Pets

What Is Your Dog's Most Important Meal of the Day?

10/20/2012

Breakfast
Photo: geraldbrazell/Flickr

Much like with people, new research suggests that a dog's most important meal of the day is breakfast. It turns out that getting an extra boost in the morning carries over into a dog's performance and energy throughout the rest of the day, reports the BBC.

A study carried out at the University of Kentucky by researchers Dr. Holly Miller and Charlotte Bender tested the search performance of trained dogs after either consuming breakfast or fasting. Researchers hid food from dogs and timed how quickly they were able to hunt it down.

You might think that the dogs that were fasting would have found it first, seeing as they were likely to be the most hungry. But dogs which had eaten breakfast 30 minutes beforehand actually displayed the greater search accuracy. Apparently their morning meal only served as an appetizer.

"The key finding here is rather simple: breakfast can aid performance by dogs," Dr. Miller told BBC Nature.

All the dogs were required to exhibit self-control by 'sitting and staying' for 10 minutes before seeking their snacks. This ensured that all of the dogs in the study began their search in an identical state.

Dr. Miller surmises that the same is likely true with wild canines too, with one caveat. Domesticated dogs are typically fed carbohydrate-rich commercial dog food, whereas wild canines survive on a diet of hunted meat. Domesticated dogs' brains and bodies are therefore more susceptible to glucose fluctuations which may make them more "moody." Breakfast is particularly important for domestic dogs, therefore, to better maintain their energy levels.

Even wild canines are prone to mood swings if they're hungry, though, which could affect their performance.

"When hungry they become less able to control their behavior and this might be why, when hungry, they are so much more dangerous and unpredictable," explained Dr. Miller.

By Bryan Nelson


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