ENERGY NEEDS Dogs need a certain amount of energy to sustain the normal activities of their daily lives. Growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise all increase these normal energy requirements. Generally measured in terms of calories, energy comes from three major dietary components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Omnivorous animals get some of their energy from carbohydrates, which include sugars, starches, and dietary fibers. The major sources of carbohydrates in commercial dog foods are cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs. So-called absorbable carbohydrates, including glucose and fructose, can be directly absorbed and do not need to be digested by enzymes. Digestible carbohydrates are readily broken down by intestinal tract enzymes. Fermentable carbohydrates include certain starches and dietary fibers that pass undigested through the small intestine to the colon, where they are fermented by microbes into short-chain fatty acids and gases. Some studies suggest that fermentable fibers may aid in the regulation of blood glucose concentrations and enhance immune function. Nonfermentable
fibers, such as cellulose and wheat bran, contribute little in terms of energy or nutrition and are primarily used to decrease caloric intake of the overweight animal.
This information is based on recommendations from the 2006 release of Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. The report contains useful information for companion animal nutritionists, veterinarians, scientists in industry and academe, regulators, pet owners and anyone with an interest in the health and welfare of these important animals. To order the report, contact the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or http://www.nap.edu.