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NRC Nutritional Requirements for Adult Dogs

Estimated reading time: 5 min

Adult dogs can regulate vitamins and nutrients, and their diet can achieve balance over time or daily. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) model or Prey Model Raw (PMR) diets provide guidelines on items to include in a raw diet to provide essential nutrients and recommended calories for optimal health.

Macronutrients for Adult Dogs

Macronutrients are the first piece in nutrition where they are necessary for optimal health. There are three primary macronutrients which include protein, lipids (fats), and carbohydrates. Each macronutrient is in nearly all foods and supply calories for energy.

Recommended Daily Allowances for Macronutrients

Macronutrients are a class of chemical compounds which are consumed in large quantities and provide the bulk of energy within the diet.

Proteins are large complex molecules composed of amino acids and are the main structural component of body tissue. Adult dogs do not have a nutritional requirement for protein because the body can synthesize new proteins with amino acids and nitrogen. However, adult dogs have specific requirements for amino acids, carbon skeletons, and nitrogen.

Protein supplied in food provides essential amino acids, carbon skeletons, and nitrogen to fulfill nutritional requirements. The primary role of protein is to supply amino acids for muscle and organ protein synthesis, the creation of enzymes, the creation of hormones, and energy.

Nutritional Research Council (NRC) provides the following protein recommendations for adult dogs 12 months and older per 1000kcal consumed:

Minimum: 20g
Recommended Allowance: 25g

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Fat provides nutritional compounds to supply adult dogs with energy, essential fatty acids (EFAs), and is a vehicle for nutrient absorption and transportation. Fat is the primary source of energy for dogs and providing a raw diet with sufficient amounts of fat is important to optimal health.

Nutritional Research Council (NRC) provides the following fat recommendations for adult dogs 12 months and older per 1000kcal consumed:

Recommended Allowance: 13.3g
Maximum: 82.5g

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Carbohydrates are another source of energy and supply the body with glucose once digested and metabolized. There are two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex – and the difference between the two are the number of sugar units. Complex carbohydrates include starchy and fibrous foods, whereas simple carbohydrates are in foods such as fruit.

Nutritional Research Council (NRC) does not provide carbohydrate recommendations for adult dogs, but they have a nutritional requirement for glucose. Carbohydrates easily supply glucose. However, if there is no supply of carbohydrates in the diet, glucose requirements can be met through precursor nutrients, glycogenic amino acids or glycerol from fats, through gluconeogenesis.

Although adult dogs do not have a nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, this does not mean the addition of carbs is not beneficial.

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Water accounts for a large portion of the total amount of food ingested in a normal raw diet. Water does not provide any nutritional value. However, water is an essential nutrient necessary for optimal canine health and nutrition.

Micronutrients for Adult Dogs

Additionally, puppies have different micronutrient requirements in comparison to adult dogs. Puppies have higher requirements for amino acids, fats, vitamins, and minerals in comparison to adult dogs. Therefore, there must be a supply of these nutrients in sufficient amounts in the diet.

Recommended Daily Allowances for Essential Nutrients

Nutritional Research Council (NRC) provides the following Recommended Allowances (RA) for adult dogs 12 months and older per 1000kcal consumed:

Nutrient RA Minimum Maximum
Arginine 0.88 g 0.70 g
Histidine 0.48 g 0.37 g
Isoleucine 0.95 g 0.75 g
Leucine 1.70 g 1.35 g
Lysine 0.88 g 0.79 g
Methionine 0.83 g 0.65 g
Methionine + Cystine 1.63 g 1.30 g
Phenylalanine 1.13 g 0.90 g
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine 1.85 g 1.48 g
Threonine 1.08g 0.85 g
Tryptophan 0.35 g 0.28 g
Valine 1.23 g 0.98 g

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Nutrients RA Minimum Maximum
Linoleic Acid 2.8 g 16.30 g
α-Linolenic Acid 0.11 g
Eicosapentaenoic + Docosahexaenoic Acid (EPA/DHA) 0.11 g 2.8 g

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Nutrient RA Minimum Maximum
Vitamin A 379 RE* 16,000 RE*
Vitamin D 3.4 mcg 20 mcg
Vitamin E 7.5 mg

* Vitamin A: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 micrograms (mcg) retinol

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Nutrient RA Minimum Maximum
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.56 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1.3 mg 1.05 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 4.25 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 3.75 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.375 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate & Folic acid) 67.5 mcg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) 8.75 mcg
Choline 425 mg

There is no determination for biotin requirements for puppies and adult dogs. However, gut microbes create about half of biotin requirements, and through there is a supply of the remaining requirements through the diet. Diets that include raw egg whites and antibiotics have a higher requirement for biotin.

