When determining what an animal should be fed, the first consideration generally is the number of calories, or energy requirement for that animal. We can
calculate the basal energy requirement for animals by the mathematical calculation (weight [kg])0.75. This is the energy necessary for basic life function, such
as breathing and brain and enzyme activity, and assumes the animal is completely motionless. In humans, just being awake, even if you are lying perfectly
still, increases your energy requirement. Obviously the more useful value is the
maintenance energy requirement, or the amount of calories required for basic
function plus a normal level of activity. This is calculated as (weight [kg])0.75

  1. Animals fed this amount should be able to maintain their body weight
    with normal activity. This calculation assumes the animal is not growing and
    does not have the lower metabolic rate associated with older age and is therefore most useful for animals ranging in age from 3 to 7 years. Smaller-breed
    dogs can be maintained with a lower number of calories earlier in life than can
    large- or giant-breed dogs because they complete growth earlier in life. Protein
    content in a maintenance diet generally is about 13% to 19%. Calories from the
    protein are calculated, and the diet is balanced with fat and carbohydrates to
    meet the energy requirements; generally carbohydrates provide 40% to 50% of
    the total energy in the ration. The foodstuffs used to provide the protein, fats,
    and carbohydrates are analyzed to determine the vitamin and mineral content,
    and compounds are added as necessary to balance the diet. Calcium and phosphorus are balanced in a ratio from 0.8:1 to 1.5:1. Feeding trials are then performed to ensure that the animals eat the food well, maintain weight and body
    condition, and digest the food properly.
    Different individuals have different metabolic rates. The best way to know
    whether a dog is getting the appropriate amount of a diet is to monitor the animal’s body condition (Figure 1-6). Body condition score is assessed by evaluating how easily the ribs are palpated and how evident the waist and abdominal tuck are in a standing animal. It has been demonstrated that those animals
    maintained slightly thin had a later onset of chronic diseases, less severe osteoarthritis when aged, and longer median life span than did dogs maintained
    with a higher body condition score.

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