Essay for the Prince Laurent Foundation Price

This is a summary of a study conducted in Europe, by Dr Lippert & Dr Sapy, wherein it was proved that dogs on a home-styled diet lived on an average over 32 months (almost 3 years) longer than the dogs on an industrial dog food diet

Relationship between the domestic dog's well being and life expectancy study - Statistical Essay Findings

The dog shares our lives inside our houses. It is true in all respects. Since the dog was domesticated, it moved away from its cousin the wolf, and became fully dependent from its living environment: the man and the houses. This does not change if our dog is a working animal, such as the Malines shepherd in the army or the police, or an everyday poodle. We are responsible for it and we have to take care of it. We have to supply it with what it needs in terms of quality and quantity. To do it the best way, we have to know what is best for our friend: which is the best housing environment, how to protect it from diseases, what to prepare in terms of food to fulfill its nutritional needs. These are just a few questions raised in order to give it a quality of life in accordance with its fundamental needs and offer to the animal a quality of life together with an acceptable life expectancy. Our investigation gave us the possibility to study the various characteristics that could influence the dogs' life expectancy. These characteristics could be proper to the dog such as the race, its type, the size, the weight, but also other characteristics which would influence the dog's age of death such as the food, its living conditions, the family environment, all characteristics which are not dependent from the dog but the owner. He will therefore have a prominent influence on these characteristics, which influences directly the quality of life of the dog and the well-being of the dog. In 1998 we started with a statistical study, collecting data in order to support our analysis. This study continues. With it we have collected information and data for 522 dogs over a period of five consecutive years. The goal of our analysis was to examine the influence on the life expectancy factor of characteristics, directly related to the dog; such as sex, race and size; but also characteristics imposed by the owners, following their own choice or decision, is the animal sterilized or not, what is the housing an the family environment, what is its origin, what type of food is it fed, etc. In order to do so, we had to collect and study a sufficient number of information. We did so with the assistance of “Animals without Frontiers”, collecting data from proprietors of dead dogs. Their responsibility was to transport the bodies, coming from all over Belgium, to the incinerator in Boom. An ID sheet with all characteristics listed above was completed for each dog. We are presenting the result of our study. The essential individual characteristics (intrinsic parameters) such as the race and the size of the dog have a major influence of life expectancy of the dog. The owner has no control over these characteristics. If he wishes to do so, he could influence the external acquired characteristics (extrinsic parameters). The study evaluates the housing and family configuration, have no significant impact on the life expectancy of the dog. The two most influential external acquired characteristics (imposed by the proprietor) are the sterilization and the quality of food. Sterilisation raises the average middle age of the dog species (12 years and 3 months for sterilized animals and 10 years and 6 months for the non-sterilised). This will permit a reduction in the importance of certain illnesses like Cancer, or inflammation of genital organs. Our study shows that for food, the animal fed with home made food (based on food made with fresh ingredients at home) reach an average life of 13.1 years, as the animals fed with industrial food reach an average of 10.4 years. The animals fed with a mixture of these foods live to an average age of 11.4 years. The difference between the two extremes amounts to more than 32 months, ie close to 3 years. The great difference shows that food is a major and determinant factor for the dogs’ life expectancy. Giving it home made food is a guarantee for better protection, well-being and longer life expectancy. What makes the difference between the two types of dog food (home made vs industrial food)? It is the basic quality of ingredients used (the quality of the basic protein, quantity and faculty to assimilate vitamins and minerals when using natural products).. the importance of physical and chemical treatments applied during the fabrication process. Indeed, industrial food requires various processes (high temperature, lyophilisation, extrusion, flaking) and also chemical treatments like hydrolysis, colouring, additives, etc. It is clear from our analysis that the implication of the proprietor of the dog in the selection of the food served to the animal is of great importance and that the life expectancy for his dog is directly related to the food he serves the dog. The nature reasserts its rights and shows its value and importance. Taking into consideration the importance of the diet and its quality, shown as a dominant factor for the dogs’ life expectancy, we think that it is essential that all parties concerned, ie lab researchers, manufacturers, veterinarians, proprietors come together and talk in order to give complete satisfaction to the animals’ nutritional requirements and improve, this way, the dogs’ Well Being.

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