Are you putting your dog at risk for becoming malnourished or overweight? Probably, say the results of a new study. Researchers found that dog owners are often inaccurate when measuring out kibble using a scoop, putting the dogs at risk of under-nourishment or weight gain.
Overview of Findings
A cup might seem like the most obvious way to measure out dry dog food, but new University of Guelph research finds that when it comes to getting portions right, dog owners often get it wrong.
The study, designed to test dog owners’ measuring skills, found owners were often inaccurate, ranging from a 48 percent underestimation to a 152 percent overestimation, depending on the device they used and the amount they tried to portion out.
The occasional measurement mistake may not seem like much, but errors made day after day could lead to under-nourishment, weight gain or obesity, warn the researchers.
“We found it particularly concerning to see how often participants over-measured the assigned portions, particularly given that there is an ongoing problem with pet obesity. Dog owners can easily overfeed their animals if they don’t measure out portions correctly, putting their animals at risk of several obesity-related diseases.”
-Professor Jason Coe, University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College
The study, published in the BMJ journal Veterinary Record and funded by Royal Canin, recruited 100 dog owners and asked them to use one of three common measuring devices to measure out kibble: a standard 2-cup scoop with gradated markings, sold at a local pet store; a 2-cup liquid measuring cup typically used for baking; and a 1-cup plastic dry-food measuring cup.
Each participant was asked to take their assigned measuring device and measure out three volumes of dry dog food: ¼ cup, ½ cup and 1 cup. The volume of dog food measured by participants was then compared to the correct weights respectively.
The participants’ portions varied considerably, particularly when they were asked to portion out the smallest volume which participants often got significantly wrong.
“That finding has important implications for small dogs, since they typically receive smaller volumes of food. Even a small amount of over measuring for a small dog can be a considerable increase in their daily caloric intake putting them at risk of weight gain from too much food.”
It “seems” about right
♠ Those using the 2-cup liquid measuring cup were most likely to inaccurately measure all three portions.
♠ Study participants were most accurate when they used a 1-cup dry-food measuring device to portion out 1 cup of kibble.
♠ Another option for improving accuracy is to use a dry-food measuring device matched to the amount needed
♠ The best method of all, say the researchers, is the kitchen scale, which ensures each portion size is precise.
The solution, according to the researchers, is for dog owners to change their approach to measuring their dog’s dry food. The gold standard would be to use a kitchen scale to weigh out portions. Scales are precise and leave little room for error to ensure that dogs are neither over- nor underfed.
Journal Reference: Jason B Coe, Alexandra Rankovic, Tara R Edwards, Jacqueline M Parr. Dog owner’s accuracy measuring different volumes of dry dog food using three different measuring devices. Veterinary Record, 2019; vetrec-2018-105319 DOI: 10.1136/vr.105319