dog tempted by treat University of Illinois

Choosing dog’s food: Who leads the pack?

Survey results to help develop educational materials for owners about dogs' nutritional needs and well-being.

Dog owners want the best for their companions, but not much is known about what drives owners' decisions about their pets' diet or lifestyle.

A team of University of Illinois animal scientists wants to learn more about the behaviors dog owners associate with their dogs in terms of nutritional needs, food enjoyment and lifestyle, and they are looking for help.

“We want to know what are the beliefs and knowledge that pet owners have in terms of their lifestyle and dietary choices and how they relate that to their pets,” said Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor in companion animal and comparative nutrition in the department of animal sciences at the University of Illinois.

“Pet foods have really diversified in recent years, but we still don’t know the market factors and feeding strategies driving that diversification," she said. "We know it stems from the humanization of pets and the closer animal/human bond that we have developed with dogs and cats for the last several decades. However, very little is known about whether dog owners base their decisions on personal beliefs, professional advice or empirical evidence.”

Godoy and graduate student Juliana Nogueira are asking dog owners to complete a survey about their own lifestyle and nutrition as well as their dog's. It takes about 10 minutes to complete and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The researchers think they may use the survey results to develop educational materials for owners about their dog’s nutritional needs and well-being. Published results from the research questionnaire may also assist the pet food industry in developing products tailored to owners’ habits and preferences, as well as dogs’ nutritional needs.

The survey is available at the following links:

English version: http://go.illinois.edu/choosingyourdogsfood_english

Spanish version: http://go.illinois.edu/choosingyourdogsfood_spanish

Portuguese version: http://go.illinois.edu/choosingyourdogsfood_portuguese

French version: http://go.illinois.edu/choosingyourdogsfood_french

The researchers are hoping to receive at least 3,000 responses, so they are encouraging participants to share the survey with friends and social networks.

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