To investigate owners’ views around canine nutrition and wellbeing, how these beliefs may differ according to the weight status of the dog and the implications for owner support approaches.
A researcher-mediated questionnaire collected quantitative and qualitative data via structured interviews with dog owners (n=147) attending a country park in the East Midlands, UK, with a specific focus on views around canine nutrition and wellbeing.
Forty-four percent of owners cited “past experience” when determining what to feed, and only 9% of owners cited the veterinarian as a source of this information. When comparing chosen verbal description versus non-sequential body condition score images of the dog, only 22% of owners with overweight animals matched perceived verbal and visual appraisals, compared with 89% of owners of ideal weight dogs. Owners cited a good diet and regular exercise as important factors for canine wellbeing, but companionship with other dogs as the least important factor.
Owners report being aware of the important association between canine nutrition and wellbeing, but their considered importance of factors influencing dog wellbeing may be influenced by their perceived weight status of the animal. Veterinarians may need to reframe owner discourse such that there is more routine discussion around weight and nutrition at every consultation. Furthermore, the use of non-sequential body condition score images could be a useful tool for a more considered opinion of canine weight status by owners.

© 2022 British Small Animal Veterinary Association.