Currently most dogs are fed highly processed food that is quite different from canine ancestral diets. Sweeteners are quite often included in processed dog food to mask unpleasant taste or enhance the acceptance of the food.
In the recent years, due to health issues, numerous low-calorie sugar free sweeteners have been developed to replace sucrose. Table 1 shows relative sweetness, acceptable daily intake (ADI) of some of some sweeteners.
It is noteworthy that xylitol will result in fatal reduction in blood glucose levels and the liver failure has been reported in dogs.
Stevia is a sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant. it is about 250 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. However, some people complain it is bitter.
Neohesperidine Dihydrochalcone (NHDC) is a sensory sweetener derived from the hydrogenation of Neohesperidine, a flavanone which is found in the immature fruit of bitter oranges. It is about 1000-1800 times as sweet as sucrose. However, commercially available Sugarex containing 10% NHDC is about 150 times as sweet as sucrose and its recommended dosage rates in dog dry food is 50-150 g/MT.
More importantly, all those alternative sweeteners are not effective substrates for plaque bacteria and therefore less likely result in dental caries. However, it is noticed that approximately 50-88% dogs over three years of age have periodontal disease and adding 0.6% sodium hexametaphosphate significantly reduced the area covered by dental calculus. In cats, it is reported that adding 1.2% lactic acid in a maintenance food significantly inhibited oral substrate accumulation.
Adding NHDC to weaning piglets, calf and fish diets also significantly increase the feed intake of young animals.
Report by Redox Animal Nutritionists