URBANA, Ill. – Last August, a team of researchers from the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois launched an online survey aimed at dog owners. So far, they’ve received about 2,000 responses, but they need more.
The survey is designed to capture the practices of pet owners in terms of their lifestyle, dietary choices, and food behavior, and how they translate those practices to their pets. Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor in companion animal and comparative nutrition, is leading the effort. She and graduate student Juliana Nogueira will analyze survey responses to better understand how humans make dietary choices for their dogs.
“Pet foods have really diversified in recent years. The vast number of choices now available to pet owners stems mostly from the humanization of pets, and the closer animal-human bond we have developed with dogs and cats over the last several decades. However, very little empirical evidence is available on what dog owners base their decisions on, in terms of daily care and nutritional choices of their pets,” Cattai de Godoy says.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
“We would like to encourage dog owners to participate and to share this research questionnaire with their friends, family, and social network. We need your help to receive 1,000 more responses by the end of August, to achieve our goal and provide results that can further benefit our furry best friends,” Nogueira says.
The researchers may use the survey results to develop educational materials for owners about their dog’s nutritional needs and wellbeing. Published results from the research questionnaire may also assist the pet food industry in developing products tailored to owners’ habits and preferences, as well as dogs’ nutritional needs.
The survey is available at the following URLs: