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)