Why have we made changes to your Puppy Feeding Guides?
The changes are being implemented in light of recent scientific studies investigating the energy requirements of puppies. We believe the changes will be beneficial for the health and wellbeing not just of puppies but also as they progress into adulthood.
The quantities of food given in a feeding guide are calculated to provide the right amount of energy (calories) to meet the energy requirements of growing puppies. Currently, a single universal equation, as set out in the National Research Council (NRC, 20061), is widely used for estimating the energy requirements of puppies. The ‘problem’ is that a number of recent studies 2-6 have shown that a ‘one size fits all’ equation is not the best approach since puppies of different breed sizes appear to have different energy requirements.
The studies have found that the NRC equation tends to overestimate the energy requirements which could result in puppies being offered too much food. Over-feeding can lead to problems such as rapid growth which can cause problems with skeletal development, especially in large breed puppies. It can also lead to excessive weight gain and obesity which are associated with detrimental effects on the health and lifespan of dogs.
What are the changes?
The main change is a reduction in the amount of food to offer, particularly for the younger age categories (< 6 months). There are also minor changes in the way the guides are presented in terms of the age and weight categories (see Box below).
To calculate these changes, we have used information and data published by a team of veterinary nutritionists that determined the energy intake and body weights of many breeds/sizes of privately-owned puppies during growth 6. Our new feeding guides now take into account differences in energy requirements between puppies of different expected mature body weights as well as the changes in energy requirements as puppies age.
Changes to Puppy Feeding Guides
The 2-6 months age category, which covers the period of most rapid growth, has been split out in the new guides to 2-4 and 4-6 months. You can see that the range of food amounts to offer is wider between 2-4 months compared to 4-6 months. This reflects that between 2-4 months, puppies have the highest energy requirements and most rapid period of growth. Between 4-6 months, and beyond, the rate of growth slows slightly and energy requirements decrease.
- National Research Council. (2006) Nutrient requirements of dogs and cats. National Academies Press: Washington, D.C., USA.
- Dobenecker, B., Endres, V. & Kienzle, E. (2013) Energy requirements of puppies of two different breeds for ideal growth from weaning to 28 weeks of age. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr, 97, 190-196.
- Brenten, T., Morris, P.J., Salt, C., Raila, J., Kohn, B., Brunnberg, L., Schweigert, F.J. & Zentek, J. (2014) Energy intake, growth rate and body composition of young Labrador retrievers and miniature Schnauzers fed different dietary levels of vitamin A. Br J Nutr, 111, 2104-2111.
- Alexander, J., Colyer, A., & Morris, P. (2017). Energy requirements for growth in the Yorkshire terrier. J Nutr Sci,6, E26. doi:10.1017/jns.2017.26
- Bradley, S., Alexander, J., Haydock, R., Bakke, A.M. & Watson, P. (2021) Energy requirements for growth in the Norfolk terrier. Animals 11(5), 1380. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051380
- Klein, C., Thes, M., Böswald, L.F. & Kienzle, E. (2019) Metabolisable energy intake and growth of privately owned growing dogs in comparison with official recommendations on the growth curve and energy supply. J Anim Phsiol Anim Nutr, 103, 1952-1958.
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