So, obviously we know that helping our furry friends maintain a healthy weight is the simple matter of balancing what goes in with what gets used. But it is easier said than done when busy schedules and soulful begging eyes are working against our best efforts. We hope these tips will help you prevent pet obesity:
1. Know what your pet needs-there's math involved here!
First, get a good estimate of how many calories your pet needs per day. This is seldom the recommended feeding amount stated on the food bag!
-Multiply your pet’s weight in pounds by 13.6.
-Add 70 to the answer above.
The total of steps one and two is your dog’s RER in calories per day.
So, if your dog weighs 50 pounds, multiply this by 13.6 to get 680 and then add 70 for a total RER of 750 calories per day.
The total above is what your pet needs if it were doing no other activity for the day. Of course, we all do at least some actual activity. So one needs a multiplier to get the right estimate of calories needed for both living and moving. The following estimates should be used for healthy mostly-indoor pets:
1.2 – Obese-prone adult (for instance if you have observed easy weight gain in the past)
1.4 – Neutered adult
1.6 – Unneutered adult
If the example pet above was neutered, the total daily need would be 750 x 1.4, or 1050 calories.
It is critical to note here that if your pet is very young or is pregnant or nursing, you should consult Dr. Daniels for more specific recommendations. Additionally, this formula is not ideal for pets weighing less than 5 pounds or more than 120 pounds.
2. Know what your pet gets:
All pet foods are required to have the calories per cup listed on the package. So, once you know your pet’s approximate needs, you can determine how much food will satisfy the requirement. Make sure you are using an accurate measuring cup or scoop!
3. Adjust when needed:
When measuring food, consider activity levels and treats for that specific day. If you worked a double shift and missed the usual afternoon walk/play session, cut back a bit. If you went out for a weekend warrior walk or played flashlight tag for 30 minutes that gave your pet three extra hours of exercise than usual, increase the dinner portion. If you and your pet are working on a new trick and using treats for rewards, be sure and deduct those extra calories from a meal.
4. Keep treats healthy:
Dog biscuits are similar to human cookies; despite claims of containing healthy-sounding flavors like chicken or beef, the main ingredients are usually flour and corn and are generally around 50 or more calories of mainly excess carbohydrate. Also like human cookies they often don’t pack much nutrition in and their calories add up quickly.
5. Don't forget the activity side of the equation:
Of course, the other half of the calories in/calories out equation is activity and exercise!! Helping your pet burn a few extra calories can give the food intake a bit more leeway. And, like us, being fit has all kinds of other health benefits such as improving signs of aging and using calories more efficiently.
If you are still struggling to help your pet reach a healthy weight or want a more detailed health plan please make an appointment to see Dr. Daniels.