We’re going to talk about how to determine the appropriate levels of nutrition to help you determine how much you should feed your dog. I’ll be using one of my patients, Luna, as an example.
There’s a lot of complicated terminology about basal metabolic rate and daily energy requirements. However, if you’re feeding your pet a a healthy well-balanced diet, you really don’t need to worry about any of those calculations to know how much you should feed your dog or cat. Practically, all you need to focus on is feeding your pet a healthy well-balanced diet.
How to tell if your pet is overweight or underweight
Look at your dog’s abdomen and you should see a little tuck inward. If you look at your dog and her body is straight across, without any kind of abdominal tuck, that may indicate she is overweight. Pass your hand over her back and you should be able to faintly feel her spine. However if you can see prominent bumps where is spine is and she feels bumpy and ridgy to the touch, that would be an indication that she’s a little bit underweight. Conversely, if you can’t feel anything when you pass a hand over her back, she is most likely overweight.
The same technique applies to her rib cage. You should be able to feel a little bit of definition where her ribs are, but not an enormous amount of bony definition.
This works the same way for dogs or cats – by examining their physique, you will be able to figure out if they’re overweight or underweight or just right.
How much you should feed your dog or cat
By knowing if your pet is overweight or underweight, you’ll be able to tell if you’re feeding your dog or your cat a healthy well balanced diet. You don’t have to calculate how many calories they should need.
Just feed them the recommended amount and if you find that they’re putting on a little weight, simply feed them a little less. Conversely if you feel like they’re losing weight, feed them a little more. There’s so many variations based on lifestyle and metabolism in breed. It’s almost impossible to calculate the exact number of calories they need So just start with an approximation and work from there based on what real life tells you.
What about treats?
In Luna’s case, she’s transitioning from commercial dog food to fruits and vegetables that are healthy for dogs. She’s turning 10 this year and her exercise levels and metabolism are starting to change. Assuming there are no underlying medical issues going on, it remains a matter of modulating her daily intake. The bottom line is that you should approach treats the exact same way as the rest of her diet – if she’s getting a little heavy, cut back, and if she seems thin, you can use treats to supplement increasing her calorie intake. If you ever have questions about what you should be feeding your pet or how much, just ask your veterinarian, They’ll walk you through how she’s looking, her overall health, and help you to figure out the best course of action.
What type of treats?
Assuming you’re feeding your pet natural recipes you can be more selective in the treats you’re feeding your pet. Vegetables are lower calories whereas fruits are higher in sugar. So fruits are going to contribute more to your pet’s daily calorie intake. If you’re concerned your pet is looking heavy, shift away from fruits as treats and replace them with vegetables such a carrots and broccoli.