About the group

In December 2009 The DogRisk Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) was launched onto the internet. It was developed by PI Anna Hielm-Björkman at the Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine, together with microbiologist Shea Beasley.

The idea was to get a longitudinal "snapshot" of what dogs had been eating, where they had lived, how active they had been, their phenotype, their diseases, and more. Having all this data we can see what dogs have been eating and where and how they have lived, prior to getting a disease. The FFQ also contains a lot of covariates so that we can model the disease and environment/diet associations.

The aim of this survey is to find possibly true cause-effect relationships and then to test them in future diet interventions.

On top of this, there is a lot of interesting data for the industry, as we can see what dog owners buy and use for their dogs. How does the "Standard Finnish dog" live? How do we feed our dogs, walk and train them, what kind of recommendations do breeders give, how are dogs vaccinated and de-wormed, how often do they get a disease and what are the diseases they suffer from? There are over 12 000 answers already. Unfortunately, up till now, you could only answer the survey in the Finnish language. The study has not been taken down from the internet and a new version is on the way.

So, the impact of the diet and other environmental factors on diseases in dogs is the first aim of the DogRisk project. We also wanted to collect as many dogs as possible so that we can use this data bank when we are searching patients to new clinical studies.

The first clinical study in the DogRisk program was the food trial in 2013–2014. In this trial, we studied atopy and allergies in Staffordshire Bull Terriers and how these diseases are affected by nutrition, genes and metabolism. As we had a hard time to get funded when we started, it took some years for us to get papers published. Published articles posters from conferences can be found under the page "Research by DogRisk".

Eth­ics: no laboratory an­im­als

The DogRisk research group never uses laboratory animals in their clinical studies. Instead, we use client-owned pet dogs that have spontaneous diseases and are already affected by the disease when participating in the trial. Making animal sick in laboratories is unethical and does not mimic the real-life situation of spontaneous diseases in dogs and humans. Our "research dogs" are your dogs and our dogs and they live normal lives with their family during the trial and only come to the Veterinary hospital for necessary visits. The most painful operation done during the visits is the blood sampling...and that is not painful.

In addition, the DogRisk group does lots of epidemiological studies that do not require using living animals at all, only that owners answer our surveys.

Where are we now?

We have gathered so much data and have so much to say... but we are humble to the fact that we cannot do it alone anymore.

In the past, we have been helped by both the University and the industry and want to thank each and every one of them and all the private persons who have supported us too!

We have done a lot of research, but we still have tons more to research! Because of this, we hope that everyone involved in the industry of dog food and well being, all dog owners and people interested in diet and disease relationships, that feel they would like to see the results published, will help us in a joint effort. Together we can!

Please Support us by donating and by letting all other dog owners know about our research all around the world. If you are able to donate a larger sum and would need a receipt for it, please contact us on anna.hielm-bjorkman (at) helsinki.fi

We thank you, and so will dogs and people with chronic diseases around the world do!