It’s sometimes hard to know how much to feed your dog. I mean, even when it has just fed, when it’s time for you to eat it will still be staring at you, begging for titbits. So you try and do the right thing. Give it enough food, without overfeeding, and letting it end up like a little rotund barrel. But you might still be asking yourself, ‘How many calories should my dog eat per day?’
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So what’s the answer?
The best answer to the question, “How many calories a day does my dog need?” is to get the scales out. Dogs, on average, need around 30 calories per pound of bodyweight. So settle this by weighing your dog, and multiplying the resulting weight in pounds by 30 to get their daily calorie requirements. When you’re weighing your dog, it’s best to round up rather than down because you’re working in small numbers, and you’re only going to be a couple of calories over.
If your dog doesn’t like to weigh, or simply won’t stay still long enough on the scales for you to get an even reading, the single best way of weighing them is to weigh yourself first, then after, consider yourself holding your dog. Of course, this won’t work if you’ve got a big dog. If you’ve got an unusually large dog, you’re either going to have to try and fit it on your home scales, find a set of scales large enough to fit them or simply just take them to the vets and get them weighed.
What about activity and calories?
The 30 calories per pound of weight figure aren’t foolproof. Smaller creatures tend to use more calories per pound because of higher metabolisms, so mainly small breeds can use around 40 calories per pound of weight. Larger dogs — like Labs or pit bulls that weigh over 50 pounds, can use around 20 calories per pound of weight. You’ve also got to consider how active your dog is, and where you live.
We all know this: A higher activity level means more burned calories. It’s why the first thing anyone who’s trying to lose weight does is a strap on the running shoes. What this means for your dog is that they have a particularly active lifestyle. Whether that’s just always running around the yard or going out with you for long walks every morning and night, they’re going to be burning far more calories than a dog who just spends all day lying on the sofa dreaming about chasing cats. So adjust accordingly.
Bear in mind also that every dog is as individual as every person. We all know someone who can eat what they want and not put on a pound, and all have a friend who can’t even look at desserts without gaining weight. It’s the same for dogs. Each dog has their metabolism, exercise requirements, health issues and other factors which can affect how much they need to eat.
Finally, weather conditions can make a few changes when it comes to calories. As a general rule of thumb, if you live in colder climes, or you’re going through a cold winter, you need more calories than usual.
The best thing to do is pay close attention to how your furry friend is when you feed them and adjust as you go.
My dog is always begging. Does this mean it is hungry?
No. Healthy dogs can eat at any time, even if they’ve only just eaten. It’s an evolutionary response that gives them a better chance of survival. After all, in the wild, there’s no way of knowing whether they’re going to be eating tomorrow. It doesn’t change even when you’re feeding your dog at the same regular times. Their mind doesn’t understand this, so their survival instincts will always be the same. Long story short; as long as you’re giving your dog enough calories, there’s no reason to give them titbits or treats from your dinner. If you’ve got a particularly hungry dog or a dog that always seems to want to eat, it can be good to break down their meals over the course of the day. Just break their food down into two or three smaller meals.
I don’t know how much to feed my dog? How many calories in dog food?
Every dog food has a different nutritional profile, so it’s almost impossible to give a straight answer to this. The best answer is always to look at the food you’re buying, and check the label to see some calories it provides. If you’re concerned about whether you’re giving your dog the correct nutrition, the best thing to do is speak to your vet. They’ll be able to give you the proper food and nutritional requirements for your particular breed and dog.
The Final Word: How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat Per Day?
We all worry about looking after our pets, and it’s natural to think to yourself how many calories should my dog eat per day. However, as long as your dog is healthy and happy, and their weight is staying relatively stable, then there’s no reason to worry. It’s a long term thing. Watch your dog’s weight over time, watch what you’re feeding, and you’ll make the right choice.