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COLLEGE STATION, February 8, 2006 - Researchers at the College
of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M
University are seeing more clearly the relationships between
nutrition and visual performance in puppies.
They are studying correlations between dietary intake of
docosahexaenoic acid, commonly known as DHA, and its effects on
visual stimulus response in canines.
Dr. John E. Bauer, the Mark L. Morris Professor of Clinical
Nutrition, and his associates in the Department of Small Animal
Clinical Sciences have recently published an article in the Journal
of Nutrition concerning the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on
neural development in puppies.
Bauer's research focuses on dietary lipid (fat) metabolism
because some fatty acids like DHA cannot be synthesized by animals,
including humans, and must therefore be ingested. Bauer explains,
"There is evidence in non-human primates and premature infants that
omega-3 fatty acids help the overall development and functional
capacity of the nervous system as measured by response to
non-invasive visual stimulus."
The team's three-and-a-half year study, funded in part by
Nestlé-Purina PetCare, involved analyzing the visual performance of
dogs fed diets with different fat types. Bauer's team provided the
nutritional specifications and Nestlé-Purina's pilot plant in St.
Louis, MO, supplied the DHA-enhanced food for the study.
Bauer's team analyzed electroretinogram (ERG) responses from a
test group of 56 twelve-week-old puppies that were administered
clinically safe levels of DHA from the point of gestation,
throughout lactation and at the time of weaning. The team found
significant improvements in visual performance with puppies on DHA
diets not only in terms of perceptual intensity but also in regard
to response time, transduction efficiency and low-light
Bauer says this nutritional research will have far-reaching
effects on companion animal nutritional guidelines, especially
puppy formulas and dietary supplements. He says, "This type of
research will change the way we feed dogs in the future-both for
gestation and puppy growth."
Similar research is already benefiting human infant nutrition
since the FDA recently approved the use of DHA in infant formula.
For example, Bauer says that further comparative veterinary medical
research may eventually lead to creating optimal food blends that
benefit other sensory functions in companion animals, such as
smelling or hearing, which may play an important role in raising
and training service dogs.
For more information contact Dr. John Bauer at 979-845-9073 or
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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