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Macronutrient intake of dogs, self-selecting diets varying in composition offered ad libitum

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posted on 2023-05-03, 13:52 authored by Mark Roberts, Emma Bermingham, Nick Cave, Wayne Young, Catherine McKenzie, David Thomas
The diet of the domestic dog has changed significantly from that of its wolf ancestor, with to date only two studies having examined macronutrient self-selection in dogs. Whilst the first focused solely on protein intake, determining an intake of 30% metabolisable energy (ME), the second investigated dietary protein, fat and carbohydrate (PFC), indicating an intake ratio of 30:63:7% by energy. This study’s aim was to further elucidate macronutrient intake by providing greater macronutrient range, energy content, and to investigate over a longer duration than previous studies. Fifteen adult dogs were given access to three wet diets providing 500% of daily ME, twice daily over 10 days. The diets were nutritionally complete and formulated using the same four ingredients in different proportions to supply high levels of protein (58% ME), fat (86% ME) or carbohydrate (54% ME). Overall fat and carbohydrate consumption significantly declined from 6,382 to 917 kcals per day (p < 0.001) and 553 to 214 kcals day−1 (p < .01) respectively. Protein intake, however, remained constant over the study and ranged from 4,786 to 4,156 kcals day−1. Such results impacted on percentage total energy intake, with fat decreasing from 68% to 52% (p < .001) and protein increasing from 29% to 44% (p < .01). Our findings suggest that dogs still possess a “feast or famine” mentality, wherein energy dense fat is prioritised over protein initially. With continued feeding over 10 days, a transition to a more balanced energy contribution from both macronutrients is evident. The study also shows that given the option, dogs do not select carbohydrate to be a significant portion of the diet. The health implications of such dietary selection are of interest.


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© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition Published by Blackwell Verlag GmbH This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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Journal title

Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition




Roberts, M. T., Bermingham, E. N., Cave, N. J., Young, W., McKenzie, C. M., & Thomas, D. G. (2018). Macronutrient intake of dogs, self-selecting diets varying in composition offered ad libitum. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 102(2), 568–575. doi:10.1111/jpn.12794

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