WHAT PORTIONS SHOULD I FEED MY DOG TO MEET HIS ENERGY NEEDS
By Matthew Wismayer
This is one of the most popular questions by dog owners who have a dog at home, however although it may seem a very straightforward question, it certainly does not always result so. In this article I will explain to pet owners how to arrive to the conclusion the amount of right food to feed their dog.
Certainly when choosing your dog’s energy needs you must first of all understand his energy requirements. There is no set formula for determining your dog’s individual needs. It is much easier for us humans to calculate the calories upon your weight because we are all relatively similar compared to dogs. In fact, if a person wants to know how many calories you should consume all he must do is look on a chart, calculate his activity level and age and arrive at a conclusion easily. However with dogs it does not work out so easily.
There are huge differences between breeds, size, growth rates in puppies activity levels, skin and coat thicknesses and living conditions. For example compare the energy needs of a young Malamute living outdoors and pulling a dog sledge in severe cold conditions and a Yorkshire living in a heated apartment. The pound difference in caloric needs could be certainly tenfold. All this sums up that in human rarely happens and these differences are why it makes it so difficult to have a set answer for how much a dog should be fed.
The table below give some guidelines that pet nutritionists use to calculate the caloric needs for dogs. The table is based upon a dog’s RESTING ENERGY REQUIREMENTS OR RER. The RER is the basic amount of energy that a dog would use in a day while remaining at rest.
The formula to calculate RER for animals between 2 and 45 kilos is
RER IN K/CAL /day = BODY WEIGHT IN KILOGRAMS OF YOUR DOG + 70
This table shows the significant variability in a dog, energy requirements based upon his activity, however it does not take into account characteristics like air temperature, coat insulation which can additionally alter an individual dog’s energy requirement as much or more than any activities listed above.
Feeding a poor quality food is never a good idea because in addition to actually being more expensive because of the increased quantities needed to fulfil nutritional requirements, it also produces more waste. Also it is more likely to create digestive or behavioural problems.
So to begin, chose a high quality food and look at the recommendations on the label to get your starting point. From there you need to have an accurate weight of your dog and a projected target weight. Whether it is an adult or a growing puppy, look at the table above and get an idea of your dog’s activity level. Take into account all other variables such as environmental factors or any additional calories in the form of treats or table foods and adjust the starting amount accordingly.
Remember that most dogs are overfed and under exercised so, if in doubt I usually recommend dog owners to feed a little less. After you have started feeding the amount that you have calculated that your dog needs, than you need to weigh him or her at least once a month to determine if the amount fed is appropriate. If necessary increase or decrease the amount of food slightly until the dog stays at his ideal weight .A handy trick for weighing you dog on a bathroom scale is to weigh yourself while you hold the dog and then weigh yourself without the dog and subtract the difference.
In today’s article I highlighted the importance of calculating properly the calories your dog should eat. The two most important factors are observing the table above in order to calculate properly the amount of food to eat throughout your dog life and the quality of the food. Most weight problems develop slowly and will often begin when a dog goes through the transition from a growing puppy to an adult. Another time we must monitor closely is when our dog is passing through the transition from an adult to a senior as the caloric requirements diminish and we must adjust at the right time.
Last but not least exercise your dog regularly so that he burns the required calories and also keeps himself in a good shape also keeping him away from health problems.