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Food Preferences in Dogs: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection

1
Departamento de Medicina Preventiva Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8820808, Chile
2
Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, La Pintana, Santiago 8820000, Chile
3
Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050219
Received: 25 March 2019 / Revised: 26 April 2019 / Accepted: 2 May 2019 / Published: 6 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
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Simple Summary

Preference tests allow the study of some aspects of the feeding behavior of domestic dogs. However, besides sensorial proprieties of food, intrinsic characteristics of dogs may play a role in diet selection. The aim of this study was to describe the feeding behavior of dogs in relation to diet composition and their intrinsic variables (age, breed, sex, and body weight) by using a ten-year database of two-feeder food preference tests (2007–2017). The content of less digestible fractions like crude fiber and dry matter negatively affected dogs’ food preferences. In addition, animals’ weight and breed influenced dogs’ intake of the most preferred diets, where heaviest dogs presented lower intakes as did the Beagle breed in relation with both Boxer and Labrador Retrievers. Moreover, the hot season of the year decreased dogs’ intake of preferred diets. In terms of preferences, Boxers presented a lower preference for selected diets compared to the other breeds. Finally, age and sex did not affect dogs’ preference or intake of the foods selected. The understanding of the relationships between food composition and intrinsic variables of dogs with their diet selection could improve specific pet food formulation in order to satisfy animals’ physiological and hedonic needs.

Abstract

A ten-year food preference database (2007–2017) was used to relate food selection in dogs to the nutritional components of diets by doing a principal component analysis (PCA) and a linear regression between components obtained and dogs’ preferences. Intake and preference of preferred diets were analyzed by dogs’ sex, breed, age, body weight, and the season of the year (hot or cold). The fourth component after PCA presented a relation with food preferences (OR = −2.699, p = 0.026), showing negative correlations with crude fiber (rho = −0.196; P = 0.038) and dry matter (rho = −0.184; p = 0.049). Weight (OR = −1.35; p < 0.001), breed, both Boxer (OR = 10.62; p = 0.003) and Labrador Retriever (OR = 26.30; p < 0.001), and season (hot season) (OR = −5.27; p < 0.001) all influenced animals’ intake. Boxers presented a lower food preference compared to the other breeds (OR = −44.3; p < 0.001), while animals’ weight influenced preferences only in Boxers (OR = 2.02; p < 0.001). Finally, age and sex did not affect dogs’ preference or intake of preferred diets. Thus dry matter and fiber content have a negative impact on dogs’ food choices. Dogs’ weight, breed, and season affected food intake, but only breed affected dogs’ preferences, which is probably explained by adaptive changes in the detection, metabolization, and learning of nutritive food cues. View Full-Text
Keywords: domestic dog; food preference; intrinsic variables; nutrients; pet food domestic dog; food preference; intrinsic variables; nutrients; pet food
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Alegría-Morán, R.A.; Guzmán-Pino, S.A.; Egaña, J.I.; Muñoz, C.; Figueroa, J. Food Preferences in Dogs: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection. Animals 2019, 9, 219.

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