Application of Food Attractant in Dog Food

Application of Food Attractant in Dog Food

Current Types of Canine Foods

Currently available dog foods can be categorized into five types: dry products, semi-moist products, soft products, canned products, and snacks (or treats).

Dry Products

These are typically made from processed grains, grain by-products, soy products, animal products, dairy products, fats, salt, and minerals. They have a balanced nutritional profile and low moisture content (8% to 10%). Dry products are often expanded (puffed) and don’t require refrigeration, with a long shelf life. Providing sufficient water when feeding is important.

Semi-Moist Products

Building on dry products, these include meat or meat slurry by-products. Preservatives are often added to extend shelf life. They have higher moisture content and are sealed in packaging, not needing refrigeration.

Soft Products

Similar to semi-moist products, these contain meat or meat by-products, with significantly higher fat content compared to dry products. They have a moisture content of 27% to 32% and are more prone to deformation.

Canned Products

Canned dog food comes in two types: complete and incomplete. They generally contain 70% moisture, are nutritionally complete, and have good palatability.


Pet treats are provided to dogs between meals or during travel. They are not meant to replace main meals and are often shaped like bones or other forms.

Importance of Adding Palatants in Dog Food

With the growth of the Chinese economy, the pet industry has rapidly developed. Pet ownership has evolved from mere companionship to a form of emotional attachment. Pets, especially dogs, play an irreplaceable role in promoting social harmony. Due to their diverse breeds and loyalty to owners, canine foods have become a focal point of concern for pet owners.

During the processing and storage of dog foods, factors like processing techniques and storage conditions can diminish palatability. Additionally, some food ingredients themselves pose palatability issues. For instance, compounds causing off-flavors in soy or agglutinins in legumes can negatively impact palatability. Dogs can experience reduced appetite and consumption during stress or illness. Therefore, adding palatants to dog food becomes essential.

Types of Palatants in Dog Food

Currently, in the Chinese pet food market, dog palatants come in two forms: powder and paste.

Powder Palatants

Typically derived from animal fats (butter, lard, chicken fat) or vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil), these are processed through saponification, enzymatic hydrolysis, or addition of free fatty acids. They are then combined with proteins, sugars, water, solidifiers, creating an emulsion that is spray-dried to form powder palatants. These are often used for surface coating.

Paste Palatants

Meat mince (chicken, beef) is enzymatically hydrolyzed and subjected to Maillard reaction to create meat-flavored pastes. These pastes, along with fats, are sprayed onto pet food after granulation and drying. They mask unwanted odors, improve palatability, and increase consumption. Paste palatants come in flavors like chicken, beef, and liver, catering to dogs’ preference for meat and organ flavors.

dog eating on white bowl

Advantages of Adding Palatants to Dog Food

Improved Palatability and Appetite

Pet food palatability depends on color, aroma, and taste. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and adding palatants stimulates their olfactory system, encouraging digestion and secretion of digestive fluids, thus enhancing appetite.

Odor Masking and Enhanced Palatability

Dogs are sensitive to odors. Palatants can mask undesirable smells in pet food ingredients, boosting overall palatability.

Increased Digestibility

Palatants trigger reflexes in dogs’ sensory systems, leading to increased salivation, stomach acid, and digestive enzyme secretion. This improves digestion and nutrient absorption.

Promotion of Growth

Adding palatants has been shown to promote animal growth and weight gain. While less relevant for pets like dogs, this effect is significant in livestock.

Considerations for Using Palatants in Dog Food

Timing of Addition

Adding palatants at appropriate stages is crucial. For dry products, it’s best to add during granulation, maintaining both base and surface aromas.

Proper Usage

Palatants shouldn’t be overused, as dogs can experience flavor fatigue and decreased interest in food. Mixing palatants thoroughly during application is vital.
Food attractants are substances added to pet foods to enhance the palatability and appeal of the food to animals, especially dogs. These attractants are designed to stimulate the animal’s senses and encourage them to eat the food.

Here are some common applications of food attractants in dog food:

Flavor Enhancement

Food attractants are often used to enhance the flavor of dog food. Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, and the addition of natural or artificial flavors can make the food more enticing. Common flavor enhancers include meat, poultry, fish, and vegetable extracts.


Dogs are attracted to strong, meaty aromas. Food attractants can be selected based on their strong and pleasant smell to entice dogs to eat. A strong aroma can make the food more appealing, especially for dogs that may be finicky eaters.

Texture and Consistency

The texture of the food can influence a dog’s willingness to eat. Some dogs prefer certain textures over others. Food attractants can be used to improve the texture and mouthfeel of the food, making it more enjoyable for the dog to consume.

Natural Ingredients

Many food attractants are derived from natural sources such as real meat, poultry, and fish. Using real ingredients that dogs naturally crave can increase the overall appeal of the food.

Nutritional Coating

Food attractants can be applied as a nutritional coating on the surface of kibble or treats. This coating can provide an extra burst of flavor and aroma that is released when the dog bites into the food.

Training Treats

Food attractants are commonly used in training treats to encourage dogs to learn new commands and behaviors. The enticing smell and taste of the treats can motivate dogs to perform tasks correctly.

Picky Eaters

For dogs that are picky eaters or have a decreased appetite due to illness, adding food attractants can help stimulate their interest in eating and ensure they receive the necessary nutrients.

Transitioning Diets

When switching a dog’s diet, especially from one brand or type of food to another, using food attractants can aid in the transition by making the new food more appealing.

Senior Dogs

Older dogs may experience a decline in their senses of taste and smell. Food attractants can be used to compensate for these changes and encourage them to continue eating.

Medication Administration

In some cases, medication needs to be administered to dogs in the form of treats or added to their food. Food attractants can be used to mask the taste of medications and make them more palatable for the dog.

ash gray dog eating on metal bowl

Future Trends in Dog Palatants

China’s pet food market has grown rapidly in recent years, emphasizing animal palatability and nutritional safety over-commercialization. As pet ownership continues to rise, the prospects for the dog food industry are promising, aligning with the larger trends in the pet industry.