British Journal of Nutrition

Poster Presentations

Low-maintenance energy requirements of obese dogs after weight loss

Alexander J. Germana1 c1, Shelley L. Holdena1, Nicola J. Mathera1, Penelope J. Morrisa2 and Vincent Biourgea3

a1 Department of Obesity and Endocrinology, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK

a2 The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK

a3 Royal Canin Research Center, Aimargues, France


Weight rebound after successful weight loss is a well-known phenomenon in humans and dogs, possibly due to the fact that energy restriction improves metabolic efficiency, reducing post-weight-loss maintenance energy requirements (MER). The aim of the present study was to estimate post-weight-loss MER in obese pet dogs that had successfully lost weight and did not subsequently rebound. A total of twenty-four obese dogs, successfully completing a weight management programme at the Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic, University of Liverpool (Wirral, UK), were included. In all dogs, a period of >14 d of stable weight ( < 1 % change) was identified post-weight loss, when food intake was constant and activity levels were stable (assessed via owners' diary records). Post-weight-loss MER was indirectly estimated by determining dietary energy consumption during this stable weight period. Multivariable linear regression was used to identify factors that were associated with post-weight-loss MER. The mean length of stable weight after weight loss was 54 (sd 34·1) d. During this time, MER was 285 (sd 54·8) kJ/kg0·75 per d. The rate of prior weight loss and food intake during the weight-loss phase was positively associated with post-weight-loss MER, while the amount of lean tissue lost was negatively associated with post-weight-loss MER. MER are low after weight loss in obese pet dogs (typically only 10 % more than required during weight-loss MER), which has implications for what should constitute the optimal diet during this period. Preserving lean tissue during weight loss may maximise post-weight-loss MER and help prevent rebound.

(Received October 20 2010)

(Revised November 23 2010)

(Accepted December 08 2010)

(Online publication October 12 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: A. J. German, fax +44 151 795 6101, email


Abbreviations: HPHF, high protein, high fibre; HPMF, high protein, medium fibre; MER, maintenance energy requirement