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Monday, November 24, 2014

How Much Food Does Your Dog Need?

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Recently I had the opportunity to learn a bit about the recommended amount of food that is listed on all dog food bags. This is a topic I had never heard much about, and one that seems cut and dried. Surprisingly, it’s not!

Pet food manufacturers list on their bags an average amount of food required for dogs of several weight ranges. It’s important for you to know that these amounts are only a starting point for you to experiment with. To determine what your pup’s ideal amount of food is, you need a couple of important pieces of information:

  • Weigh your dog and get a physical to get started with this process. Your veterinarian can advise you of a healthy weight range for your particular pet. At this appointment, you’ll want to be prepared to share your dog’s daily routine including his activity level, daily mental activity (training and brain games he may engage in), exercise specifics, along with the amount of training treats and other non-meal snacks that your dog gets daily. All this information will play into your vet’s advice.
  • Another important fact that your vet may wish to have available is your dog’s food brand. Bring along the nutrition information  and ingredient list from the label to assist your dog’s doctor in evaluating his or her needs. Based on your dog’s age, breed, current weight and other facts, your vet should be able to give you a better idea of where to start with his daily food allowance.
  • After getting this starting point, try to drop in at least every 2 weeks (more often is better) to weigh your dog. This information will help a ton in determining if you’re on the right track, allowing you to modify Fido’s allowance before he loses or gains an appreciable amount of weight.
You’ll also want to track any changes in his activity level, training time (brain work burns calories!), and extra snacks. If you’re feeding too many between-meal treats you’ll  quickly notice that this is adding to his waistline. Most dogs require only a few small treats each day to reward for extra special behaviors.

Tanner and Oliver, who each have very different jobs, probably get more treats than the average dog may require. Since they do a lot of photo work, posing, store visits, dog park visits and travel, they probably get an average of 3-6 very small ‘thank you’ treats each day. Were they not working for a living, I’m guessing they might only be getting a couple of treats on average, possibly for performing behaviors that are not generally asked of them, or for an energy burst when we enjoy more than the average amount of exercise.

If your dog is in need of dropping a few pounds, your vet will probably suggest you look at the weight management food to aid in this weight loss goal. You can also accelerate the process by gradually building up your dog’s activity. This needn’t be a sudden increase. You can simply begin by adding an additional 5 minutes to his walk or including a vigorous backyard fetch game each afternoon. As you build on this, you should find that your dog’s weight will begin to move downward on the scales. That’s going to be good news to you and your dog, as he’s sure to live a longer life and enjoy it more when he’s active and enjoying a strong bond with you.
Doga Fun with Tanner

Speaking of bonding, I hope you'll join us for the #WeeklyWag each Saturday when I touch on various topics that help you and your dog bond even more closely. Included in this weekly feature, we often share yoga poses that you can do with your dog--#Doga! We've created a series of simple, one pose videos for basic training; find them at the link.  No need for Fido to stretch; just join you for an easy practice that keeps you in shape. See you soon!

Happy tails,

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