Dogs prefer to eat fat…

Dogs gravitate toward high-fat food, but cats pounce on carbohydrates with even greater enthusiasm, according to research into the dietary habits of America’s two most popular pets.

Oregon research into diet

The study sheds new light on optimal nutrition for the animals and refutes a common notion that cats want and need a protein-heavy regimen.

The research, funded by The Pet Nutrition Center of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc, had its findings published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in May 2018.

“The numbers were much different than what traditional thinking would have expected,” said the study’s corresponding author, Jean Hall, a professor in the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. “Some experts have thought cats need diets that are 40 or 50 percent protein. Our findings are quite different than the numbers used in marketing and are going to really challenge the pet food industry.”

Dietary proteins contribute to a number of important physiological functions such as blood clotting, production of hormones and enzymes, vision and cell repair.

Protein also has the most power to make the eater feel satiated; carbohydrates are No. 2 in that regard, followed by fat.

Hall’s research involved monitoring 17 healthy adult dogs and 27 cats over 28 days and used four types of food that were designed to taste the same; with flavor out of the equation, the animals could make macronutrient choices based only on what their bodies were telling them they needed.

“Previous studies have shown that if you don’t balance palatability between foods, cats do in fact prefer to eat very high levels of protein and dogs want to eat a lot of fat,” Hall said. “When you balance palatability, both dogs and cats prefer significantly different macronutrient content than what they would choose based on taste.”

The animals studied by Hall and her collaborators had four food choices: high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high-protein and balanced foods. Each day, dogs had an hour to eat all they wanted up a predetermined caloric intake – that is, they could get all the calories they needed for metabolic requirements and to maintain weight, but no more.

The cats in the study were likewise not allowed to overeat, though even if given unlimited access to food that tastes how they like it, cats tend to eat in a weight-maintenance way by adjusting their intake based on the food’s energy density. In the study, cats had 24-hour food access to the point of hitting their caloric threshold.

Food container placement for both dogs and cats was changed daily to guard against “bowl position bias” affecting the results.

The researchers found the cats on average chose to get 43 percent of their calories from carbs and 30 percent from protein.

Dogs on the other hand went for 41 percent fat and 36 percent carbs.

Not a single dog or cat chose to get the highest percentage of its calories from protein.

Within the aggregate cat findings were trends correlating with age and lean body mass – how much muscle an animal has.

Younger cats with less lean body mass tended more strongly toward protein consumption than younger cats with more lean body mass; younger cats in general wanted protein more than older cats.

On the dog side of the study, high-protein foods were the least popular among younger animals with less fat body mass; dogs with greater fat body mass had the strongest preference for getting calories from protein.

“Because the choice of macronutrients was influenced in both dogs and cats by age and either lean body mass or fat body mass, that suggests a physiological basis for what they chose to eat,” Hall said.

The research also involved determining the diets’ effect on selected metabolites of each macronutrient class – what they break down into in the body. Hall found the older cats’ blood had much lower levels of DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that’s important for the brain, heart and eyes, than the younger cats.

“None of the foods had ingredient sources of DHA or EPA, another long-chain omega-3, but cats are able to synthesize DHA by elongating and desaturating fatty acids,” Hall said. “The older cats, though, are a lot less efficient at that.”

More potential bad news for the older cats: Their concentrations of sulfated microbial catabolic products – protein-breakdown leftovers that in humans are connected to cardiovascular and kidney disease – were significantly higher.

“Just like with older people, older cats may have a different gut microbiome than younger cats, which would mean different microbial metabolic activities,” Hall said.

Basically, if a younger cat gets more protein than it can use, it can safely deal with and dispose of the excess a lot better than an older cat can.

Source:   Oregon State University

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Greyt Fashions

So to my regular readers, I’m sorry it’s been almost a week since my last posting.  That’s because I’ve been busy.  Really busy.

On Sunday, the culmination of 2 years of thoughts/ideas and 7 months of planning came to fruition in the form of Greyt Fashions, a fundraiser for greyhound adoption to support Greyhounds as Pets. This is the charity that matched Izzy and me back in 2014.  I aim to support dog adoption each year through fundraising, but this year has certainly topped all my previous efforts with $4994 raised in a single event.

