The daily maintenance energy requirement of a healthy adult dog includes the metabolic demands of basic life processes and energy expended for thermo-regulation, assimilation of nutrients from the diet, and physical activity. This last component of daily energy expenditure, voluntary physical activity, can vary considerably among individual animals. Generally, feeding directions on pet food labels or recommendations provided by veterinary health professionals are determined on the basis of predictive equations. These equations have been derived directly or indirectly from data collected by use of kenneled dogs in research conditions. Currently, there are only preliminary data quantifying the energy expenditure of free-living pet dogs; therefore, the equations currently in use for predicting energy requirements of dogs have not been validated for the purpose for which they are most commonly used.
Pet dogs generally are housed in environments that differ considerably from those of kenneled dogs. In addition, the environments of pet dogs can vary substantially among households. Furthermore, the daily routine of kenneled dogs typically is uniform regardless of the day of the week, which is in contrast to that of pet dogs, which may vary from day to day and can be influenced by the activities of their owners. Also, the kinds of activities in which pet dogs participate are likely to be much more variable and uncontrolled, compared with those of dogs in a laboratory setting. The ability to quantify activity could lead to a better understanding of the energy expenditure of pet dogs and the validity of the currently used predictive equations.
An accelerometer-based device that can continuously measure the intensity, frequency, and duration of movement for extended periods has been investigated for use in monitoring the activity of pet dogs. In another study1 conducted by our research group, we found that there is no significant impact of signalment or body conformation on the mean activity counts recorded by this monitor when the activity is adequately controlled and all dogs perform the same movements. Furthermore, data collection for a period of 7 days provides relatively stable estimates of activity in dogs and includes the days (ie, weekends) with the highest potential for changes in activity.2
The objectives of the study reported here were to investigate whether an activity monitor could be used to differentiate the intensity of activity of pet dogs through the establishment of cut points for activity counts (eg, optimal activity counts) that could be used to discriminate among sedentary, light, and moderate to vigorous activities and to use these cut points to determine the percentage of time that pet dogs spend in activities of differing intensity.
Area under the curve
Receiver operating characteristic
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