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TDK conference 2018

Pet feeding practices of dog owners in Hungary
Sziklai Lili Blanka - year 5
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Clinical Pathophysiology and Oncology
Supervisor: Dr. Krisztina Kungl


Currently more and more owners treat their dogs as family members. Their desire to provide adequate nutrition led to the dynamic development of small animal nutrition. Despite the importance of this topic we have limited data about how owners feed their dogs in everyday life. Laflamme et al. (2008) studied dog feeding habits in the USA and in Australia (635 dogs), and some market-share data are available from market surveys by manufacturers. As far as we know such survey has not been performed in Hungary.

In our study we investigated the situation in Hungary using a questionnaire which was shared with the owners via the internet. 1390 usable forms arrived between 15 February and 2 April 2018. We asked 41 questions: general information about the owners and their dogs, indoor/outdoor keeping conditions, health status of the pet and the detailed feeding practice. For data analysis 4 groups were formed based on the type of the used feed: commercial dogfood only, homemade cooked food, raw feeding practice exclusively (barf) and mixed feeding practice. In these groups we asked for detailed info about the commercial foods, ingredients and dietary supplements they used, we also examined the relationship between health status and feeding regimen.

Results show that in Hungary majority (56.26%) of dogs are fed a mixed diet, therefore they get both commercial dog food and homemade meals (raw or boiled) regularly. 19.64% receive only pet food, furthermore 18.56% eat raw meat-based diet and 5.5% on homemade diet exclusively. 62.5% of those who use mixed feeding practice give their pet dietary supplements regularly, 57.2% in the commercial dog food group, 71.9% in the barf and 59.2% in the homemade food group, respectively. The owners also reported what influenced their decision when choosing the feeding regimen, the highest decision rates in the groups were: mixed feeding - own decision (35.4%); commercial dogfoods - vet’s advice (44.7%); barf - internet (36.4%) and homemade cooked - vet’s advice (46.7%).

About a third of the dogs from the homemade and the mixed diet groups don’t receive any dietary supplements, therefore it is questionable whether all their nutrient needs are covered. Most of the raw feeders use supplements, but their choices are mostly based on personal experience shared in social media and are not discussed with veterinarians or nutritionists. 73% of dogs are fed commercial dog food regularly, but only 20% exclusively. The commercial dog food manufacturers guarantee complete and balanced nutrition only, if 90% of the daily energy input is covered by their product. Because of this, dogs on a mixed food diet, are likely to get one or more nutrients in suboptimal amounts compared to their daily requirements. Since many owners take the advice of their veterinarian, we must pay attention among vet professionals to create more reliable feeding recommendations and to effectively communicate them to owner.

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