The maintenance of a healthy BW requires that an appropriate amount of energy is consumed to meet the basal metabolic needs of an animal and to replace the energy the animal expends during physical activity. This MER is calculated in dogs as an exponential function of BW, adjusted by a constant that is related to a subjectively determined amount of typical daily activity. However, there is considerable between-dog variation with regard to the amount of typical daily activity. For example, the National Research Council provides recommendations ranging from 95 kcal•kg of BW0.75 for inactive pet dogs to 200 kcal•kg of BW0.75 for active pet Great Danes.1 Investigators in 1 study2 found that activity constants ranged from 65.1 to 119.6 in 55 pet dogs that maintained BW (within 2%) over a 10-week period. Investigators in another studya found that activity constants ranged between 60.8 and 197.6 in 48 pet dogs that maintained BW (within 10%) over a 12-month period. Hence, the variation in individual MER is attributable, at least in part, to differences in the activity of individual dogs. The National Research Council acknowledges this by including the caveat that the 2006 maintenance energy guidelines should be considered only as a starting point for the assessment of the requirements for each dog.1
The ability to accurately record activity in dogs and to incorporate this information into predictions of daily MER would provide a means by which owners could better establish the correct food ration for their pets. However, it should be mentioned that the accuracy of existing predictive equations for use in estimating RER is poor, with individual requirements reported to vary between 48 and 114 kcal•kg of BW0.75.1 Therefore, the ability to separately characterize the activity component of MER and to use it to refine predictive models would provide only a small step toward removing the disparity between predicted and actual MER. Nonetheless, improvements to predictive equations for MER are a desirable goal because the prevalence of obesity in the dog population in studies3,4 conducted in various regions of the world has been estimated as 20% to 40%, which suggests that a large proportion of dogs are routinely overfed, compared with their individual MER.
Considerable data on humans are available to suggest that triaxial accelerometers, which record acceleration in all 3 orthogonal planes, provide an accurate record of movement and are useful tools in the prediction of daily MER.5–7 More recently, such devices were found to be suitable for in-home monitoring of activity in dogs.8,9 Consequently, the opportunity exists to use accelerometers as a means of quantifying the amount of activity in dogs and to use these data to calculate the individual MER in a more objective manner. This is in contrast to the current situation whereby recommendations are made for subpopulations of animals on the basis of subjective assessment of activity.
The purpose of the study reported here was to investigate the amount of activity, as determined by use of a triaxial accelerometer, as a predictor of MER in healthy adult dogs. Our hypothesis was that the inclusion of activity data from an accelerometer could improve the accuracy of predictive models of MER constructed solely on the basis of BW.
Maintenance energy requirement
Resting energy requirement
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