Objective: To describe effects of lifetime food restriction on causes of death and the association between body-mass characteristics and time of death in dogs.
Design: Paired-feeding study.
Animals: 48 dogs from 7 litters.
Procedures: Dogs were paired, and 1 dog in each pair was fed 25% less food than its pair mate from 8 weeks of age until death. Numerous morphometric and physiologic measures were obtained at various intervals throughout life. Associations of feeding group to time and causes of death were evaluated, along with important associated factors such as body composition components and insulin-glucose responses.
Results: Median life span was significantly longer for the group that was fed 25% less food, whereas causes of death were generally similar between the 2 feeding groups. High body-fat mass and declining lean mass significantly predicted death 1 year prior to death, and lean body composition was associated with metabolic responses that appeared to be integrally involved in health and longevity.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results were similar to results of diet restriction studies in rodents and primates, reflecting delayed death from species- and strain-specific intrinsic causes. Clinicians should be aware that unplanned body mass changes during mid- and later life of dogs may indicate the need for thorough clinical evaluation.