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Owner impressions of three premium diets fed to healthy adult dogs

Sherry L. SandersonDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Delmar R. FincoDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Asa D. PogrelisDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Lisa M. StacyDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Carrie F. UngerDepartment of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine owner impressions of 3 premium canine diets when factors such as price and retail source were removed; to compare body condition scores (BCSs) assigned by owners versus a veterinarian; and to determine consistency of owner impressions of diets when owners were not informed that they were feeding the same diet during 2 consecutive periods.

Design—Randomized controlled trial.

Animals—44 healthy adult dogs.

Procedure—During the initial 12 months of the study, dogs were each fed 3 premium diets for 4 months in random order. After feeding each diet for 1 and 4 months, owners completed questionnaires regarding palatability of the diet; the dog's attitude, energy level, fecal consistency, frequency of defecation, hair coat quality, and BCS; and whether they would feed the diet if available commercially. During the last 4 months of the study, owners fed the same diet they had been feeding during the previous 4 months.

Results—Scores for most variables did not differ among diets. However, mean BCS assigned by owners was significantly lower than mean BCS assigned by an investigator, with a moderate correlation between scores. When asked at the end of the third and fourth study periods whether they would consider feeding the diet long-term, 12 of the 44 (27%) owners gave inconsistent responses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicate that when unaware of retail price and source, owners have similar impressions of 3 premium diets fed to healthy adult dogs, suggesting that factors other than the diets themselves may affect owner impressions. Owners also underestimate their dog's BCS. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:1931–1936)

Abstract

Objective—To determine owner impressions of 3 premium canine diets when factors such as price and retail source were removed; to compare body condition scores (BCSs) assigned by owners versus a veterinarian; and to determine consistency of owner impressions of diets when owners were not informed that they were feeding the same diet during 2 consecutive periods.

Design—Randomized controlled trial.

Animals—44 healthy adult dogs.

Procedure—During the initial 12 months of the study, dogs were each fed 3 premium diets for 4 months in random order. After feeding each diet for 1 and 4 months, owners completed questionnaires regarding palatability of the diet; the dog's attitude, energy level, fecal consistency, frequency of defecation, hair coat quality, and BCS; and whether they would feed the diet if available commercially. During the last 4 months of the study, owners fed the same diet they had been feeding during the previous 4 months.

Results—Scores for most variables did not differ among diets. However, mean BCS assigned by owners was significantly lower than mean BCS assigned by an investigator, with a moderate correlation between scores. When asked at the end of the third and fourth study periods whether they would consider feeding the diet long-term, 12 of the 44 (27%) owners gave inconsistent responses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicate that when unaware of retail price and source, owners have similar impressions of 3 premium diets fed to healthy adult dogs, suggesting that factors other than the diets themselves may affect owner impressions. Owners also underestimate their dog's BCS. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:1931–1936)