Development, factor structure and application of the Dog Obesity Risk and Appetite (DORA) questionnaire.

19 Jun 2018

Background. Dogs are compelling models in which to study obesity since the condition shares many characteristics between humans and dogs. Differences in eating behaviour are recognised to contribute to obesity susceptibility in other species but this has not been systematically studied in dogs. Aim. To develop and validate an owner-reported measure of canine eating behaviour and owner or dog related factors which can alter the development of obesity. Further, to then test variation in food-motivation in dogs and its association with obesity and owner management. Methods. Owner interviews, a literature review and existing human appetite scales were used to identify relevant topics and generate items for the questionnaire. Following a pilot phase, a 75 item online questionnaire was distributed via social media. Responses from 302 dog/owner dyads were analysed and factor structure and descriptive statistics calculated. Results were compared with descriptions of dog behaviour and management from a subset of respondents during semi-structured interviews. The optimum questions were disseminated as a 34 item final questionnaire completed by 213 owners, with a subset of respondents repeating the questionnaire 3 weeks later to assess test-retest reliability. Results. Analysis of responses to the final questionnaire relating to 213 dog/owner dyads showed a coherent factor structure and good test-retest reliability. There were three dog factors (food responsiveness and satiety, lack of selectivity, Interest in food), four owner factors (owner motivation to control dog weight, owner intervention to control dog weight, restriction of human food, exercise taken) and two dog health factors (signs of gastrointestinal disease, current poor health). Eating behaviour differed between individuals and between breed groups. High scores on dog factors (high food-motivation) and low scores on owner factors (less rigorous control of diet/exercise) were associated with obesity. Owners of more highly food-motivated dogs exerted more control over their dogs' food intake than those of less food-motivated dogs. Conclusions. The DORA questionnaire is a reliable and informative owner-reported measure of canine eating behaviour and health and management factors which can be associated with obesity development. The tool will be applicable to study of the canine obesity model and to clinical veterinarians. Results revealed eating behaviour to be similarly associated with obesity as exercise and owners giving titbits.