How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat To Lose Weight


How many calories should my dog eat to lose weight? I guess that depends on a few things, but if you’re like me, you’d like to know. You probably have a dog with a few extra pounds on him or her. It turns out that it’s not as easy as just feeding your pet less food (despite their begging to the contrary). You’ll need to learn what quick weight loss is and how you can get your pet in shape in no time!

Everybody believes that dogs are little fiber pillows who can eat whatever they want and never put on weight, but that’s not true. Just like humans, dogs have to watch what they eat and tweak their diets to help them lose weight or maintain a specific weight.

How Many Calories Should My Dog Eat To Lose Weight

Losing weight can be difficult for everyone, even humans and animals. The good news is that decreasing weight and staying in shape can not only add years to your or your pet’s life, but also improve the quality of those extra years. It can be less difficult than you think to assist your best buddy in achieving a healthy weight. It simply calls for awareness of the necessity for fitness and weight loss, attention to detail, and straightforward support from your veterinary healthcare team.

Why a Healthy Weight is Important for your Dog

Your dog may be at danger for acquiring certain significant medical issues if it is even five pounds beyond the optimum weight range. Unfortunately, when a dog is identified as overweight or obese, the question is no longer “if” but rather “how many and how soon” your dog will acquire a condition linked to the excess weight. The following are a few of the common disorders linked to canine obesity:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Respiratory and Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Many forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers
  • Overweight and obese dogs are expected to live shorter lives than their fitter, normal weight

Dogs are typically less playful and enthusiastic than their families, and they interact with them less physically. Because they tend to spend more time lying about, illnesses are sometimes overlooked because we chalk it up to “normal laziness.” We are only now beginning to understand how detrimental and dangerous a few more pounds can be for both people and our canine and feline friends.

Start with Calories

Less calories in + more calories out equals weight loss, according to a formula that seems straightforward enough. Sadly, it’s not as easy as that formula would have you believe.

To begin with, you must always seek the advice of your dog’s veterinarian healthcare staff before starting him on a diet. This is because your dog’s extra weight could be the result of a medical problem. Hyperadrenocorticism, often known as Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism are two prevalent disorders linked to weight gain. Before starting a diet, it is important to rule out these illnesses and others as potential contributors or causes to your dog’s weight problem. Too many canines start a diet and fail to lose weight because the sickness, not the diet, was the issue.

We’ll start by figuring out how many calories your dog requires. Your dog needs to be inspected by your veterinarian first, and an optimal weight needs to be determined. You may select a target weight that is higher than the optimal starting weight depending on how overweight your pet is. Three to five percent of a dog’s body weight should be lost per month in order to lose weight safely. An easy formula for canine weight loss is as follows:

  • Ideal weight in pounds divided by 2.2 gives you weight in kilograms (kg)
  • Calculate the Resting Energy Requirements (RER) based on this ideal weight:RER in kcal/day =
    • RER in kcal/day = (ideal or target weight in kg ^ 0.75) x 70       or (ideal or target weight in kg) to the 3⁄4 power) x 70
    • 30 x (body weight in kilograms) + 70
  • For weight loss in dogs, feeding the RER calories for the step-weight loss target weight (or ideal weight in some cases) should be adequate. In cases that fail to respond to this number of calories, the total will need to be reduced.

What If My Dog is A Little Overweight?

Why worry about one extra pound? On a big dog, one pound wouldn’t matter, but for Ella, that’s 10 percent of her body weight, and it’s noticeable on her small frame. But it’s her health, not her looks, that concerns me.

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight
Erika Maurer

Overweight dogs die younger and are less healthy than lean dogs. In a 14-year study, it was shown that dogs who were given 25% fewer calories than their littermates who were fed freely lived nearly two years longer and displayed fewer outward indications of aging. Additionally, they were a full three years older before they required arthritis treatment.

Pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease, disc disease, ruptured cruciate ligaments, hip dysplasia and other types of joint disease, surgical complications, a weakened immune system, and even a variety of cancers are health issues that are more prevalent in overweight dogs.

Up to 50% of dogs in the United States are overweight, although the majority of their owners are unaware of this fact. According to a recent survey, only 17% of pet owners and 47% of veterinarians felt that their patients were overweight. It’s time to accept reality and start your dog on a diet if you can’t readily feel your dog’s ribs and shoulder blades, if you can’t tell where her waist is (a tuck behind the ribs), or if there is a roll of fat at the base of her tail.

Many people mistakenly believe that a dog at his ideal weight is too underweight since they’re so accustomed to seeing overweight canines. He’s not too thin, though, as long as his hips and spine are not protruding and only one or two final ribs are faintly showing. When in doubt, get advice from your veterinarian or visit an agility competition to observe what fit dogs appear like.

Types of Dog Food Best for Weight Loss

The majority of prescribed diets for weight loss are abnormally low in protein and fat and high in carbohydrates. The same is true of many commercial weight-loss diets, however some businesses have adjusted their strategies after realizing that this is not the best way to aid dogs in losing weight.

The same amount of calories are provided by both proteins and carbohydrates, but proteins are more frequently employed to build lean muscle while carbohydrates are more frequently stored as body fat. L-carnitine, a derivative of an amino acid found in meat, fish, and dairy products, aids in fat burning.

Dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates, but they do better on meals heavy in protein because they perceive them to be more gratifying. Diets for dogs should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

You should restrict how much you eat because fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as protein or carbohydrates. However, fat is also what best satisfies appetite. A diet that is too low in fat will make your dog constantly hungry, which will make it more difficult for you to follow the diet plan and may even encourage food theft or feces eating. Instead of giving a low-fat diet, it is preferable to offer a meal with moderate fat and adjust the portion size as necessary.

