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Everyone wants to be fit and trim, and often, that means keeping track of how many calories you eat during the day. Counting calories can help keep Buddy's waistline – and vet bills – under control.
Good Habits Start Early
If Buddy’s still a pup, it’s not too early to establish good eating habits. Overindulging in puppyhood can be bad for him. Puppies who eat too much and grow too quickly can have problems with bone growth and development and are at risk for obesity. Feeding him the proper amount of a healthy, balanced diet gives him a good start for a long, happy life. It’s not as simple as feeding him a one-size-fits-all portion. You’ll have to consider his size, his age and whether he’s been neutered when you determine his daily caloric intake.
The Animal Medical Center of Chicago has a chart showing the daily caloric intake for dogs of a variety of weights, ages and status. According to the chart, an 8 pound dog younger than 4 months should eat 552 calories of food each day. If that same dog is an non-neutered adult, his calorie count drops dramatically, to 331 calories per day. Puppies require a higher number of calories because of the amount of growing they do in their first year.
You can calculate Buddy’s needs yourself, but you’ll need to do a bit of math. A dog’s resting energy requirements, or RER, are calculated by multiplying his weight, in kilograms, by ¾ of the power by 70. For puppies younger than 4 months old multiply the total by three; for puppies older than 4 months multiply by two. For example, If Buddy’s a 22 pound puppy, he weighs 10 kg – divide his weight in pounds by 2.2 for his metric measurement – the final total is about 800 calories: (70 x 10kg) x .75 x 2 = 800.
After you’ve figured out your pup’s daily requirements, you’ll need to read his dog food label to determine the proper serving size for him. This math is easier than figuring out his calorie count. The label should tell you how many calories are in a cup of food, which is divided into his calories per day, resulting in the number of cups per day Buddy eats. Based on the example above, if Buddy’s food has 400 calories in each cup, he’ll need 2 cups of food per day to meet 800 calorie/day requirement.
Know Your Pup
Of course, nothing’s ever black and white. If Buddy’s a high energy breed who needs a lot of energy during the course of a busy day, his caloric requirements will be higher. As well, if he's an especially laid back fellow, he may need a bit less. The best course of action is to talk to your vet about Buddy’s unique needs to ensure you’re feeding him the proper amount.