Here is the Dog Math. We know here how to calculate the number of calories that your dog has to eat. If you feel confused about the dog kitchen, focus here!
Most of dog owners rarely count calories for their dogs. But counting calories is what makes your dog in a perfect and healthy weight.
“Feeding excessive calories leads to undesired weight gain that shortens the life span of a dog,” states Sean Delaney, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist and founder of the BalanceIt.com website.
So, what are calories?
Let’s start the explanation by defining the “calorie”. Scientifically, a kilocalorie aka Kcal is the unit of energy in food. In other words, it’s the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water by 1-degree celsius. Easy?
Therefore, how do calories play into how much to feed a dog?
Generally, most dogs need about 25-30 calories per pound of their body weight. In case they need to stay the same weight. In addition, you have to consider age, activity level and if your dog is spayed. For you math buffs eager to calculate your dog’s daily caloric needs, you need to divide his body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms. Next, you have to calculate your dog’s resting energy requirement (RER) by using this equation: 70 (body weight in kg)^0.75. And then you need to identify commonly used multipliers that factor in your dog’s age, weight, activity level and if your dog is spayed/neutered or intact in calculating the calories.
Not so into math? There are some calorie calculating applications. Take a look at the label on your dog’s food packaging. Since 2013, the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has required pet food manufacturers to offer feeding guidelines that include calories. Keep in mind that these are suggested guidelines.
For instance, on the label of the dry food, there is a feeding guide chart. Based on your dog’s weight, it recommends how much you have to feed her for her total of bodyweight calories. If you choose to serve them homemade meals, use a gram scale. “A gram scale is the best way to measure food,” Dr. Delaney says. “Kitchen gram scales only cost between $10 to $20 at major retailers and online.”
Good food vs. bad food
Considering the number of calories is good. However, you have to put into consideration also the value of the dog’s food. For instance, humans get more nutrition when they eat an apple more than they do when they eat some chips. Likewise, you have to choose the quality of the food you give to your dog also.
Keeping count of how much to feed a dog
So, how do you keep tabs on your dog’s weight and health? Here is a sampling of responses from an informal poll we conducted of Facebook friends:
- Laura Brown of Alexandria, Virginia, uses a digital scale to weigh food going into the bowls for her senior Chihuahuas, Lola and Bentley. “Both are active and healthy. The most challenging was the learning curve/research for understanding how to properly do my own raw feeding.”
- Cindy Vet of Decatur, Georgia, writes, “Portion control, yes. Calorie counting and apps, no. As my dogs Hershey, Tika and Nugget have aged and slowed down, we have followed our wonderful veterinarian’s advice on adjusting portions for each, as they have three different diets. He figured out the caloric intake of each food and the appropriate portion for each dog. We adjust as he recommends.”
- Beth Leatherman Harwell of Mooresville, North Carolina, shares her home with Daisy Mae, Luke and Trooper. She says, “We measure their kibble and home-cooked food and keep treats (3 calories per treat, grain-free) to a minimum. We use a marked measuring cup for their kibble and home-cooked foods. We don’t want them to become overweight or cause stress on their joints or internal organs.”
- Michelle Romano of San Antonio, Texas, pays close attention to what and how much she feeds Yeti, her 10-year-old Lhasa Apso, who has a history of intestinal tumors and pancreatitis. “I control his portions and monitor what he eats. What I find the most difficult is the feeding amounts on the bags of food. Instead, I pay attention to the guaranteed analysis — nothing more than 10 percent fat.”
- Jocelyn Shannon of Oceanside, California, writes, “We don’t count calories, but we do measure the amounts we give Stanley, our 10-year-old Poodle mix, and check his weight regularly.”
Calorie-counting apps and calculators can help you figure out how much to feed a dog:
To help you calculate how many calories your dog needs to consume each day to stay at a healthy weight, here is a sampling of apps and calculators to assist you:
- Pet Nutrition Alliance’s Nutritional Calculator – petnutritionalliance.org/dog.php
- SlimDoggy App – slimdoggy.com/about-the-slimdoggy-app/#screens
- NutriPetDog App – Available on Google Play
Is exercise important to control a dog’s weight?
It may shock you to learn that typical daily exercise by your dog doesn’t burn a considerable number of calories.
“As such, most dogs should have no adjustment made in their caloric intake due to exercise,” Dr. Delaney says. Exceptions might be active hunting and sled dog racing where many miles are run.”
Therefore, despite taking your dog on daily walks is a healthy decision, not a lot of calories are burned. A dog maintaining a pace of 3 miles per hour on a leashed walk takes about 15 minutes to reach a mile and only burns .8 calories per pound per mile. So, in the case of Kona, she would burn only 80 calories in a one-hour walk.
Vets point to the 70/30 percent rule, which means a dog who needs to spill excess pounds will tend to lose 70% of his calories by decreasing his food amount and only 30% of calorie loss from exercise.
Related Topic: Are Spices Safe for Dogs?