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Portion size and meal consumption in domesticated dogs: An experimental study

By Inge Kersbergen, Alexander J. German, Carri Westgarth, Eric Robinson

Category Journal Articles

Increases in food portion sizes have been identified as a possible contributor to the increased prevalence of obesity in humans. However, little is known about the origin of behavioural tendencies to overeat from larger portion sizes or whether other non-human animals are affected by meal portion size. In the present experimental study, we examined the effect that larger portion sizes have on meal consumption among domesticated dogs (N = 32). Dogs were fed three meals that varied in size on different occasions (150%, 200% and 300% of usual portion size). A repeated measures design was used and food consumption was measured for each meal. Portion size positively affected food consumption, with dogs eating significantly more food as the portion size of meal increased. The effect of portion size on food consumption was also observed when the dogs that finished all available food were excluded from analyses, however not among dogs who did not finish any of the meals. We conclude that the influence larger portions have on food consumption observed in humans is also observed in domesticated dogs. However, it is unclear whether portion size directly biases the amount of food dogs choose to consume, as has been suggested in humans. Further research is now warranted to examine commonalities between human and non-human animal eating behaviour to understand shared behavioural tendencies and their origins.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Physiology & Behavior
Volume 204
Pages 174-179
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.02.034
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Dogs
  3. Feeding behavior
  4. Food intake
  5. Mammals
  6. Nutrition
  7. open access
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed