Purina’s Landmark Life Span Study in Dogs

A dog running through a field

Overweight dogs are typically seen as cuddly, cute and super loveable. While a little extra weight means that there is more of your dog to hug and love, a landmark Purina study has shown that dogs that are fed to ideal body condition live longer and healthier lives.

The Purina Life Span Study was the first completed study of its kind that examined the effects of feeding dogs to a lean body condition throughout their entire lives. The 14-year study was conducted at Purina Pet Care Centre in Missouri and was completed in 2001.

How the Study Was Conducted

  • 48 eight-week-old Labrador Retrievers took part in the study. They were paired off based on gender and body weight and randomly assigned to the control group or the lean-fed group.
  • Dogs in the control group ate an unlimited amount of food as puppies and a constant amount of food provided based on ideal body weight beginning at 3.25 years of age.
  • Dogs in the lean-fed group received 25% less than the amount eaten by their paired littermates.
  • The dogs were weighed periodically and various health indicators, such as body fat mass, bone mass, and blood glucose and insulin levels, were measured annually.

Study Results

Extended Healthy Years

The study produced some significant results throughout the dog’s life span. The results showed that lean-fed dogs’ healthy years were extended by 1.8 years. Median life span, the age at which 50 per cent of the dogs in the group had died, was 11.2 years in the control group in comparison to 13 years in the lean-fed group.

Better Health and Fewer Signs of Aging

Researchers also observed that lean-fed dogs had healthier blood pressures, blood sugar levels and heart rates than the control dogs. There were also fewer visible signs of aging present. This included fewer impaired gaits, graying muzzles and reduced activity at a later age as compared to dogs in the control group.

In addition, the lean-fed dogs had a delayed need for treatment of chronic conditions. For instance, osteoarthritis was treated at an average of three years later in lean-fed dogs than dogs in the control group.

Your Dog’s Body Condition

The results of this study show that feeding dogs less can significantly affect their healthy years and delay the need for treatment of certain illnesses. If your dog is overweight, it is never too late to make safe, healthy changes to your dog’s diet. Learn more about our weight management formulas.

You veterinarian is the best source of information regarding weight management. Ask your veterinarian for help to recognize the signs of obesity in your dog.

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