Researchers at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire say they have made two important breakthroughs, which could help dogs live “longer and healthier” lives.

The discoveries were announced at the Waltham International Symposium in Vancouver last week.

The team at Waltham first adapted the Comet Assay test (which measures DNA damages) for humans.

They went on to develop a combination of antioxidants, which showed reduced DNA damage in dogs and cats. These scientists say the combination lowers the animal’s susceptibility to degenerative disorders associated with ageing, such as:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • arthritis

In a controlled trial of 40 dogs fed the recipe for two months, DNA damage was reduced by 26% compared with pets eating a conventional diet.

Dr Roger Batt, head of research at Waltham, says: “It only takes a damage or mutation to a single cell to cause a cancer and that makes a reduction of 26% in DNA damage a major step forward for the longevity and wellbeing of our pets.”

The Waltham Centre, which is funded by Mars Pet Foods, has applied for a patent for the antioxidant blend.

Another member of the team, veterinary surgeon and nutritionist, Laurie Bucher, said:

“It’s a very exciting development. This fundamental research shows that a dog’s DNA can be protected through nutrition.

“It’s early days but the next step is how we can make it available across the world in pet food.”