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A Guide to Calorie Counting for Dogs

A Guide to Calorie Counting for Dogs

Calorie Counting: A Paw-some Approach to Keeping Your Furry Friend Fit

Just when everyone sits down for dinner, you hear the pounding of four furry paws as your Chocolate Lab dashes towards the dining room. She skids to a stop next to your chair, and drool begins to pool on the floor under her open mouth as she stares longingly at the delicious meal atop the table. While she patiently waits for a morsel of food to drop, you think to yourself: “Is she still hungry? Am I not feeding her enough? How much food should I be feeding her?”

Although dogs communicate in other ways, they cannot tell us what they’re thinking. It can be difficult to understand what kind of food they need or how much they really should be eating. That’s why I’m here to walk you through the ins and outs of calorie counting for your canine companion. After all, we dog parents want to make sure our pups are healthy, happy, and getting the right amount of fuel to power their zoomies and cuddle sessions.

Understanding Your Dog’s Calorie Needs

In order to better understand dogs’ daily food requirements, the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine created the MER, or the “maintenance energy requirement.” Your pup’s MER represents the amount of calories she needs to consume in order to do her everyday activities. Weight and exercise habits are contributing factors in your dog’s MER.

The team over at Kurgo created a handy calorie calculator to eliminate all the guesswork in determining your dog’s MER. Just plug in your pup’s information and voila! It will tell you how many calories your dog should consume every day. This is a great starting point, but remember that every dog is unique, so you may need to adjust as you go.

Translating Calories to Cups

Now that you know your dog’s MER, you can determine how much food she needs by checking out Kurgo’s food brand chart. The chart shows the average calories per cup from many popular food brands, so you can see how many cups of food your dog needs every day to stay healthy and fit.

If you’re planning a hiking trip, you can also get an idea of how much extra food you’ll need to bring so that your pup can safely replenish the calories she burns. Just remember that this calorie counter is not meant to take the place of your veterinarian’s recommendations. It should give you a general idea of what your adult dog should be eating. Every breed is different, every dog is different, and the same dog will need more or less as they age.

Treats and Moderation

It’s important to keep in mind that treats should not exceed 10% of your dog’s total daily calorie intake, according to the Pet Nutrition Alliance. Those puppy dog eyes may be hard to resist, but too many extra calories can quickly lead to weight gain.

When it comes to feeding, moderation is key. As the saying goes, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” – and that applies to our furry friends too! By sticking to your dog’s recommended calorie count and limiting treats, you can help them maintain a healthy weight and avoid the risks associated with obesity.

Consulting the Experts

Remember, the calorie calculators and guidelines I’ve shared are just starting points. For the best advice on your dog’s individual nutritional needs, I always recommend consulting your veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist.

The team over at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has a wealth of resources on pet nutrition, including information on life stage-specific requirements, body condition scoring, and even home-cooked diets.

And of course, you can always check out the wealth of information on for more tips and tricks to keep your pup happy and healthy.

Putting it All Together

Calorie counting for dogs may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and guidance, it can be a breeze. By understanding your pup’s individual calorie needs, moderating their treats, and consulting the experts, you can ensure your furry friend is getting the optimal nutrition to fuel their adventures and snuggle sessions.

So the next time your Chocolate Lab comes running at dinnertime, you’ll know exactly how to keep her satisfied and healthy. Happy calorie counting, my fellow dog lovers!

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