Posted at 12 July 2018

Evaluation of food palatability and preference is of great importance to the pet food industry. One common technique for evaluating palatability is a 2-bowl test in which 2 products are offered simultaneously and food consumption is measured. This yields clear results with dogs trained to routinely conduct such comparisons, but it is less clear how this extends to untrained pet dogs. In addition, prior research indicates that olfaction is important in food preference, but methods for evaluating odor preference in canines are currently lacking.

In this study, we developed a modified 2-bowl test for evaluation of food preferences in pet dogs with minimal training, and an olfactometer technique for the evaluation of odor preferences. In our 2-bowl procedure, we observed clear preferences among 4 commercial food products in 6 pet dogs. Across repeated testing, preferences strengthened, but the first evaluation accurately estimated the direction and significance of preference.

In addition, dogs typically (89% of the time) consumed more of the food they chose first, suggesting they did not need to taste each food to choose. Our odor preference olfactometer assessment, however, did not reveal odor preferences other than that dogs preferred to sniff a food odor over clean air. Further work will be needed to identify methods of measuring odor preferences amongst food odors for dogs, but the modified 2-bowl test shows promise for further testing in pet dogs.

Authors: Nathaniel J. Hall1, Franck Péron2, Stéphanie Cambou2, Laurence Callejon2 and Clive D.L. Wynne3

1Department of Animal and Food Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA
2Diana Pet Food, Elven, France
3Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA


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