 2017

Nutrition and metabolism in dogs

  • Oral formulations of cobalamin are equally efficacious as injectable formulations at increasing serum cobalamin concentrations in dogs with cobalamin deficiencies.
  • Despite being the same species, small dogs have differences in metabolic demands, digestion, and in their gut microbiota than large dogs.

Management and detection of sarcopenia and cachexia in dogs and cats

  • Sarcopenia (loss of lean body mass associated with aging) and cachexia (loss of lean body mass associated with disease) can occur concurrently in our pets.
  • Sarcopenia is most commonly observed in the epaxial muscles, hindquarters, and in the shoulders.
  • Dogs and cats with sarcopenia often have increased fat tissue and may present with no changes (or even increases) in total body weight, underscoring the importance of assessing their muscle mass instead of relying on changes in body weight to detect problems.
  • The loss of lean body mass reduces strength, immune function and survival.
  • The key to optimal management of sarcopenia and cachexia is early detection and diagnosis. Regular muscle condition scoring is easy to perform, requires no specialized tools or equipment, and can be performed even on obese pets to provide baseline and subsequent assessments to detect and monitor changes in a pet’s muscle status.
  • Increasing dietary protein and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) may slow the progression of sarcopenia and cachexia in our pets.

Microbiota play a role in both health and disease in our pets

  • The gut microbiota could potentially be targeted to prevent or manage veterinary neurological diseases.
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance) of the gut microbiota causes metabolic abnormalities and is linked to the development and exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in dogs, providing opportunities to more successfully treat IBS by combining medical and nutritional (probiotic) approaches.
  • Metabolomics will play an increasingly important role in personalizing nutritional plans for our pets in the future, possibly allowing customized nutrition based on an individual pet’s health and metabolic status.
  • The oral cavity harbours a complex microbiome that is important for maintaining optimal oral health in humans and animals, and imbalance may lead to increased disease risk.
  • During the pre-weaning period, the oral microbiome of kittens significantly changes; nutritional intervention during this period could help shape the development of the oral microbiome for better oral health throughout life.

The potential use of probiotics in managing pet and human disease

  • Enterococcus faecium strain SF68 (E. faecium SF68), a probiotic, reduces viral shedding in cats with chronic feline herpesvirus (FHV-1) and lowers the rates of diarrhea episodes in sheltered cats.

CAN 2017 Highlights

Brain Development and Cognition

Nutrition, the Brain and Epigenomics: A Lifelong Approach to Optimal Cognition

Margaret Joy Dauncey
University of Cambridge

Nutrition and the Growing, Developing Brain

Maureen M. Black
University of Maryland

Water Intake, Hydration, and Cognitive Performance in Children

Gertrude Gentile-Rapinett
Nestlé Research Centre Lausanne

Water Needs and Hydration for Cats and Dogs

Brian M. Zanghi
Nestlé Research Centre St. Louis

Personalized, Special Needs Nutrition

Mechanisms of Sarcopenia and Regenerative Decline During Aging of Skeletal Muscle

Jerome N. Feige
Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences

Age-Related Muscle Loss: Sarcopenia and Cachexia

Lisa M. Freeman
Tufts University

Small Dog Metabolism and Other Unique Characteristics

Rondo P. Middleton, PhD
Nestlé Research Center St. Louis

Oral Cobalamin Supplementation in Dogs with Chronic Enteropathy

Linda Toresson, DVM
Helsinki University


Feeding Gut Microbes for a Healthy Brain

Francesca S. Gazzaniga
Harvard Medical School and Harvard University

Development of Oral Microbiome in Kittens

Julie K. Spears
Nestlé Research Center, St. Louis

Microbiota, Enteroendocrine Cells and Weight Loss in Cats

Chen Gilor
University of California at Davis

Evidence for Immune Modulation Induced by a Probiotic

Michael Lappin
Colorado State University

Metabolic Consequences of Gut Dysbiosis in Dogs with IBD

Jan S. Suchodolski
MedVet, DrMedVet, PhD, DACVM, AGAF
Texas A&M University

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