According to a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, following a raw diet from the late stages of feeding until about two months old may reduce the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs later in life.
Additionally, a raw diet eaten after six months was found to have a positive effect. Meanwhile, the study suggests that feeding puppies with dry food early in their lives can increase the incidence of IBD later in life.
In addition to the diet, a mother’s history of IBD as well as the dog’s sex and age have been linked to the onset of the disease in adulthood.
“Puppies whose mothers had IBD are at a 7.9 times risk of developing the disease, with male pups carrying a 2.1 times greater risk than female pups.” Says Manal Hamida, DVM, lead author of the study from Helsinki One Health Network: “IBD was more Prevalence among dogs between the ages of 5 and 10 years. ”
Vaccinations given to dams during or shortly before pregnancy increased the risk of IBD in their offspring by 1.5 times compared to puppies whose mothers were not vaccinated in the corresponding period.
Another related factor is the weight of the puppies: Skinny puppies had a 1.4 times more chance of developing the disease in adulthood compared to normal weight puppies.
However, it remains unclear whether the low body weight was a result of undiagnosed early inflammatory bowel disease. All of our study results may indicate causal relationships, but they do not prove that. Future longitudinal nutritional intervention studies are needed to confirm our findings, as well as to develop initial strategies for preventing IBD in dogs, ”says Docent Anna Hielm-Björkman, DogRisk Research Group Leader.
As data for the study, the researchers used an online nutrition survey presented in 2009 by the DogRisk Research Group of the University of Helsinki School of Veterinary Medicine. The study investigated environmental exposures to four early stages of a dog’s life, two of which were the dog’s life inside the womb as a fetus and the lactation period, during which newborn babies receive all the nutrition they need from breastfeeding. The last two stages were the first two periods (one to two months) and the later puppy periods (two to six months).
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