North Grafton, Mass., March 16, 2011 The nutritional content of dog foods marketed for old dogs varies as widely as owner's perceptions about them, according to a study published this month by veterinary nutritionists at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Although it is commonly accepted that nutritional needsboth for humans and petschange with aging, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and National Research Council have not set official dietary requirements for aging dogs. As such, foods marketed for "longevity" and "maturity" or "senior," "old" or "mature" dogs do not have to adhere to a standard nutrition profile beyond the AAFCO nutrient profile minimums for adult dogs.
In the study, Tufts researchers polled more than 1,300 people online about their perceptions about these foods. Their responses were correlated with the actual nutritional content of nearly 40 commercially available "senior" dog foods, and the study, led by resident Dana Hutchinson, DVM and Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD, were published in the latest issue of the International Journal for Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine.
Among the key findings:
Roughly 43 percent of respondents fed their dogs a senior dietbut only one-third of them did so on the advice of a veterinarian.
The vast majority of respondents84.5 percentfelt that senior dogs have different nutritional needs compared to adult dogs.
Most survey respondents felt that senior dog foods likely contained fewer calories. However, calories in the senior foods studied varied widely, ranging from 246 to 408 calories/cup. While some dogs gain weight as they age, others lose weightas such, the large range in calories might prove problematic for owners of older dogs, Freeman says.
Most respondents also said that senior dog foods likely contained less fat, protein and sodium. Among the sample senior dog diets surveyed,
|Contact: Tom Keppeler|
Tufts University, Health Sciences