The idea behind the show was simple:  highlight that greyhounds need clothes and let our volunteer owners show off their hounds in the clothing they had chosen for them.

Alongside the show, we had a silent auction and prize raffle of donated goods and services.  I was humbled by the number of sponsors which came on board at the first request.

It was an awesome day, and one that passed quite quickly for me.  Thankfully, the folks at Parker Photography also donated their services and were able to document the day for us.  More photos are expected on my Facebook page later this week as the photographers process and edit their photos.

I feel it is very important that local businesses give back to their communities in a tangible way.  I am in a lucky position to be able to devote some of my time in support of worthy causes and I would rather spend my time on these efforts than traditional ‘marketing.’

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

YouTube videos help researchers study dog bites

dog-biting

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have turned to the popular video-sharing site YouTube to study the complex issue of dog bites.

Preventing dog bites is an increasingly important public health and political issue with implications for both human and animal health and welfare. However, it remains difficult for researchers to understand the circumstances leading up to dog bites, with most studies relying on evidence collected after bites happen, such as hospital records and victim interviews.

In a new study published in Scientific Reports researchers have, for the first time, used YouTube videos to directly observe and analyse dog bites in situ.

Lead author Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka said: “Online videos present us with an unexplored opportunity to observe dog bites first-hand, something which is just not possible using other methods. Making more use of this type of shared content for research could help us better understand how and why bites occur and contribute to the development of bite prevention strategies.”

Using search terms such as ‘dog bite’ and ‘dog attack’ the researchers sampled 143 videos that were uploaded to YouTube between January 2016 and March 2017. For each video the context of bites, bite severity, victim and dog characteristics were recorded. For 56 of these videos they were also able to analyse the details of human and dog behaviour leading up to the bite.

The researchers acknowledge that YouTube videos of dog bites are likely subject to some bias, with, for example, bites by small dogs perhaps perceived as ‘comical’ and therefore more likely to be uploaded online.

The findings reveal that despite this potential bias, the demographic characteristics of the victims and dogs seen in YouTube bite videos, such as breed type and victims’ sex and age, are consistent with those found in previous studies. Common dog breeds observed included Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Pit bulls and Labrador Retrievers. Around 7 in 10 of the bite victims in the videos were male, while more than half of bites observed were to children and infants.

Although this small study did not allow an exploration of the causal relationship between human behaviour and dog bites, some behaviours that have been previously observed within the context of dog bites were observed here to precede a bite. For example, the researchers observed that tactile contact with a dog increased approximately 20 seconds before a bite, as did standing or leaning over a dog.

Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka added: “These findings could offer some valuable new insight for the development of bite prevention strategies. Prevention messages could emphasise the risk of leaning over a dog and simply advise avoiding contact with a dog when possible or in doubt.”

Future research plans to better understand people’s behaviour around dogs and their perceptions of dog bites include a series of interviews with dog owners, people who work around dogs and bite recipients.

The paper ‘Online videos indicate human and dog behaviour preceding dog bites and the context in which bites occur’ is published in Scientific Reports [doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25671-7]

Source:  University of Liverpool media release

Therapy dogs as an employment benefit

Trained dogs can be employed in so many ways that help humans and here’s another one:  stress therapy in the office.

Pet Partners based in Washington began sending trained dogs into the office setting two years ago as part of a workplace wellbeing program.

Well-known employers like Intel and Aetna have employed the services of the dogs.

A dog being petted by an Aetna employee

A dog receiving attention by an Aetna employee, photo by Alexandra Gunnoe

Instead of allowing dogs in the office full-time (which I obviously prefer), these programs are a novelty that also manages other issues such as employees who have dog allergies or who are extremely fearful of dogs.

In settings where people have very demanding jobs, and expectations of long working hours, a visit by a well-behaved dog must certainly be a welcome relief!

