A charge made against feeding dry foods to cats is that the high carbohydrate (i.e. starch) content results in high blood glucose levels which over time may have detrimental health effects. The present study determined the post-meal concentrations of plasma glucose and insulin in adult cats (seven males and four females) and dogs (Labrador retrievers; four males and five females) fed dry diets with low-starch (LS), moderate-starch (MS) or high-starch (HS) levels. In a cross-over design with at least 7 d between the test meals, plasma glucose and insulin concentrations were measured following a single meal of a LS, MS and HS diet (209 kJ/kg bodyweight). Only the HS diet resulted in significant post-meal increases in plasma glucose concentration in cats and dogs although the time-course profiles were different between the species. In cats, plasma glucose concentration was significantly increased above the pre-meal concentration from 11 h until 19 h after the meal, while in dogs, a significant increase above baseline was seen only at the 7 h time point. Plasma insulin was significantly elevated in dogs 4–8 h following the MS diet and 2–8 h after the HS diet. In cats, plasma insulin was significantly greater than baseline from 3–7 and 11–17 h after the HS diet. The time lag (approximately 11 h) between eating the HS diet and the subsequent prolonged elevation of plasma glucose concentration seen in cats may reflect metabolic adaptations that result in a slower digestive and absorptive capacity for complex carbohydrate.
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