Theoretical evaluation of risk for nutritional deficiency with caloric restriction in dogs

Vet Q. 2012;32(3-4):123-9. doi: 10.1080/01652176.2012.733079. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Background: Risk of nutrient deficiency in dogs during caloric restriction is not currently known, while obesity is a growing concern.

Objectives: To determine nutrients that might require further evaluation for the risk of deficiency during caloric restriction.

Animals and methods: Five commercially available canine diets, representing a range of caloric density (2900-4240 kcal/kg metabolizable energy), were assessed for potential nutrient inadequacy if fed to a hypothetical overweight dog. Caloric density and typical nutrient analysis for protein, amino acids, fat, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins were obtained from the manufacturer. Nutrient intake was calculated using ideal body weight for caloric intakes including 87, 79, 70, 61 and 52 kcal/kg(0.75) and compared with National Research Council recommended nutrient allowances (NRC-RA) for ideal weight.

Results: No diets were less than NRC-RA when compared to NRC-RA (/1000 kcal). The five evaluated diets varied in terms of which nutrients were less than NRC-RA and the degree of restriction required for this to occur. All diets had at least one essential nutrient less than NRC-RA at 79 kcal/kg(0.75)/day and multiple nutrients less than NRC-RA at 70 kcal/kg(0.75)/day. Choline and selenium were the nutrients most often affected by caloric restriction but others were less than the NRC-RA with caloric restriction.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to determine actual nutrient requirements in overweight dogs, and whether clinical nutrient deficiencies actually arise in vivo.

Clinical importance: Weight loss plans for overweight dogs (particularly those with very low-energy requirements) should include consideration for nutrient adequacy.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction / methods*
  • Caloric Restriction / veterinary
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / veterinary*
  • Overweight / drug therapy
  • Overweight / veterinary*
  • Weight Loss