NRC issues new nutrient requirements for dogs and cats

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One of every four dogs and cats in the Western world is now obese. A new report from the National Academies' National Research Council recommends revised nutrient guidelines to keep dogs and cats healthy. These guidelines update the dietary recommendations made by the NRC in the mid-1980s.

The National Academy of Sciences released the report Sept. 8 during a symposium and public hearing at the National Academies' Keck Center in Washington, D.C. Webcast around the world, the symposium featured presentations by the international team of experts who developed the report. The Webcast will be archived at for future listening.

The 450-page report is the most comprehensive assessment available of the daily nutrient and calorie requirements for dogs and cats. Although intended primarily for scientists, pet food manufacturers, and veterinarians, the report includes tips on how to recognize when dogs and cats are overweight, and on what and how to feed them to keep them healthy. The National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Pet Food Institute sponsored the report. The NRC is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The report reviews and summarizes thousands of scientific papers published over the past 25 years and makes science-based recommendations on specific nutrient requirements. Recommendations are based on an animal's physical activity level and stage in life. The report also looks at how nutrients are metabolized, indications of nutrient deficiency, and diseases related to poor nutrition. There is a comprehensive discussion of pet food additives, and tables detailing the composition of ingredients typically used in pet foods.

Prepublication copies of 'Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats' are available from the National Academies Press; phone, (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313, and on the Internet at A quick reference list of daily calorie recommendations and essential vitamin and mineral requirements for dogs and cats, as well as signs that a pet may be deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral, can be found at , along with more information on keeping pets healthy.