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Pets: Dogs fed once a day are less likely to be diagnosed with age-related conditions


A study has found that dogs who feed only once a day may be less likely to develop age-related conditions such as digestive, bone and liver disorders.

Experts led by the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 24,000 pet dogs for links between feeding rates, cognitive function and health outcomes.

The researchers said canines may benefit from less frequent feeding, due to hunting origins – their wolf ancestors often living for days without food.

However, the team cautioned that more studies are needed to validate the findings, and that it’s too early to recommend owners change their dogs’ feeding regimens.

A study found that dogs fed only once a day may be less likely to develop age-related conditions such as digestive, bone and liver disorders (stock image)

Experts led by the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 24,000 pet dogs for links between feeding rates and both cognitive function and health outcomes.  Pictured: The team found that dogs that fed once daily had lower odds of developing nine different types of age-related health complications than those that fed more frequently.

Experts led by the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 24,000 pet dogs for links between feeding rates and both cognitive function and health outcomes. Pictured: The team found that dogs that fed once daily had lower odds of developing nine different types of age-related health complications than those that fed more frequently.

Should I change my dog’s diet?

Not yet, the researchers said, because more studies are needed to confirm that the association between health and meal frequency is a cause rather than just an association.

For example, the team explained that their study did not assess how much each dog eats per day – and thus dogs fed twice daily could have worse health outcomes as a result of feeding them more, rather than more often.

If you are in doubt about how much and when to feed your pet, you should consult a veterinarian.

The research was conducted by Emily Bray, an expert in canine cognition from the University of Arizona and colleagues.

“For nearly a century, calorie restriction has been known to extend life and delay age-related diseases in laboratory animals,” the team wrote in their paper, also noting that time-restricted eating may also have benefits for us humans.

Companion dogs provide a powerful potential animal model to better understand the relationship between diet and age-related health outcomes.

Feeding once daily in dogs serves as a natural model for intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding protocols currently being studied in both preclinical rodent models and in human trials.

The researchers analyzed data from the Dog Aging Project, a US initiative launched in 2019 by paper author and University of Washington biologist Matt Kaeberlin that aims to explore the genetic and environmental causes of dog aging.

Dog owners participating in the project complete an annual survey on their pets’ activities, diet, health, medication, social environment, and physical surroundings.

Thus Dr. Bray and colleagues were able to compare the effect of different feeding regimens on nine different broad health categories including the heart, dental and neurological health of 24,238 pet dogs.

In addition, the team evaluated the effect of feeding frequency on the cognitive function of a smaller subgroup of 10,474 dogs.

After controlling for confounding factors such as age, breed, and gender, the researchers found that dogs fed once per day had lower scores on the cognitive problems test than their peers fed twice or more per day.

Likewise, canines that were given only one meal per day appeared to show lower odds of developing dental, gastrointestinal, kidney/urinary, liver/pancreatic, and bone disorders.

“Our findings suggest that feeding dogs once a day is associated with improved health across multiple body systems,” the team wrote in their paper.

‘In my view, it’s very compelling evidence,’ Prof Kaeberlin told New Scientist, but cautioned that the study did not prove a causal link, and that other factors, such as how much dogs eat in general, may also play a role. .

“Based on this study, we would not recommend people make a change in the way they feed their dogs,” he added.

The team cautioned that more studies are needed to validate the findings - and that it's too early to recommend owners to change their dogs' feeding regimens (stock image)

The team cautioned that more studies are needed to validate the findings – and that it’s too early to recommend owners to change their dogs’ feeding regimens (stock image)

After controlling for confounding factors such as age, breed, and gender, the researchers found that dogs fed once per day had lower scores on the cognitive problems test (in the picture, the darker dots represent the once-daily dogs fed, while the other dots are those which is fed often)

After controlling for confounding factors such as age, breed, and gender, the researchers found that dogs fed once per day had lower scores on the cognitive problems test (in the picture, the darker dots represent the once-daily dogs fed, while the other dots are those which is fed often)

“The strength of the study is that the numbers are large and the statistical methods sound,” University of Liverpool veterinarian Alex German told New Scientist.

However, he cautioned, “people should not change the way they feed their dogs until more studies are done.”

In the future, researchers hope to explore the impact of how much — as well as how often — pet dogs eat, as well as the role that obesity may play in developing age-related health conditions in dogs.

An advance copy of the researchers’ article, which has not been peer-reviewed, can be read at the bioRxiv repository.

More information about the Dog Aging Project – which aims to expand to international participants next year – can be found on their website.

Dogs were first domesticated about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago

A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains revealed that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia, about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Dr. Krishna Virama, assistant professor of evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: “The domestication of dogs was a very complex process, involving a number of generations where distinctive canine traits evolved gradually.

The current hypothesis is that dog domestication likely arose passively, with a pack of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding on human-made waste.

Those wolves that were tamed and less aggressive were more successful at this, and while humans initially did not gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they developed a kind of symbiosis. [mutually beneficial] The relationship with these animals, eventually evolved into the dogs we see today.



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