Pet Caloric Requirements and RERPets’ energy (Calorie) intake needs to maintain a healthy weight for their life stage and depends upon several factors. First, the energy to perform essential body functions like digestion, respiration, heart functions, brain functions, etc. (Resting Energy Requirements or RER), which can be calculated by multiplying the animal’s body weight in kilograms raised to the ¾ power by 70, for example, a 10kg (22lb) adult neutered dog of healthy weight needs RER = 70(10kg)3/4 ≈ 400 Calories/day. One also can use the charts below to estimate resting calorie needs.
Table 1. Known life stages and corresponding factors used to estimate daily energy needs for dogs.
=1.6 x RER
=1.8 x RER
=1.2-1.4 x RER
=1.0 x RER for ideal weight
=1.2-1.8 x RER for ideal weight
Active, working dogs
=2.0-5.0 x RER
Puppy 0-4 months
=3.0 x RER
Puppy 4 months to adult
= 2.0 x RER
Determining How Much Food to Feed
Treats Count as Calories
When feeding treats in a diet it is important to calculate them into the daily caloric intake, they are calories! Most of us are guilty of sneaking a tasty table scrap to our pets during or after dinner. While there is not anything inherently wrong with giving your pet an occasional morsel left on your plate, there are some very good reasons to limit your handouts to treats made for dogs. Giving dogs a bit of leftover lean meat, non-buttered vegetables, and a little rice will not cause problems, but unfortunately, many people do not stop there.
Here are charts of common pet treats from Royal Canin to help you determine if you are over feeding with treats.
Overview of Pet Feeding
Choose a high-quality food and look at the recommendations on the label. Remember, these feeding recommendations are simply guidelines, not absolutes. There is often a wide range listed and there is little consistency in feeding guidelines between brands. You must consider the following, and adjust the food amount accordingly:
- The actual calorie content of the food
- Your pet's weight (and projected target weight if necessary). Ask your veterinarian if you're not sure about an ideal weight for your pet
- Your pet's activity level
- Other environmental variables (temperature)
- Any additional calories from treats or table foods
- Remember, most pets are overfed and under-exercised - so, if in doubt about how much to feed initially, feed a little less
Kristi May, MS, CVPM, LVT, AHT, BS, ABCDT
White House Animal Hospital 615-672-0357