Dr. Patty Khuly at Dolittler had a great post today about calorie counting for fat dogs. The following excerpt is something that really hit home, related to the lovely Freya and the handsome Axel:
The first sticking point? It always comes down to measuring everything the dog eats and does. The kids might have fed X. I didn’t know the treats counted. (Seriously?) My mother-in-law sneaks her food under the table.
While we of course know that treats count, we haven’t been monitoring the types and amounts of treats, as well as food used in training sessions, as closely as we should. I am sure that as I start keeping track, I will be surprised and somewhat dismayed, much as I was when I’ve kept a food diary for myself and realized how much mindless snacking happens during a typical workday.
As you may recall, Freya has some weight to lose and Axel has some weight to gain.
In the month since he’s been home, Axel’s put on several pounds. Once we got a good handle on the amount of energy he expends when spending part of the day in a kennel run and part as a house dog, as compared to being a full-time house dog, it was pretty easy to recalculate the amount of food he needs when living with his handler, and the smaller amount of food he needs when living at home with us.
I must admit that I have not been as diligent as I should have been about getting enough additional exercise for Freya (and myself). I just found a nearby source for the low fat formulation of California Natural Lamb and Rice, which is one of the only foods that Freya can eat due to her mild IBS. I was quite relieved to find that she likes it, and that she can eat it with no tummy troubles, so that will be a help in reducing her calories and still letting her eat enough to feel full.
I mentioned in my earlier post that Freya’s vet calculated her calorie requirements. At the time I did not ask for the details (math is not my strong point and I do trust our vets), but I can now double-check using the information in today’s Dolittler post:
Base calories/day (resting energy requirement) = 30 x (your dog’s weight in kg) + 70
* Weight loss needed, neutered/spayed = 1 x base calories
* Weight loss needed, intact = 1.1x base calories
Freya: [(30 x 42 kg) + 70] x 1 = 1330 calories
California Natural Lamb and Rice = 430 calories per cup
1330 / 430 = 3.09 cups per day (if no treats or extras were fed)
She gets 2 to 2.5 cups per day, plus treats, so that should be fine, which agrees with our vet’s calculations. That is, unless the treats I’m using turn out to be more caloric than I thought. I’ll need to track down the information on that, which was another suggestion from the Dolittler post. It is very true that caloric information for treats is not always on the package, but often easy enough to find on the manufacturer’s websites, so it is time for me to do some research and maybe switch some treat choices. I often use “people food” for training treats, usually hot dogs or frozen meatballs, so it will be easy enough to switch to the low fat versions of those items as well.
I’ll stop at the vet on the way home from training on Saturday and get a current weight for Freya, and see how we are doing so far.
(PS: This is also the Day 7 assignment for 31DBBB. Yes, I’m a bit behind, but still working through this excellent series!)