Article Text

Download PDFPDF
An observational study of pet feeding practices and how these have changed between 2008 and 2018
  1. Sarah Dodd1,
  2. Nick Cave2,
  3. Sarah Abood1,
  4. Anna-Kate Shoveller3,
  5. Jennifer Adolphe4 and
  6. Adronie Verbrugghe1
  1. 1 Department of Clinical Studies, University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  3. 3 Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Petcurean Pet Nutrition, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adronie Verbrugghe, Department of Clinical Studies, University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada; averbrug{at}


Background Pet owners have many feeding options, some may be considered unconventional by veterinary practitioners. Provision of appropriate nutrition is a basic requirement, with adverse health outcomes possible when a pet diet is inadequate.

Objective To capture dog and cat feeding practices, with a special focus on countries with large English-speaking populations, and to compare with data published over the previous 10 years.

Methods An electronic questionnaire was provided for dog and cat owners online. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistics, and comparisons made with data from nine peer-reviewed articles published over the previous 10 years.

Results Responses from 3673 English-speaking dog and cat owners in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA were included. In previous publications, conventional (commercial, heat-processed) products were the predominant method of feeding. In recent publications, feeding unconventional (raw, homemade, vegetarian) diets appeared more prevalent. In the present study, most (79 per cent dogs, 90 per cent cats) pets were offered conventional food. However a few (13 per cent dogs, 32 per cent cats) pets were fed conventional foods exclusively. Many pets were offered homemade (64 per cent dogs, 46 per cent cats) and/or raw (66 per cent dogs, 53 per cent cats) foods. Different feeding practices were associated with geographical location.

Conclusion As an increased risk of nutrient insufficiency and associated conditions have been attributed to unconventional feeding practices, veterinarians must be aware of pet feeding trends and educate clients about the nutritional needs of companion animals.

  • dogs
  • cats
  • nutrition
  • companion animals
  • alternative diet
  • raw animal products
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The y-axes of the graphs in figure 1 were incorrectly labelled and have been amended accordingly.

  • Funding This study was funded by Mitacs Accelerate.

  • Competing interests SD is the owner of Dodd Veterinary Services and participates in paid internships and engagements within the pet food industry. NC is an associate professor and academic group leader at the Massey University School of Veterinary Science and a member of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee. AV is the Royal Canin Veterinary Diets endowed chair in canine and feline clinical nutrition at the Ontario Veterinary College, serves on the Health and Nutrition Advisory Board for Vetdiet and has received research funding from various pet food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. SA is the owner of Sit Stay Speak Nutrition, consults with various manufacturers within the pet food industry and consults with Pet Recipe Designers. A-KS serves on the scientific advisory board for Trouw Nutrition’s Companion Animal and has received funding from various pet food manufacturers and feed and food ingredient companies. JA is employed as the nutrition manager at Petcurean Pet Nutrition.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Anonymous questionnaire responses available upon request from from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.