Canine Nutrition and Welfare
The domestic dog is a facultative carnivore with omnivorous potential if circumstances demand. The dietary requirements of the dog are met by a quality commercial dog food but many free-ranging dogs are not fed at all. Poor quality dog foods may cause dietary deficiencies, some of which may be fatal. Some commercial dog foods may not meet the behavioural requirements of a dog. A constant diet of dry food is probably boring and dogs may benefit from variety in their diet including household scraps, large bones and treats. Obesity is caused by overfeeding and too little exercise and may be the most important welfare problem of dogs in the post-industrial developed world. In contrast undernutrition is a serious welfare problem elsewhere. In the last three decades the development of diets for dogs of different types and at different physiological stages, and the use of prescription diets to support medical therapy have improved the welfare of dogs significantly. The latter have led to exciting improvements in reversing age-related diseases and behaviours of old dogs. Reducing food intake increases the longevity and health of dogs and current recommendations may overestimate the energy requirements of adult dogs. More research needs to be undertaken on the behavioural needs of dogs in regard to the physical character of their diet.
KeywordsObesity Carbohydrate Osteoarthritis Manure Tryptophan
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