Which Factors Determine the Energy Needs of a Dog?
Body weight or size of the dog
Large dogs require more energy than small dogs. The bodyweight of the dog is, of course, the most important factor. It is important to know that energy requirements do not increase linearly. Small dogs have a higher metabolism and a relatively larger body surface (factor determining energy loss). Therefore, small dogs need relatively more energy as expressed per kg of body weight.
The energy requirements for maintenance can be calculated with the following formula:
ME = 132kcal X BW0.75
ME = metabolic energy requirement
BW = body weight in kg
(BW)0.75 = metabolic weight
Additional energy is required for physical exercise. Dogs doing a lot of physical exercises have higher energy requirements. The amount of energy necessary for exercise is dependent on the intensity and length of the activity. Greyhound racing is mostly a short time exercise and increases energy requirements with only 10 to 20%, while sledge hound racing is a long term exercise increasing the requirements with a factor 2 to 4.
Supplement for activity
Energy – protein
Minerals – vitamins
Requirements for maintenance
During breeding, additional requirements exist for new body tissue production and/or milk production:
- Gestation: nutritional requirements increase only in the second half of gestation (+/- 10% more energy/week).
- Lactation: during the lactation period, the requirements are enormously increased. At the top of lactation, the requirements are 3 to 4 times higher.
- Growth: During growth, supplementary energy is required for the production of new body tissues. Young pups at the beginning of growth need about twice as much energy as adult dogs of the same size. Once 40% of the adult body weight is reached, growing dogs still need 60% more energy than adults. When 80% of the adult weight is reached, energy requirements are 20% higher than adults.
The environment of the dog plays an important role. It is evident that dogs living in a small, heated apartment will require less energy than dogs housed in large outdoor kennels. Also, temperature and season are determinants. During winter months, outside housed dogs often eat double what they eat during the summer months.