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Nutrient RA Minimum Maximum
Calcium 1.0 g 0.5 g
Phosphorus 0.75 g 0.5 g
Magnesium 150 mg 45 mg
Potassium 1.0 g
Sodium 200 mg 75 mg
Chloride 300 mg

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

Nutrient RA Minimum Maximum
Iron 7.5 mg
Copper 1.5 mg
Zinc 15 mg
Manganese 1.2 mg
Selenium 87.50 mcg
Iodine 220 mcg 175 mcg

Data Source:
National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. National Academies Press, 2007.

When combining recommended allowances for essential nutrients with raw feeding ratio guidelines, a balanced raw diet using whole foods can be achieved to supply an adult dog with the appropriate nutrition to support optimal canine health and nutrition.

Raw Feeding Ratio Guidelines

A raw diet is divided into percentages, known as ratio guidelines, to provide an estimate on how much of each ingredient is needed. Ratios from BARF and PMR diets are guidelines for the amount of muscle meat, raw meaty bones, organs, vegetables, seeds, and fruit to include in a raw diet for an adult dog.

Similar to maintenance percentages, raw diet ratios are to be used as a guideline when selecting ingredients and creating a raw diet. Once maintenance percentages are calculated, ratio guidelines can be determined.

Example 1

Adult dog profile in english units:

6 Years Old

Moderate Activity

55 Pounds

Ideal Body Weight

1000 Daily Calories

18oz Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

Calculate ratio guidelines in english units:

PMR Ratios

18 x 0.8 = 14.4oz muscle meat
18 x 0.1 = 1.8oz edible bone
18 x 0.05 = 0.9oz liver
18 x 0.05 = 0.9oz other organ

BARF Ratios

18 x 0.7 = 12.6oz muscle meat
18 x 0.1 = 1.8oz edible bone
18 x 0.05 = 0.9oz liver
18 x 0.05 = 0.9oz other organ
18 x 0.07 = 1.26oz vegetables
18 x 0.02 = 0.36oz seeds/nuts
18 x 0.01 = 0.18oz fruit

Example 2

Adult dog profile in metric units:

6 Years Old

Moderate Activity

25 Kilograms

Ideal Body Weight

1000 Daily Calories

500g Intake

Estimated Daily Intake

Calculate ratio guidelines in metric units:

PMR Ratios

500 x 0.8 = 400g muscle meat
500 x 0.1 = 50g edible bone
500 x 0.05 = 25g liver
500 x 0.05 = 25g other organ

BARF Ratios

500 x 0.7 = 350g muscle meat
500 x 0.1 = 50g edible bone
500 x 0.05 = 25g liver
500 x 0.05 = 25g other organ
500 x 0.07 = 35g vegetables
500 x 0.02 = 10g seeds/nuts
500 x 0.01 = 5g fruit

Adapting Ratio Guidelines into a Balanced Diet

Ratio calculations provide a guideline on ingredients to include in a raw diet. Each ingredient provides essential nutrients to use when formulating a balanced raw diet for adult dogs.

Muscle Meat

The muscle meat portion of raw ratios assists in supplying protein, amino acids, fats, vitamins (water soluble B vitamins), and some minerals.

Raw Meaty Bones

The main role of the edible bone ratio is to supply calcium within a raw diet. Raw meaty bones provide muscle meat and edible bone which assists in supplying protein, amino acids, fats, and minerals (calcium and phosphorus).

Liver & Secreting Organs

The liver and other organ ratios assists in supplying protein, amino acids, vitamins (vitamin A and B vitamins), and minerals (iron and copper).

Vegetables, Seeds, Nuts, & Fruit

The vegetables, seeds, and fruit portion of raw ratios assists in supplying carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins (vitamin E and B vitamins), minerals (manganese and magnesium), and antioxidants.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Adult dogs can regulate nutrients, and their diet can achieve balance over time or daily. The diet must provide recommended allowances for essential nutrients to maintain optimal health.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients consist of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to provide calories for energy.

Micronutrients

Amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals are all essential nutrients necessary for optimal health.

Raw Diet Ratios

The ratios for muscle meat, raw edible bone, organs, and plant ingredients provide a guide on which ingredients to select to include in a raw diet for adult dogs.

Raw diet ratios provide guidance on which ingredients and their amounts to use when formulating an adult dog. However, it is important to note these are starting guidelines, these are not “rules,” and adjustments should be made to complete recommended allowances for essential macro and micronutrients.

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