Charles River Biolabs, Carrentrila, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Products with essential fatty acids have become popular feed supplements for dogs to improve the condition of the skin and coat. The available products come in various forms: liquids, powders, and tablets. Quality and palatability of the products are primary concerns. In this study, the palatability of two brands (a powder produced by Oystershell and a liquid produced by Virbac) of essential fatty acid feed supplements were compared; the Oystershell product also was tested separately. In each trial, 20 dogs (pointers) were used and Purina Dog Chow (dry) was offered as the feed. The supplements were added directly to the feed. In trial 1, the palatability of the two products was compared using a preference test. Two bowls of feed with 1000 g of feed each were prepared for the dogs. In each bowl, either the powder or liquid product (at the label rate) was mixed with the feed. The bowls were then placed in the dog pen (one on each side) and then the dog was led into the pen and allowed to eat for 1 h. The position of the bowls with each product was altered daily (left or right side of the pen). Which bowl the dog approached first was noted, which bowl the dog ate from first was noted, and the total consumed from each bowl was measured. The two bowls were offered for four days. In trial two, an acceptance test was used to test the palatability of the Oystershell product. The same dogs were not used in the two studies. Data from both trials were analyzed using a paired one-tailed t-test. Both products were accepted by the dogs and there was no preference for either product. In addition, the Oystershell brand was tested for consistency in fatty acid content. Based on the analysis of 8 samples, consistency from a single production run was relatively high (64.7% (arithmetic mean; StDev 0.4) and 16.9% (StDev 0.6) poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, respectively).