The Dogrisk research team led by Docent Anna Hielm-Björkman at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has been collecting detailed information about the diet, exercise and health of Finnish dogs since 2009. Dogrisk, which has so far received over 10,000 responses to its Food Frequency Questionnaire, is the first research group at the University of Helsinki to launch a crowdfunding campaign in order to promote the progress of its research project.

Three years ago, the research group conducted a food trial on over 60 dogs, some of whom were healthy and some of whom suffered from atopy. The dogs were fed with two types of food.

“We will publish our research report this year, but despite the exciting results, it remains uncertain whether we can continue with this project due to the dwindling research funding. Just as we had started researching osteoarthritis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, the recession hit and funding dried up,” frets Dr Anna Hielm-Björkman, the leader of the Dogrisk research team.

Clinical research is not without costs – the expenses per one dog alone soar easily when there are several samples to analyse for a number of different research areas. To ease the situation, Dogrisk launched a crowdfunding campaign on 16 June to allow all dog owners, dog food manufacturers, the entire food industry, the health sector, insurance companies, various veterinary professionals and all others interested in the project to support research aiming to improve canine health with a suitable sum.

 “This is an easy way to participate in dog-friendly health research – join us and support our research, let’s see what we can accomplish together,” encourages Hielm-Björkman.

“The University of Helsinki is actively seeking new channels of research funding, crowdfunding being one of them. We plan to pilot an operational model which will facilitate the acquisition of crowdfunding and bring research closer to the public,” says Pasi Sihvonen from the University’s Research Services.

The objective of the Dogrisk research team is to investigate what kind of a diet would optimally guarantee a long and healthy life for dogs – the average life expectancy of Finnish dogs is 11 years.

“We hope that the research results will also serve human health, for dogs provide an excellent model for many human diseases; after all, the human and canine genomes are 95% identical. Many dog owners might remember responding to the extensive online questionnaire on dog diets and I wish to thank all of them! The survey site is still open and we welcome all new respondents,” concludes Hielm-Björkman.

Further information:
Docent Anna Hielm-Björkman, phone +358 44 327  0462, anna.hielm-bjorkman@helsinki.fi

You can also support the Dogrisk projects through the Mesenaatti.me platform: https://mesenaatti.me/dogrisk/  

The Food Frequency Questionnaire (in Finnish): http://www.ruokintakysely.fi/