A Dog’s Dinner: Factors affecting food choice and feeding practices for UK dog owners feeding raw meat-based or conventional cooked diets

Morgan, Genever, Williams, Nicola, Schmidt, Vanessa ORCID: 0000-0001-5460-6217, Cookson, Daisy, Symington, Carrie and Pinchbeck, Gina ORCID: 0000-0002-5671-8623
(2022) A Dog’s Dinner: Factors affecting food choice and feeding practices for UK dog owners feeding raw meat-based or conventional cooked diets. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 208. p. 105741.

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<h4>Introduction</h4>Food selection is an area of dog ownership where owners have direct control over their pet's wellbeing. While commercial cooked complete foods remain the majority component of many dog diets, there is increasing interest in alternative options including natural and raw ingredients. This study aimed to provide further data regarding feeding practices and diet choice for UK dog owners with a focus on raw meat diets.<h4>Methods</h4>An online survey available to all UK dog owners and advertised through sources including social media and at Crufts was conducted from February to March 2020. Feeding practices and diet choice were assessed, and owners were categorised as either feeding a raw meat diet (RMD) or non-raw diet (NRMD) based on their responses. Descriptive, univariable and multivariable data analyses were undertaken to determine dog and owner factors associated with feeding RMD, and thematic analysis was undertaken on free-text responses.<h4>Results</h4>A total of 1831 owners completed the survey (915 RMD, 916 NRMD) detailing information for 3212 dogs (1754 RMD, 1458 NRMD). Dog breed (German Shepherd), Border Collie, Crossbreed (p < 0.001), entire neuter status (p < 0.001) and younger age (p 0.022) were associated with RMD feeding. RMD-feeding owners were likely to own > 1 dog (p < 0.001). RMD-feeding owners were more likely to cite a 'more natural' diet as a reason for their diet choice, and less likely to cite 'advice from a veterinary professional' compared to those who fed NRMD (p < 0.001). They were more likely to seek dietary advice from social media, friends/family and breeders rather than a veterinary surgeon/nurse (p < 0.001). RMD-feeding owners perceived their diet choice to provide a wide range of health benefits, including for coat health, oral hygiene, general digestive system health, anal sac clearance, mobility, performance and behaviour, and perceived NRMD as a health risk for most of these health factors (p < 0.001). NRMD-feeding owners perceived RMD to be a risk for bone splinters and foreign bodies (p < 0.001). RMD-feeding owners did not perceive diet to be a risk to their dog, themselves or in-contact dogs or people. In contrast, NRMD-feeding owners perceived the opposite (p < 0.001).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Factors affecting dog food selection are multifactorial and complex, with owners who feed RMD and those who feed NRMD having differing views. Further research regarding benefits and risks of different diets is required, however it remains vital that communication regarding the public health risks of RMD is seen as credible to owners and disseminated in a way that reaches the desired audience.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dog, Raw, Kibble, Public health, Diet
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2022 10:15
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 20:46
DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2022.105741
Open Access URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3162933