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The Iams Company Unveils Groundbreaking Research at AVMA Convention; New study shows puppies nourished with brain-building nutrient were smarter, more trainable.

PHILADELPHIA -- New research from The Iams Company shows puppies nourished with enhanced (high) levels of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were smarter, more trainable than typical-DHA (low-DHA) nourished puppies.

The research, unveiled at a press conference at the 2004 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Philadelphia, examined the role DHA -- a long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid -- plays in puppies' neural development by focusing on the puppy's ability to learn.

In the study, puppies receiving enhanced levels of DHA significantly outperformed puppies nourished with typical levels of the nutrient. In fact, in a shape-recognition food-reward test the success rate of the puppies receiving enhanced DHA was twice that of those receiving typical DHA in their diets. Among leading U.S. brands, only the enhanced level of DHA in Eukanuba(R) Puppy Foods has been shown to promote smarter, more trainable puppies.

"Good nutrition, combined with training and loving care, primes puppies for healthy lives," said Russ Kelley, senior scientist, Iams Research & Development. "Because dogs experience their most rapid growth during their first six to 12 months, these building blocks are vital to getting puppies off to happy beginnings in the home."

In fact, puppies acquire about 70 percent of their adult brain mass by six weeks of age and 90 percent by 12 weeks. The study focused on this time period.

Study Overview

In the highly controlled study, 39 genetically similar puppies were evaluated for the effects of dietary DHA on learning. Puppies were fed a complete and balanced diet that varied only in DHA levels, as were the puppies' mothers prior to whelping. Additionally, to simulate an in-home environment, all puppies were socialized through the same types of play and human interaction.

After the age of nine weeks, with one week of training, each puppy was tested daily in multiple trials per day. For the trials, researchers used a maze course with a symbol associated with the location of a food treat.

Testing was conducted for 30 days. Throughout the trial, researchers evaluated cognitive function and trainability among the puppies, specifically comparing the results of the enhanced-DHA group to that of the typical-DHA group. The typical-DHA diet was provided to 20 puppies while 19 puppies were nourished with enhanced levels of DHA.

Study Results

Following 30 days of testing, the study showed the enhanced DHA-nourished puppies were significantly smarter, more trainable than the typical DHA-nourished puppies. Results were consistent over multiple replications.

"Findings from the research indicate dietary DHA level is a key determinant of success, with the performance of the enhanced-DHA puppies being superior in the maze testing, compared with the typical-DHA nourished puppies," Kelley said. "With all other factors being equal, puppies fed an enhanced-DHA diet demonstrated superior memories and a higher receptivity to training, confirming the importance of DHA in healthy brain development."

Additionally, Iams notes feeding a puppy a diet containing fish meal provides a source of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids to support development of neural tissues for optimal cognitive function. Eukanuba(R) Puppy Foods have more DHA than other leading puppy foods.

Practical Applications

For veterinarians and pet owners, the study offers several potential implications, including:

--Better socialization of the puppy into the family environment

--The puppy more quickly grasping training and obedience challenges

--Reduced destructive behavior from the puppy

--Fewer returned puppies due to higher trainability

"The role of DHA for puppies is similar to that for human infants -- it is a major structural component of the brain," said Dan Carey, DVM, The Iams Company. "This research shows why a puppy's diet high in DHA is so important, and for veterinarians and pet owners, it translates into various factors that will help a puppy to thrive within the home environment."

About Eukanuba

Eukanuba is owned by The Iams Company, a division of Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which has enhanced the well-being of dogs and cats by providing world-class quality foods and pet-care products for more than 50 years. To learn more about Eukanuba and the Eukanuba Veterinary Diets(R) line of canine and feline therapeutic diets, or general pet care and nutrition information, call the Eukanuba Consumer Care Center at (800) 446-3075. You also can visit Eukanuba on the Web at
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 26, 2004
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