Our scientific heritage is grounded in pushing the boundaries of understanding pet nutrition. Our research focuses on finding the optimal balance between nutrients that can allow both cats and dogs to thrive at any moment in their lives.
Our researchers investigated safe levels of phosphorus and the importance of its source when included in cats' diets.
Our research has increased our understanding of how dogs handle dietary calcium, establishing a new safe upper limit for this essential mineral in adult dogs' diets.
Prof. Anne Marie Bakke is one of our nutrition experts at WALTHAM. She joined us from an academic position at Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, NMBU in Oslo.
"For over 20 years, I used WALTHAM research papers when teaching as I recognised their consistently high scientific and ethical standards, so joining their research team was a logical career move for me. Today, I am leading studies that have the potential to improve the lives of billions of pets across the world. How amazing is that? Our work on phosphorus is a fantastic example of this." Prof. Anne Marie Bakke
Biomarkers & microbiome
Biomarkers are indirect measures associated with a particular condition or trait. Blood, saliva or urine samples could predict the likelihood of a pet developing a life-threatening disease in the future. They could also flag a developing health problem at a moment when it's usually very difficult for veterinarians to spot. Our scientists are conducting trials and combing through vast databases to hunt out these small but mighty measures. These subtle changes that flag differences in a pet’s physiology, biochemistry, genetics or microbiome underpin new diagnostic approaches, advancing preventive pet health.
A new AI-driven tool can now predict if a cat will develop chronic kidney disease two years ahead of clinical diagnosis.
The first-of-its-kind study to identify the changes in puppies' gut microbiome during their first few weeks of life. These insights can help support puppies' health and wellbeing as they grow, develop and change environments.
We demonstrated that the diet fed to kittens influences their gut microbiome and its potential function. Understanding the short, or long term, implications of these early differences may help shape health later in life.
"Since so much is still unknown about the complex, interconnected community of the gut microbiome, the biggest challenge is asking the right research questions that give us clear answers. This is really important for the health of our pets as we build our knowledge about this hidden, but critical population." David Wrigglesworth, Senior Research Scientist
Researchers have been investigating the mechanisms defining the human-animal bond for over 30 years. We are enabling robust studies that shed light on this relationship, so we can better understand when and where people and pets can benefit from these interactions. Our research partners are exploring how pets could help children with disabilities, students in classrooms, reduce anxiety and loneliness or help improve our social connections.
The first known study to examine and show the longer-term effects of therapeutic horseback riding for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Animal-assisted stress intervention may help university students at high risk of academic stress and failure to concentrate, learn and remember information, feel relaxed and accepted.
"It’s important that we have a better understanding of the human-animal bond, and establishing an evidence base about how, when and under what circumstances to put pets and people together in a way that is safe and beneficial to both species." Dr. Darren Logan, Head of Research
Healthy body weight
Being at a healthy body weight is important for a pet's health and quality of life. Overweight or obese pets are more prone to developing a number of diseases and health conditions, and can have a shorter lifespan. We're working hard to make a positive impact on the growing issue of pet obesity, uncovering scientific insights to empower pet owners and veterinary professionals with the knowledge and tools to keep pets in healthy body condition at all stages of their lives.
In collaboration with the University of Liverpool, we discovered that overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lives than those at a normal body weight.
Our Puppy Growth Charts, based on measurements from millions of healthy puppies' body weights, were launched for veterinary professionals and owners.
"We know a lot about the causes of pet obesity, however, we have not made progress in stemming the increase in the number of overweight pets. To address this significant challenge will require all of us to think and act differently. That's why Mars and WALTHAM have put pet obesity at the top of our agenda and launching new initiatives to support this problem." Dr. Richard Butterwick, Global Nutrition Advisor
Welfare & behaviour
Improving and understanding how we can support the health of our pets is an important way in which we can deliver on our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. But it doesn't stop there. We are also advancing our knowledge as to what we can do to improve their welfare and understand their behaviour - the only way in which animals can communicate with us. It is our responsibility to listen to and understand what they are telling us, so we can build stronger human-animal bonds for everyone.
With our partners at Eotvos Lorand University, we found for the first time that puppies can learn by watching other dogs or people. These findings can help improve dog training programmes.
Stress Coat®, a water conditioner product, may improve the welfare of ornamental fish during transport.
"One aspect of my role is to develop innovative approaches to measure pet food preference and improve pet wellbeing with my team. I am proud to be contributing to our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS by applying my expertise in animal behaviour." Dr Tammie King, Applied Behaviour Team Leader
There is so much information coded in DNA. We can use this to understand the microbiome and ask questions like - which bacteria live in the intestines of our pets? How do they change with different diets? We can also use genetics to find out about what lies in their own DNA, such as a pet’s breed ancestry. Pets' DNA can also reveal genetic biomarkers that may be associated to certain diseases. Understanding all these different elements can help veterinarians and pet owners provide the best care for their pets.
Dogs are one of the most diverse animal species on earth from Whippets to Newfoundlands, Chihuahuas to Great Danes. We helped identify the gene that defines dogs' size.
We identified the genetic markers linked to the physical traits of dog breeds, such as size and body shape, and potentially some behaviours.
"I focus on untangling the huge genetic code data sets that are generated by the research teams. I love exploring what we can find out from DNA, but the exciting part is knowing that my work has the potential to help pets all around the world." Dr. Zoe Lonsdale, Bioinformatician
We can ask the right questions and open up new research paths to preventive pet health thanks to data from the millions of pets benefitting from our pet care services and products.
Data from over 50,000 dogs of 12 popular dogs breeds revealed that overweight pets were more likely to have shorter lives than those at an ideal body weight
Data from over 750,000 visits and 150,000 cats were used to develop a new AI-driven diagnostic tool that can predict chronic kidney disease in cats two years ahead of clinical diagnosis.
"As a data scientist, I look for challenges where the solution can bring value to pets across the globe. Often these are complex and require vast data sets to answer. As part of a large pet care business means that we have the expertise to understand a problem, the data to investigate it and the potential to address it." Ciaran O'Flynn, Data Science Research Manager
Understanding the smells and tastes that appeal to our pets is challenging, since they can't communicate their experiences directly to us. Our researchers are using innovative ways to measure a pet's appreciation of different aromas and flavours. Coupled with laboratory-based food chemistry and advanced genetic approaches, we are focused on improving the palatability of pet food, even for the fussiest of eaters.
We discovered that cats can't taste sugar, because they lack the sweet taste receptor in their mouths.
We showed that dogs have evolved a unique combination of smell receptors in their noses, tuned to the most important aromas in their environment.
"Flavour preferences in pets can be really different to people. This means we can't apply a lot of the learnings from studies on people and, of course, animals can't talk. It all makes leading my team in this area full of different and unusual research challenges. I love that. It makes the successes feel even sweeter." Dr. Scott McGrane, Research Manager