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Factors that Impact Palatability Testing

At PF LLC, we focus on bettering the lives of people and their pets by making it easier than ever to administer medications to their animals. In the world of companion animal health products, we work hard to improve the likelihood that a pet will happily choose to ingest medications and supplements offered to them. We do this by researching and developing ways to improve palatability.

What is Palatability?

Palatability refers to the measure of attraction an animal has for a substance. Pets are more likely to consume foods with a high palatability than a lower palatability. Since you can’t convince a pet to eat something, you have to tempt them with taste. Much like a small child, a pet will eat something (or refuse to eat it) based solely on how palatable it is.

What Factors Affect Palatability?

Palatability is determined by more than simply how a medicine or supplement tastes. In fact, with most animals, the taste is not the primary driver in how palatable a medicine or supplement is.

Dogs have roughly 50 times as many olfactory receptors in their noses as people do. In addition, the part of a dog's brain devoted to processing smells is approximately 40 times as large as that of the human brain. Some scientists suggest that a dog's sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times as keen as a human's. Cats are also much more receptive to scent than humans.

Scent plays a huge role in the palatability of medicine or supplement to an animal. Flavoring suppliers for pet medicines or supplements utilize different palatants to mask an offensive or "medicinal" scent in the product they present to animals. There are several ways to do this, and it is in this area that PF LLC excels.

In addition to scent, palatability is determined by taste. While taste is strongly linked to scent, the two factors can sometimes operate independently. Palatant suppliers work to provide medicine or supplement palatability enhancers that improve the taste and scent of the medicine.

Finally, the last factor in palatability is the texture or "feel" in the animal's mouth. This factor may play a smaller role than taste and scent, but it certainly plays a part nonetheless.

How is Palatability Measured?

Flavor vendors like PF LLC, work hard to improve the palatability of medicines and supplements. However, because animals cannot talk and provide feedback, we must develop other methods of measuring the palatability of a substance.

To do this, we engage in lengthy studies utilizing various combinations of flavors for pet medicine with different edibles to see how animals react. Although there are many ways to test for palatability, the classic method is quite simple: two dishes are placed in front of the animal. One contains a substance with a known palatability score, and the other is the test edible. We watch to see which bowl the animal chooses. In other methods, pets are offered flavor bases and are observed for voluntary consumption.

For all of these methods, we keep track of the consumption rate, the amount of consumption, and how eagerly the animal approaches the proffered edible. By keeping track of these, and other factors, flavor concentrate manufacturers can establish a good idea of the palatability of a given substance.

What Are Some Factors That Can Affect Palatability Testing?

As with any experiment, a palatability test must account for several factors apart from the tested edibles. Environmental factors can affect an animal's response and, as such, must be tightly controlled to the greatest extent possible.

In addition to environmental factors such as temperature, noise, and other elements in the testing room, we consider the animal itself. Animals that are sickly or do not feel well may not show much enthusiasm for even the best chewable tablet or other edible. Pet medicine palatability can only be difficult to determine unless you know the animal you use as a test subject is in good health and feels fine.

We must also consider an animal's oral health. Even if the test animal is not sick or feeling poorly, if its teeth hurt due to a cavity or any other consideration, it will not eat the soft chew or other items we are testing, producing a skewed test result. As such, we take great care to monitor and treat any oral health issues.

We also take into consideration an animal's behavioral health. An animal that is frightened or anxious will likely turn away from food that it might typically find to be irresistible. To prevent inaccurate results due to an animal's psychological or emotional condition, we work hard to ensure all our animals are happy, and calm and aren’t suffering from behavioral or psychological issues.

Finally, we consider the age of the test animal. Older animals simply don't have the same appetite that younger ones do. Using animals of different ages in palatability testing can lead to inaccurate results.

At PF LLC. We Focus on the Science of Palatability.

Many factors must be controlled to determine how palatable a medicine or supplement is. At PF LLC, we work hard to get everything right, so we have an accurate measure of how effective our flavor for pet medicine is..

PF LLC works with product developers and manufacturers. We do not sell our products directly. If you are a pet owner and need help with your pet taking medications, please contact your veterinarian.