Scientific research can provide a wealth of information to pet owners who are looking for evidence-based recommendations regarding how to best manage their dogs’ health. A recent article in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition reported that the tool you use to measure your dog’s food and the size of the food bowl can contribute to overfeeding.
How the Study Was Run
Fifty-four pairs of dogs and their owners were involved in the study. The owners were asked to feed their pets a “normal” meal of dry dog food four times over the course of four visits using the following combinations of tools:
- a small bowl and small scoop
- a small bowl and large scoop
- a large bowl and small scoop
- a large bowl and large scoop
The scientists then measured the amount of food the owners offered on each occasion.
After evaluating the results, the researchers found that the mean “amount of food portioned using the small bowl and small scoop was significantly less than all other bowl and scoop combinations” and that “owners were more likely to portion a larger amount of food with a large bowl and large scoop.” These results are explained as possibly being caused by the “Delboeuf optical illusion and the Ebbinghaus-Titchener size-contrast illusion.” Basically, objects appear larger when they are in proximity to other, smaller objects.
What does this mean for pet owners? In addition to picking out a nutritionally complete food that is appropriate for a dog’s age, activity level, and health status, owners also need to closely watch how much food they are offering their dogs. People often complain that the proper, measured amount of food for their dog looks like too tiny of a meal to be satisfying, particularly when a pet is on a diet.
If you find yourself in this situation, try switching to a smaller measuring cup and a smaller food bowl. The recommended amount of your dog’s food just might appear large enough to prevent you from adding that little something extra that can sabotage even the best weight-loss regimens.