A previous work suggests that dietary fat may influence canine olfaction. The present study evaluated whether olfactory performance could be influenced by forms of dietary fat and exercise. Seventeen certified detection dogs were fed three different diets (high fat, low fat or high polyunsaturated fat) for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, olfactory testing was performed using a scent wheel in an olfaction laboratory using three explosive materials. The dogs completed eight to twelve scent trials before and after a 30 min treadmill exercise on five consecutive days. A mixed-effect logistic regression model was used to examine how diet, pre- or post-exercise, trial number, odourant, mass of target and target position influenced the probability of dogs alerting on the target odour. There were no significant changes in the dog's ability to find a target odour at threshold amounts. Dogs were 1·42 (1·08, 1·87; 95 % CI) times as likely to find a target on the high polyunsaturated fat diet relative to the high-fat diet (P = 0·009). The low-fat diet was not significantly different from either the high-fat diet or the high polyunsaturated fat diet (P = 0·12). Dogs were 1·49 (1·26, 1·76; 95 % CI) times as likely to find a target prior to exercise relative to after exercise (P < 0·001). Dogs on the high PUFA diet utilising maize oil showed mild improvement in olfaction. The exact reasons are unknown; however, the higher relative amount of linoleic acid in the diet may play a role in olfactory sensation which warrants further examination of optimal diets for detection dogs.
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