Is your dog its ideal weight?
One of the most common questions that we get is about how much food to feed your dog. Some of you are worried (especially the Italians ;-) that your dog will be too skinny or on the other side of the spectrum – looking like a night table because he or she ate too much.
One of the leading causes of obesity in dogs is dry, processed food because it is not species appropriate and a large number of calories are packed into a small volume of kibbles. Dogs like to eat until they feel full and their calorie intake is often too high. This is why so many dogs fed processed food look like four-legged night tables and are far from their optimal weight, whereas their natural raw or cooked diet fed counterparts often look lean and healthy.
Recently, one of my readers, Francesca, asked me on Facebook what her dog’s RER – resting energy requirement was. Then I thought: “I never count my RER and keep myself in good shape. Nature never intended dogs to calculate their RER." I recalled the boring course in nutrition at the veterinary college where we used to calculate RER for cows while, in reality, all we needed to do was to let them onto the pasture and allow them to graze.
In my opinion, RER is mainly used by processed pet food companies whose so-called scientific methods are meant to distract us while they sell us nutritionally inappropriate, processed food junk.
So here I am, writing this blog for all those dogs who could have a better and happier life and everyone who wants to calculate less and understand more. I also give my thanks to Francesca for encouraging me to write something that I should have written a long time ago.
All you need to know is:
- How much food to start with
- How to recognize if your dog is thin or heavy
- How much to adjust food
- When to re-evaluate
If you are feeding processed food, I urge you to reconsider. Recently, I witnessed a sad example of what happens when your dog becomes a victim of processed food. I have now been recommending natural raw or cooked diets for dogs for more than 17 years and it has become very obvious that pet food companies don’t tell us the 'whole' food truth.
Just a few days ago, I met this really nice 10-year-old lab and his owner in a park. Let's call him Barley. I learned that Barley had heart disease. He required a $5,000 surgery to remove his spleen and some huge tumors on his shoulder. It broke my heart to see Barley wanted to play with Skai, but could hardly move. I learned from his owner that he was fed Pedigree because a vet told him that a raw diet was unsafe. The owner asked me if Skai was three years old. "He is going to be 10 this summer," I replied.
If you are already feeding natural food, it will be easy to follow my recommendations. If you intend to continue feeding dried food, read on anyway as most of the information is universal.
How much food to start with
Here is an example: A dog that weighs 50 lbs should get approximately 500 grams of meat and raw bone in a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio.
Here is the simple formula I use:
Body Weight (lbs) x 10 = amount of meat and bones in grams to feed.
To this, add 25 percent veggies, which in this case is 125 gm. This will give you a total of 625 grams of food per day in one or two feedings per day. If your dog is a more active breed or thin, you may need to feed more, sometimes up to two times as much.
To evaluate your dog’s body weight, feel the ribs, touch the hips, is going to be your mantra.
Just follow this chart for simplicity and adjust your dog's food amount accordingly.
If you follow this simple chart, your dog is very likely to be a healthy weight. However, there are some medical conditions that may contribute to obesity. Don’t forget to count in any food, including treats and bones, that your dog eats. Bones have a very similar calorie density to meat.