Dog Nutritional Requirements

Hey all

I am a student at the University of Malta currently doing my own research into the nutritional needs of dogs. I have been looking for a minimum, and recommended, daily intake of macro and micro-nutrients for dogs, but I’ve only been able to find calorie intake figures. How other factors, such as physical activity and age, affect daily intake is also elusive.

I’m aware of AAFCO’s dog food nutrient profiles, however this only covers the nutritional standards required by pet food, and not the exact nutritional needs of dogs.

Do such figures exist? If so, can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance!

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am sorry that I cannot help you but I have written to the website owner about your query. David is very busy and I know that he likes to consider things carefully before replying. I would therefore suggest that you keep an eye on this thread - it might be a few days before he can get back to you. Hopefully it won’t be too long.

Thanks so much!

And don’t worry about the wait, I’m in no rush.

Many thanks Dottie but I have a few minutes now.

Hi Dan and welcome on board. There are indeed some figures available from the National Research Council in the US - see the link below for a brief summary and links to the relevant papers. These figures form the basis for the majority of AAFCO’s and FEDIAF’s recommended nutritional levels for pet foods.

FEDIAF’s current guidelines are available to download here:

There is some controversy surrounding all of these figures, however. For example, the fact that some of the largest pet food manufacturers have an active role within the NRC, AAFCO and FEDIAF and the fact that the figures are based on feeding the fairly low quality, carb heavy foods that these companies tend to produce. No allowance is made for nutrient quality, cooking method etc so there is a lot of speculation over whether the figures would necessarily apply to the likes of raw foods or the new wave of high end, meat rich foods.

Other than that, I’m afraid there just haven’t been any other large scale studies so we all have a lot of unanswered questions at the moment.

This is exactly what I needed!

I actually just ordered the NRC book but was hoping there was some more recent data (it was published ten years ago after all).

It’s been quite surprising to discover the lack of information available on such basic aspects of canine nutrition, especially when considering the prevalence of dogs as pets and the size of the industry.

Many thanks for your help here and all the good work you’re doing :slight_smile:

Im not sure if I’m allowed to add this comment, so please remove if not appropriate.

Following on from David’s comment, there is an industry standard formula for calculating the daily calorie requirements for puppies and dogs with a final multiplier for growth stage, activity levels etc. We have found that this formula doesn’t quite work on a very high meat content food… We guess that is because the hard to digest “bulking agents” added still have a calorie value when tested, but dogs can’t utilise all of it. We have modified this formula for our own use by a factor of 50/70 It’s not very scientific but seems to work based on our experience

I am somewhat puzzled by calories and am hoping that someone can enlighten me. From the link above (rdafor dogsblogspot) I noticed this: “The lowest calculations for caloric intake, for sedentary dogs, is recommended at 95 Kcal per K of body weight.”
I know from experience of my own dogs who easily gain weight that if I gave anywhere near that (it comes to 760 k cal) they would be very happy but enormous! In reality, the maximum that I can give my dogs and maintain a healthy weight is circa 400 k cal so I just can’t see that as being accurate. However, all dogs are different. The WSAVA chart seems closest.

I’ve done a quick Internet search and the websites vary quite a bit although they say that their figures are for guidance only. A lot of products don’t have the calorie count on the label although quite a few of the ones that are weight control/light do include these figures.

The WSAVA guide seems good, but as always its not quite that simple.

The industry standard base calculation of calorie per day requirementsis ([weight in kg] ^ 0.75 ) x 70 … WSAVA seem to have used x 50 which is in keeping with a higher meat content

Where ^ means “to the power of” ( xy on some calculators)

Then there is a final multiplier

X3 for puppies under 70% of adult height (30% of adult weight)
X2 for older puppies
X1.8 for entire adults
X1.6 for neutered adults
X2 to X6 for working dogs
And reductions for less active dogs, as low as X1 or less for those in cage rest

I think there were a few others too… Lactating bitches need more for example

These numbers are approximate and may need tweaking a little for each individual to account for exact activity levels etc.

Sorry it’s not easy to show the formula in plain text

Divide the final answer by the calorie content of the food in kcal/g to get the grammes/day equivalent.

Thank you for the explanation and for the comment re the WSAVA calculation. I can see where the discrepancies occur (I think).