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Evaluation of calorie density and feeding directions for commercially available diets designed for weight loss in dogs and cats

Deborah E. Linder DVM1 and Lisa M. Freeman DVM, PhD, DACVN2
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

Abstract

Objective—To determine range of calorie density and feeding directions for commercially available diets designed for weight management in dogs and cats.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—93 diets (44 canine diets and 49 feline diets) that had a weight management claim with feeding directions for weight loss or implied weight management claims.

Procedures—Calorie density was collected from product labels or by contacting manufacturers. Recommended feeding directions for weight loss were compared with resting energy requirement (RER) for current body weight by use of a standard body weight (36.4 kg [80 lb] for canine diets and 5.5 kg [12 lb] for feline diets).

Results—Calorie density for the 44 canine diets ranged from 217 to 440 kcal/cup (median, 301 kcal/cup) and from 189 to 398 kcal/can (median, 310 kcal/can) for dry and canned diets, respectively. Calorie density for the 49 feline diets ranged from 235 to 480 kcal/cup (median, 342 kcal/cup) and from 78 to 172 kcal/can (median, 146 kcal/can) for dry and canned diets, respectively. Recommended calorie intake for weight loss in dogs ranged from 0.73 to 1.47 × RER (median, 1.00 × RER) and for weight loss in cats ranged from 0.67 to 1.55 × RER (median, 1.00 × RER). Diets ranged from $0.04 to $1.11/100 kcal of diet (median, $0.15/100 kcal of diet).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Wide variation existed in recommended calorie intake, kilocalories, and cost for diets marketed for weight loss in pets. This variability could contribute to challenges of achieving successful weight loss in pets.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Linder's present address is VCA South Shore Animal Hospital, 595 Columbian St, Weymouth, MA 02190.

Presented in abstract form at the Nestlé Purina Nutrition Forum, St Louis, October 2008.

Address correspondence to Dr. Freeman (lisa.freeman@tufts.edu).