An international team of researchers has shed new light on the natural feeding behaviour of domestic dogs and demonstrated that they will naturally seek a daily dietary intake that is high in fat. The study also showed that some dogs will overeat if given excess food, reinforcing the importance of responsible feeding to help ensure dogs maintain a healthy body weight.
The research was conducted by the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition - the science centre underpinning Mars Petcare brands such as PEDIGREE®, NUTRO® and ROYAL CANIN. It was undertaken in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sydney (Australia) and the Institute of Natural Sciences at Massey University (New Zealand).
The research involved adult dogs representing five diverse breeds: the papillon, miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniel, Labrador retriever and St. Bernard. In a series of dietary studies, the dogs were offered combinations of wet or dry foods with varying levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate. The dietary nutrient balance selected by the different breeds was then assessed and compared.
The results showed that, when given the choice, dogs consistently regulated their macronutrient intake, i.e. their intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate. Specifically, the dogs selected a macronutrient profile equating to approximately 63% of their daily calorie intake from fat, 30% from protein and 7% from carbohydrate. The findings also showed that some dogs consumed more than twice as many calories as required when offered excess food.
"The finding that domestic dogs will naturally seek a dietary intake that is high in fat and that they will readily overeat if given the opportunity probably reflects the feeding behaviour of their wild ancestors," said lead study author, Adrian Hewson-Hughes from the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition. "In the wild, dogs and wolves often have irregular access to food and competition is fierce - leading them to try and maximise their calorie intake whenever possible."
"However, domestic dogs today have regular access to food and many lead relatively inactive lifestyles compared with their wild ancestors," added Dr. Hewson-Hughes. "By demonstrating that dogs will overeat when offered excess food, this research also reinforces the importance of responsible feeding measures, such as portion control, for helping ensure dogs maintain a healthy body weight."
WALTHAM® is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of companion animals. This research forms part of a wider programme of ongoing collaborative research into the impact of health and nutrition on body weight in dogs and cats.
The research has been published in Behavioral Ecology and is available for free online: http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/ars168? ijkey=2X0IzIPeZ9R8AAk&keytype=ref
About the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
The WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of scientific research into the nutrition and health of companion animals for nearly 50 years. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute focuses on the nutritional and behavioural needs of companion animals and their benefits to humans, enabling the development of innovative products which meet these needs in a practical way. WALTHAM® has pioneered many important breakthroughs in pet nutrition, and in collaboration with the world's foremost scientific institutes, supports leading Mars brands such as WHISKAS®, PEDIGREE®, NUTRO®, TRILL®, CESAR®, SHEBA®, KITEKAT®, AQUARIAN®, WINERGY® and the ROYAL CANIN brand.
For more information, please visit www.waltham.com.
About Mars, Incorporated
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars' roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a "mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders" - this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $30 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 70,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
Mars brands include: Petcare - PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, KITEKAT®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and NUTRO®; Chocolate - M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley - DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food - UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks - ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience - COCOAVIA®, WISDOM PANEL™ and SERAMIS®.
For more information, please visit www.mars.com.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Abigail Stevenson, Head of Value Transfer, WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
Tel: +44 1664 415 400 Email: Abigail.Stevenson@effem.com