Look for a minimum of 25% protein when feeding kibble or other dry food. Generally speaking, more is better: the lower the carbs, the higher the protein. Puppies, senior dogs, and healthy adult dogs can all be fed high-protein diets; only a small number of specialized medical disorders call for protein restriction. (For further more on this subject, see “Diet and the Older Dog,” WDJ December 2006).

A fat proportion of 12 to 16 percent is desirable. Reduced quantities of diets with even higher fat content and high protein content have helped some dogs shed pounds, perhaps because they are also relatively low in carbohydrates.

Avoid foods that include an excessive amount of fiber, the indigestible component of carbs, (greater than 5 to 6 percent). Increased fiber won’t make your dog feel fuller and too much can prevent nutrients from being absorbed. The weight-loss recipe of Hill’s Prescription r/d dry dog food contains an astounding 26 percent fiber, including 10.4 percent cellulose, or virtually sawdust. More than a quarter of what you pay for cannot be digested.

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight

Wellness CORE Original (34 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 4 percent fiber) and Orjijen Adult are two examples of nutritious foods. (40 percent protein, 16 percent fat, 2.5 percent fiber).

When evaluating canned foods, deduct the moisture content from 100 and then look for proteins and fats that make up at least one third and one quarter of the remaining portions, respectively. Typically, this means that fat should be at least 5% and protein should be at least 8%, while meals with extremely high moisture content may have significantly lower percentages. (80 percent or more).

Grain-free foods are frequently (though not always) high in protein and low in carbohydrates, however some of them are also high in fat. Most senior and light diets continue to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein. But some more recent formulations now use more protein (which means fewer carbohydrates) and have lower fat content than diets for adult maintenance. Compared to dry foods, canned food often has higher protein and lower carbohydrate content.

Lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and green vegetables should be substituted for most grains and carbs when feeding a customized diet. In place of the very low-fat breast meat, give the dark meat of the bird after removing the skin. Avoid fatty meats like lamb, pork, and high-fat beef and remove separable fat from meats by trimming them off before cooking. It is acceptable to consume eggs in moderation. These foods can also be used to supplement a portion of a commercial diet, increasing the quantity of protein and lowering the overall amount of carbohydrates.

Calculating Calorie Intake for Your Dog

There are two critical steps you must take before you can determine your dog’s calorie requirements. One is to weigh your dog accurately and recently. You won’t get an accurate measurement if you use an old weight or one that you estimate. To determine your dog’s optimal or target weight, you should also speak with your pet’s doctor. You will use the optimal weight in the equation if your dog is a healthy weight.

You are figuring out your dog’s RER (resting energy need) using this equation. This is the amount of energy your dog expends in a typical day without any other activities. This measurement includes actions like as walking to and from food and water, short trips to the restroom, and other everyday activities in addition to the baseline metabolism. Just yet, don’t worry about including other activities, like walks or sports.

RER in kcal/day = (ideal or target weight in kg ^ 0.75) x 70 OR 30 x (body weight in kg) +70

To determine your dog’s weight in kilograms, divide its weight in pounds by 2.2. So, a 10-pound dog weighs 4.5kg and a 50-pound dog weighs 22.7kg.

dog eating scattered food

Additional Factors That May Alter Your Calculation

Spayed/Neutered Adult Dog:

Once a dog is spayed or neutered, hormone levels drop significantly, taking metabolism with them. It is also more difficult for a dog that is fixed to build muscle, and muscle is a driving factor in metabolism.

  • To determine the calorie needs of a fixed dog, use this equation: RER x 1.6

Intact Adult Dog:

Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered retain the hormones and muscle-building ability that fixed dogs have lost, which means they have a higher metabolism, thus needing more food.

  • To determine their calorie needs, use this equation: RER x1.8

Sedentary/Obesity Prone:

Dogs with a low activity lifestyle or those that are predisposed to obesity due to health or genetics require fewer calories than most other adult dogs.

  • Use one of these equations: RER x 1.2, RER x 1.3, RER x 1.4. You can choose the equation based on your dog’s level of sedentariness.

Weight Loss:

If your veterinarian has determined your dog is overweight, you will use the RER you already determined as their calorie needs. Run this number by your veterinarian to verify they are in agreement.

Weight Gain:

Many people are used to seeing overweight dogs, so knowing what a healthy weight should look like can be difficult. Have your vet determine if your dog is underweight and have them sign off on a weight gain plan before you start this.

  • To determine weight gain calorie needs, use this equation: RER x 1.2 up to RER x 1.8. This is dependent on your dog’s activity level and how underweight they are.

Active/Working Dogs:

If you’ve got a dog that participates in sports like flyball and weight pull, or a working dog like a police or cadaver dog, your dog needs more calories than the average pet.

  • Use this equation: RER x 2 up to RER x 5. This is dependent on the level of activity your dog is participating in and may vary from day to day.

Puppies 0-4 Months:

Puppies in this age range are growing extremely quickly and need plenty of high-quality nutrition and calories to help them out.

  • Use the following equation for puppies in this age group: RER x 3

Puppies 4-12 Months:

Puppies in this age group are still growing rapidly and most dogs continue to grow for 18-24 months.

  • Use the following equation for puppies in this age group: RER x 2. Note that if your puppy is a giant breed, it may have different nutritional needs, so verify the calories you calculate with your vet before implementing it.

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