Changed guidelines on energy requirements - Veterinary Practice
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Changed guidelines on energy requirements

Ian Williams in this fifth in a series from Royal Canin focusing on the latest knowledge on nutrients for cats and dogs looks at energy requirements and the recent changes to feeding guidelines…

ENERGY is constantly required by
all animals as it is needed for
growth and cell turnover as well as

All body functions such as
digestion and respiration also require
energy. This means that even a
animal lying
down in a
will still use
some energy.
The question
is how much
energy is

The pets we see in our consult
rooms today aren’t the same as those
we did 10 years ago – their energy
requirements have changed. An
increase in urbanisation, a decrease in
activity levels and the rise of neutering
have resulted in pet obesity becoming
an all too frequent issue.

There are many reasons why this
problem has increased in recent years.
Pet owners often fill the food bowl,
rather than measuring the exact
amount required with weighing scales.

Families regularly share the
responsibility of feeding their pet, with extras and treats becoming
commonplace and there is frequently
insufficient time and space for
exercise, coupled with owners rarely
checking their pet’s weight and body
condition score.

What we can do…

As a profession, there are several things we can do to help tackle this.
Most importantly, we can adapt caloric
content and encourage rationing.
However, alongside this, there will
always be variations that need to be
considered due to genetics/breed, age,
sexual status and a pet’s lifestyle and

For example, a Labrador uses less
energy on a daily basis than a Boxer.
Also, the requirements of a neutered
animal are generally lower, whereas a
growing puppy needs more energy
than an adult animal.

These considerations – alongside
discussion about a pet’s lifestyle and
daily exercise levels – should all be
covered with the owner during

In essence, the energy content of a
pet’s meal should cover its energy
needs. If the owner provides too much
energy by providing too much food, it
will increase the risk of obesity. Of
course, by controlling the diet, it is
possible to provide more or less

There are slight variations in the
amount of energy produced depending
on the source and quality of the
nutrients within a diet; however, it is
clear that fat provides more energy
than protein or carbohydrate: 1g of fat
will provide approximately 9kcal of
metabolisable energy (ME) compared
to 1g of protein or carbohydrate which
generates approximately 4kcal of ME.

This means that fat provides more
than double the ME of protein or

Feeding guidelines

In order to address the changing lifestyles of our pets, Royal Canin
recently took the decision to adjust the
daily recommended feeding guidelines
for cats and dogs.

The recommended daily allowance
for a 30kg dog is now 1,217kcal,
compared to the previous allowance of
1,692kcal per day. For a 5kg cat it has
decreased from 275kcal per day to
243kcal per day.

Previously the allowance
corresponded to 1-3 hours of daily
activity, whereas the new lower
guidelines better approximate the
reality of today’s pets. It is important
to remember that a guideline is just a
guideline and the exact ration required
will still vary from individual to

In summary, it is true to say that
whilst animal physiology hasn’t
changed, the lifestyles of our pets have.
The new feeding guidelines are a better
fit for the majority of the pet
population and it is the role of the
veterinary practice to aid these changes
with complementary rationing and
lifestyle advice.

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