The rules of nutrition for dogs
Speaking of dogs nutrition we can’t avoid thinking to the best option… the natural diet. Something we’d use for the last 13.000 years… Natural diet must be balanced of course, but to do so it doesn’t require so much effort.
To draw up a balanced diet we need some guidelines that will then be integrated with assessments of individual dog. As you understand it is not possible to create a single table food for every dog … but we will try to realize the best compromised solution😊. The difficulty in doing so is on the variety of differences that exist between dog and dog including, subjectivity (every living being is a universe unto itself), age (puppy, adult, senior), weight (increased weight increases the needs), race (toy and small sizes have a fast metabolism, while large and giant sizes have a slow metabolism), health condition (diabetes – intolerance – trauma- allergies – and others).
Daily calorie consumption of dogs
Let’s start to consider that the daily calorie consumption may vary according to:
- Physical Activity [Sedentary (1hour) – Normal (3 hours) – Hard (> 4 hours) – Working dog (> 6hours)]
- Condition Weight (Normal Weight-Obese-Underweight)
- Puppy (growth period 1-3 months, 4-6 months, etc.)
- Intact or neutered / spayed
Calculate the food amount for your dog
Lot of time the indications of the quantity (in grams) of food to be given to the dog are based on the percentage of your dog weight ranging from 2.5% (giant size) to 4% (toy) with an average of 3%.
In principle it can be good, but there are so many other factors that can affect the calculation, not least, the kind of food we put in bowl. If we would like to exaggerate the last concept, you just think that 300 grams of pork have the same intake of Kcal of 680 grams of sole or halibut …
So why instead of going to “flatter rate” calculation, we do not follow the basic rules of nutrition?
How to calculate the requirement of caloric intake?
We must consider that the body has a need for calorie intake that can be summarized like this: basal metabolism (amount of calories necessary to the function of organs at rest) + Thermogenesis (metabolic process of heat production by the body) + Consumption energy (all those calories that will be used by the body to perform physical activities, from a simple walk to a wild ride for hours and hours, milk production, etc. …).
We start from the calculation of the calorie needs, we divide the macronutrients in the appropriate percentages. I use different variants according to the above differences, but to give an example for an adult dog with normal weight and from medium to low activity I use the following: Proteins 60% Carbohydrates 20%, fat 10%, vegetables 18% and Fruit 2% and after the choice of the food I make sure all micronutrients quantities are adequate respect the minimum suggested by AAFCO. For the actual quantities needed (which vary from case to case, especially for proteins and carbohydrates) refer you to others articles
For human diets nutritionists do the exercise that I use to set the diet of my dogs.
Daily caloric requirement
I calculate the daily caloric intake needs of my dog based upon the guidelines of the WSAVA World Small Animal Veterinary Association (the link https://www.wsava.org/Guidelines), drawing up a list of foods including those that are readily available – are suitable to my budget – are well tolerated by my dog; I deduce from the single food the organoleptic component and then everithing is reduced to a “simple” mathematical calculation.
Nutrition of dogs. Technology helps
As a good “nerd” I obviously developed an algorithm that automatically does everything I talk about. Details here:
And here you can access it and use it for your dog:
- I made a calculation that gives me, based on the weight of my dog, the recommended calorie intake according to the WASVA guidelines. The I add the following multipliers To archive the right Kcal required for that particular dog.
- Depending on the size of the dog (Small, Medium, Large) I entered the metabolic multiplying factor (The metabolism changes from breed to breed).
- Factors depending on the type (adult / underweight, obese / spayed / neutered, etc etc).
- I entered based on the dog activity the caloric expenditure factor. Sedentary lifestyle / regular physical activity / vigorous physical activity.
- Finally, the multiplicative factor depending on the ambient temperature.
- The calculation takes into account (of course) the distribution of all those important values to calculate, carbohydrate-protein-fat-vitamins, minerals etc.; and the distribution of them. Which can vary according to the dog.
I will tell you a secret … I had to create 5 different algorithms with 3 sub-calculations to archive so. That’s was necessary to draw up the appropriate proportions according to different kind of nutritional needs that exist between: normal weight adult dog (underweight and overweight); intact dog or neutered / sterilized; older dogs with no particular disease … I know, the obsession verges 😊
However, I initially created this spreadsheet for personal use, then I decide to publish here on the Blog. But I wish to clarify that only it needs to be a yardstick for judgment and realize if we are in line with the general indications or some evident discrepancy is present. You can make a tailored diet of your dog, but I recommend you to share it with your veterinarian, whom should knows of a particular health condition of your dog.
Puppies and nursing dogs
Puppies and pregnant / nursing dogs have been deliberately left them out from this automatic calculator because for these “protected” categories you should carefully evaluate the needs that can vary greatly depending on the dog. As an example, the energy needs for a dog in gestation after 4 weeks increases exponentially as the needs in terms of food, but if a calcium-rich diet is desirable in a certain period of gestation, is harmful in another. We’ll talk about them in a different, dedicated article.
Clearly the biggest challenge was to produce a database that would take in account all the above and apply that with the automation of the spreadsheet … and to be honest I am proud of the result.
Remember that sudden changes in a diet are never healthy for any living organism. Make sure that the changes are not immediate but gradual. It’s good to take note on the reactions that the new diets develop after about 4 weeks (except of course in cases of allergies), so it is best to wait for some time and observe the reaction of your little friends.
Look at your dog
I would said that it’s too obvious that: if you give a certain amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat and your dog gets too much weight, you will be aware that you should recalculate the diet perhaps decreasing the amounts … say that, only you can recalibrate perfectly according to the reaction your loved pet.
At the end is going to be your dog telling you if it’s okay or not. So, what you put in the bowl? You just have to learn to observe and understand.
When we talk about dog nutrition, we face a primary topic of importance to the health of our four-legged friends. Then a vet check is advisable at the beginning of the diet, after six months and after a year, just to see if you are moving in the right direction (especially regarding the concept of any supplements additions).
The balance diet software
In the calculator I mentioned above you will have a list of foods “sample” I have chosen to formulate the diet for a subject of a year and half of medium size which performs average physical activity. For this specific case I used the nutrient ratio 60% protein, 20% carbohydrates (including Vegetable and Fruit 18% 2%), 20% fats.
If you are interested in trying out the spreadsheet and want to use it, putting the data of your dog and the proportions you feel are most appropriate … do yourself by clicking here and leave a comment to share your opinion. If perhaps you’re interested only to know which are the quantities of Vitamines and Minerals your dog food should contain click here.
Meanwhile, I suggest you to read also the rest of the articles devoted to the subject of dogs nutrition, to be aware of what is behind the creation of a balanced diet.
Ciao! Sono Alessio Palleschi
La mia passione per la cinofilia, che mi segue da quasi 40 anni, mi ha portato negli ultimi tempi a voler aiutare sempre più persone a creare un rapporto migliore con i propri cani, a gestire e far crescere il proprio cane nel migliore dei modi in completa autonomia. Esplora gli articoli, le guide e gli approfondimenti che ho pubblicato su questo Blogdog!