Providing accurate feeding recommendations remains an ongoing challenge for pet food companies and the feeding guides are intended only as a starting point. Given the many variables affecting the energy requirements of an individual pet, no single formula will allow us to calculate the energy requirements for all dogs or cats (Haunser 1991).
However, the equations provided in nutritional guidelines can predict a theoretical average for a specific group of animals. Using this information as a starting point, each individual animal should be fed to their ideal body condition score. PFMA body condition charts can be found on www.pfma.org.uk/pet-size-o-meter. Regular weighing of the animal and adjusting their food to their need based on weight gain/loss, by a veterinary professional, is also critical.
Pet owners are advised to use accurate kitchen scales to weight the food to the exact amount recommended by the manufacturer or their vet. Feeding based on volume or estimating the amount of food is subject to error. Manufacturers’ feeding guides and all the calculations in this fact sheet are based on the food’s weight (in grams).
The range of equations for different activity levels given in this fact sheet are based on Fediaf Nutritional Guidelines. However, many owners are likely to over-estimate their dog’s exercise levels. This would lead into selecting an equation that is too high for their pet and therefore overfeeding them. In light of that, for the majority of pet dogs that only walk on the lead or are likely to be active for up to one hour per day, it is recommended to use the lowest equation (95) from Table 2 of the fact sheet.
Regular weighing of the pet and adjusting to their need based on weight gain/loss is recommended.
Carbohydrate is a general term in biochemistry and mainly includes sugars, starch and dietary fibre.
Sugars and starches are sources of energy for cats and dogs as they have the specific enzymes to break them down into smaller molecules, which can then be absorbed by the body.
Like the human, cats and dogs lack enzymes to break down dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is the indigestible part of food that comes from plant based ingredients. It has proven to have health benefits for dogs and cats and has two main components:
Most light diets have high levels of dietary fibre, compared to normal maintenance diets. Insoluble fibre promotes satiety but contributes no calories to the diet of cats and dogs. Soluble fibre is partially fermented, with the degree of fermentability varying with the type of fibre, and contributes some energy when broken down and absorbed by the body. This means the equations needed to calculate the energy content of light diets will be different from the equations used in this fact sheet. To avoid overestimating the energy value of a light pet food product, which could lead to underfeeding, please contact the manufacturer of the product for further details.
To calculate the daily energy requirements (DER), you can use formula 3 (for dogs) and formula 4 (for cats) as explained in the fact sheet.
Any scientific calculator has the ‘power’ button which is normally shown with one of these signs [X^y] or For example to work 10 to the power of 0.67 using a calculator;
You should get the answer 4.67.
You can also use the internet by typing ‘10 to the power of 0.67’ in your internet browser and you should see the same result.