Feeding patterns and dietary intake in Swedish dogs
Marie Sallander1, Åke Hedhammar2, Margareta Rundgren1 & Jan Eric Lindberg1
1Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden.
2Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden.
Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2010, 95, 281-287.
We used a validated mail and telephone questionnaire to investigate baseline data on feeding patterns and dietary intake in a random sample of 460 Swedish dogs. In 1999, purebred individuals 1–3 years old in the largest insurance database of Sweden completed the study.
Most dogs were fed restricted amounts twice a day, and the feeding patterns seldom were changed after the age of 6 months. Typically, the main constituent of the meals was dry food [representing 69% of dry matter (DM)]. Four out of five dogs also got foods that (in descending order of the amount of energy provided) consisted of vegetable oil, meat, sour milk, bread, potatoes, pasta, lard/tallow, sausage, cheese, rice and fish.
The heavier the dog (kg), the more dry dog food was consumed (g DM/d). The dry-food intakes (g DM/d) increased linearly with body weight (BW, in kg): intake = −15.3 + 8.33 BW (P = 0.0001; r = 0.998), a clear relationship that was not observed for other commercial foods.
The non-commercial part of the diet had higher fat (13 and 8 g/megajoule, MJ, respectively; P = 0.00001) and lower protein (12 and 16 g/MJ, respectively; P = 0.00001) compared to the commercial part of the diet. Six out of ten dogs were given treats, and one-fourth was given vitamin/mineral supplements (most commonly daily).
Most dogs consumed diets that were nutritionally balanced. No dogs in the study consumed diets that supplied lower amounts of protein than recommended by the NRC (2006). Only two individuals (<1%) were given total diets that were lower than the nutrient profiles in fat. Few dogs consumed total diets that were lower than recommended by the NRC (2006) in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D and E (2, 1, 3, 5, and 3% of the individuals, respectively). A few individuals consumed higher levels of vitamins A and D (<1 and 4%, respectively) than recommended.
Diets that deviated from recommended levels were those consisting of only table foods with no supplements (too-low in vitamins and minerals) or commercial foods + no table foods supplied with extra vitamin and mineral supplements (too-high in vitamins and minerals).