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Feeding Dogs Certain Table Scraps Could Help Their Health, Study Says

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According to new research, feeding your dog table scraps and the occasional bone or raw meat may actually make them healthier.

A diet for puppies and young dogs that includes non-processed meat, dinner table scraps, and raw bones may shield your pet from gastrointestinal illnesses later in life, according to a new study from the University of Helsinki in Finland that was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Raw bones and unprocessed meats may save dogs from developing gastrointestinal problems like chronic enteropathy (CE), whereas processed dog meals may have the reverse impact.

“Proactive owners can provide a variety of whole foods and species-appropriate leftovers for the puppies and young dogs, even as an addition to a kibble-based diet,” study author Anna Hielm Björkman said. 

The researchers examined information from the DogRisk food frequency questionnaire, which was developed at the university in 2009, describing the diets of 4,681 puppies and 3,926 adolescent dogs. In all, 1,016 (21.7%) of the puppies and 699 (17.8%) of the adolescent dogs had chronic enteropathy (CE), or gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and loss of appetite.

“Canine chronic enteropathies (CE) and human infammatory bowel diseases (IBD) share many similarities,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Symptoms include persistent and/or recurrent vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal sounds and gas, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and/or weight loss which last longer than three weeks. The symptoms have severe and stressful impacts on the dog’s life and increase the caregiver burden of the owner.”

Dog owners were questioned about what and where their pets were fed at various stages of their lives. They were also questioned about any health difficulties their dog had, as well as when and how often they had them.

While the exact causes of CE in dogs and IBD in adults are still unknown, the research has revealed some potential triggers, including genetic predisposition, decreased gut microbial diversity, and even ingesting highly processed meals.

“In humans, the Western diet which contains ultra-processed foods and high amounts of sugar has been connected to IBD risk. Thus a greater understanding of dietary choices and dietary components that are a risk or can have a protective effect can help in preventing the disease. As early dietary exposures are modifiable, the dog owners would then have a chance to act proactively and have an impact on their dog’s health,” the researchers added.

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