Puppy food preferences are maintained in adulthood
Keywords:development, dog, food, palatability, preference, small breed
AbstractBalanced diets that meet nutritional requirements for various life stages of animals are important to sustain health as dietary needs change with development. Dog owners want to offer a tasty and nutritionally balanced diet to their dogs. Dog food product developers strive to formulate such diets in a timely manner and that meet a dog’s specific nutritional requirements in various life stages. Palatability assessments during product development can be expensive and time-consuming when evaluating specially designed foods for multiple breed types, dog sizes, and ages of dogs. Assessments of puppy food by puppies is especially expensive because a narrow window for food trials exists before they reach adulthood. Moreover, it is not practical or ideal for palatability assessment centers to continually acquire puppies when the dogs can only test as puppies for a fraction of their lifetime. Thus, we evaluated if preference trials of diets formulated specifically for small breed puppies could be assessed by small breed adults and yield similar results. We ran seven paired preference trials over 14 days with twenty dogs at ages 5-8 months old (i.e., puppyhood) and again at 14-17 months old (i.e., adulthood). In six of seven trials, dogs were consistent in their preference as adults and as puppies. While it is not recommended that dog owners feed their adult dog puppy food on a regular basis, the results suggest that pet food developers do not need to have constant access to puppy panels to evaluate palatability of puppy foods. Rather, adult dog panels could be a quicker, more practical, and more economi- cal option to aid pet food developers in getting a product to market that puppies would likely enjoy.