Source:  MarketWatch

Doggy quote of the month for July

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human.  The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”

– Edward Hoagland, author

Dog with Strawberry photo

 

You get out what you put in

In 2007, I was unlucky enough to rupture an Achilles tendon; the rupture also took the rather unusual form of detaching from the bone in the heel of my foot.  In most cases, these ruptures occur higher up the leg, with the tendon snapping in half.  I clearly remember my surgeon at the time warning me of the risk of re-rupture, which was entirely linked to the quality and commitment to rehabilitation.  Many people don’t commit to the time and consistency that rehab actually takes and they pay the price of exercising too strenuously too early, or not following the instructions for self-care.

Every rehab program can have setbacks and mine was no different.  It took a year but I fully recovered.  I went to physio for all the obligatory ultrasounds, etc.  But more importantly, I did my exercises at home.  All the toe raises, stretches, massaging and walking.   I kept a journal of everything.

This personal experience has helped me greatly in my dog massage and rehab practice; it’s given me great insight into the frustrations and joys of rehab.  And the main lesson I learned was that the substantive part of my rehab program was my responsibility.

The same is true of a dog’s rehab program – well, sort of.  The dog doesn’t know what it has to do, it’s the owner’s responsibility.

And that’s one reason why I practice on an in-home basis.  I see many dogs in need of strengthening, stretching and/or toning exercises.  I always aim to make these exercises simple, and using items that are easily found around the home or sourced for a reasonable price.  (I also have a hire pool of equipment, to also ease the burden of rehab care.)

Adjustments are often needed to match the dog’s abilities.  And that comes with practice and feedback from the owner.  And we work together through any setbacks.

I tell my clients:  “To a large extent, you get out what you put in.”

Rail walking at CBBR

Cavaletti rail practice at Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue (Charlene with Caesar)

Many clients have goals – it could be that the family is going on vacation and wants the dog in better shape (or fully recovered) when the dog goes to kennel or to another family member.  It could be that the dog is in the care of a re-homing agency and the dog needs to be better before adoption.  Or, the goal may simply to have the dog better before summer so that the family can enjoy the beach or the park again, together.

Like personal training, goals are great.

To achieve them, we get out what we put in.  I enjoy being part of the owner’s team to achieve those goals.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dogs understand what’s written all over your face

Dogs can understand

Dogs can understand emotional expressions of humans. Credit: © ZoomTeam / Fotolia

Dogs are capable of understanding the emotions behind an expression on a human face. For example, if a dog turns its head to the left, it could be picking up that someone is angry, fearful or happy. If there is a look of surprise on a person’s face, dogs tend to turn their head to the right. The heart rates of dogs also go up when they see someone who is having a bad day, say Marcello Siniscalchi, Serenella d’Ingeo and Angelo Quaranta of the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy.

The study in Springer’s journal Learning & Behavior is the latest to reveal just how connected dogs are with people. The research also provides evidence that dogs use different parts of their brains to process human emotions.

By living in close contact with humans, dogs have developed specific skills that enable them to interact and communicate efficiently with people. Recent studies have shown that the canine brain can pick up on emotional cues contained in a person’s voice, body odour and posture, and read their faces.

In this study, the authors watched what happened when they presented photographs of the same two adults’ faces (a man and a woman) to 26 feeding dogs. The images were placed strategically to the sides of the animals’ line of sight and the photos showed a human face expressing one of the six basic human emotions: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust or being neutral.

The dogs showed greater response and cardiac activity when shown photographs that expressed arousing emotional states such as anger, fear and happiness. They also took longer to resume feeding after seeing these images. The dogs’ increased heart rate indicated that in these cases they experienced higher levels of stress.

In addition, dogs tended to turn their heads to the left when they saw human faces expressing anger, fear or happiness. The reverse happened when the faces looked surprised, possibly because dogs view it as a non-threatening, relaxed expression. These findings therefore support the existence of an asymmetrical emotional modulation of dogs’ brains to process basic human emotions.

“Clearly arousing, negative emotions seem to be processed by the right hemisphere of a dog’s brain, and more positive emotions by the left side,” says Siniscalchi.

The results support that of other studies done on dogs and other mammals. These show that the right side of the brain plays a more important part in regulating the sympathetic outflow to the heart. This is a fundamental organ for the control of the ‘fight or flight’ behavioural response necessary for survival.

Source:  Springer.com