Canine Nutrition and Diet Information 4
The Proper Care and Feeding Of Your Dog
By Joe Bodewes, DVM
Table 1 (previous page) gives some
guidelines that nutritionists use for calculating caloric needs and
canine diet. This table is based upon a dog's Resting Energy
Requirements or RER. The RER is the basic amount of energy that a dog
would use in a day while remaining at rest. Any activity or variable
other than rest will require an increase in energy (RER) and an
increase in calories to meet the energy needs. Realize that these
numbers are not a reflection of maintenance calories but of resting
energy levels. For example, a normal adult dog with normal activity is
already at 1.6 times the resting energy requirement.
While this table does not tell us how much we need to feed our dog,
it does show the significant variability in canine diet requirements
based upon his activity. Remember that this table does not take into
account characteristics like breed differences, air temperature, and
coat insulation, which can additionally alter an individual dog's
energy requirement as much or more than any of the activities listed
How to feed your individual dog:
So where should you start? The first place to start is with the canine diet itself.
Feeding a poor quality pet product is never a good idea because in addition to actually being more expensive because of the increased quantities needed to fulfill nutritional requirements, it also produces more waste. It is also more likely to create digestive or behavioral problems. So, to begin, choose a high quality pet food and look at the recommendations on the label to get your starting point.
From there you need to have an accurate weight of the dog and a projected target weight, whether it is an adult on dog food or a growing puppy.
Look at the table above and get an
idea of your dog's activity level. Remember to factor in the other
environmental variables and any additional calories in the form of
treats or table foods, and adjust the starting amount accordingly. Ask
your veterinarian's opinion on what your dog's ideal weight should be
and factor that into your feeding amount. Remember that most dogs are
overfed and under exercised so, if in doubt, I usually tell people to
feed a little less. After you have started feeding the amount that you
have calculated that your dog needs, then you need to weigh your dog
at least monthly to determine if the amount fed is appropriate. If
necessary, increase or decrease the amount of food slightly until the
dog stays at his ideal weight. A handy trick for weighing your dog on
a bathroom scale is to weigh yourself while you hold the dog and then
weigh yourself without the dog and subtract the difference.
Adjusting to change
As you can observe from the table above, the amount of food that
you feed your dog will change throughout your dog's life. Most weight
problems develop slowly and will often begin when a dog goes through
the transition from a growing puppy to an adult. The adult dog's
appetite is often greater than his need. Another time during a dog's
life at which weight gain occurs is when an adult dog becomes a senior
and his activity level decreases. By being aware of the need to adjust
your dog's calories and performing periodic weight checks, you can
avoid overfeeding during these problematic transition times.
Knowing how much pet product to feed your dog can be a confusing
problem. Start out with a quality food, note the feeding
recommendations on the bag, add or decrease the amount fed depending
on your dog's activity level and housing environment, and then start
his canine diet at that amount. From there, by carefully monitoring
the dog's weight and making adjustments as needed, you can keep your
dog at his perfect and healthiest possible weight.
Hand; Thatcher; Remillard; Roudebush. Small Animal Clinical
Nutrition 4th Edition. Walsworth Publishing Company.
Lewis L.; Morris, M.; Hand, M. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 3rd
Edition. Mark Morris Associates.
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