In order to obtain and interpret accurate results, palatability studies must be performed by experienced animal technicians, with data analyzed by research nutritionists. Feeding studies are conducted by offering an animal two bowls of food at the same time. Each bowl contains a different diet that has been carefully weighed and recorded.
The technician observes which food the animal chooses to eat first, then records that as the first bite preference. After a specific time period, bowls are removed and any remaining food is weighed and recorded. Diets are also switched from left to right each day of the study to ensure that animals are not eating one diet simply out of habit.
The total volume measurement is determined by calculating the difference between the beginning and ending weights of each food. This procedure is repeated using the same two diets with the same group of dogs or cats for five days. At the end of the five-day study, all observations and data are compiled and analyzed to determine the overall palatability of each diet.