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How Many Calories are in Raw Dog Food
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It's been a few weeks since I buckled down on the diet and exercise for my girls and we did a weigh in yesterday and it was a hot mess.  First, it seemed like Zoey gained 10 pounds, Scout lost 10 pounds, and Sydney and Rodrigo remained the same.  So we did it again – no one gained or lost weight.  This is better than the first results, but not what I wanted to see.

I was hoping to see that the girls had dropped 1-2 pounds, but nothing.  So I donated the scale I purchased and placed an order for an in-home digital scale for pets.  It's time to get serious.

While I'm waiting on our new scale, I began to think about the calories my girls are eating. Yes, I cut back their food, but maybe I'm cutting back on the wrong thing.  Instead of focusing on the weight of their food, I should focus on the calories.

How Many Calories Do Dogs Need?

One of the benefits of raw feeding is that feeding a diet of fresh, raw food will help an overweight dog drop down to a healthier weight.  However, if your dog has a thyroid issue, an injury, or both – feeding raw may not be enough.

As part of my girls' diet, I've cut back their meals to 9.25-9.5 ounces per meal and after a few weeks of this diet and daily exercise, I'm stumped by the lack of movement on the scale.  I read that most dogs need approximately 25-30 calories per pound (daily) to maintain their weight – so I reduce if I want them to lose, increase if I want them to gain.  I'd like to see Sydney and Zoey lose at least 5 pounds by the end of the year and I've calculated the following daily caloric intake for each of my girls:

  • Sydney: 75 pounds x 20 calories (lowered for weight loss) = 1,500 calories per day or 750 calories per meal
  • Zoey: 65 pounds x 20 calories (lowered for weight loss) = 1,300 calories per day or 650 calories per meal

Daily Calories per Dr. Karen Becker

My friend, Destiny W, pointed out that Dr. Becker has a different calculation for calories and I wanted to share that here:

Daily Calories for a Dog = Body Weight (kg) x 30 + 70

OR

CONVERT LB to KG: Daily Calories for a Dog = (Body Weight / 2.2) x 30 + 70

  • Sydney: 75 pounds / 2.2 = 34.09 x 30 = 1,022.70 + 70 = 1092.70 calories per day or 546.35 calories per meal
  • Zoey: 65 pounds / 2.2 = 29.54 x 30 = 886.20 + 70 = 956.20 calories per day or 478.10 calories per meal

How Many Calories are in Raw Dog Food?

Now that I know how many calories my girls can have, I can calculate what to feed them to keep from going overboard.  I made a list of everything I feed to my dogs and did a Google search to find the caloric value of each food item.

Calories in Raw Dog Food

The following is primarily a list of the foods I feed to my dogs.  I included chicken and turkey to save you the research if you are feeding these two proteins to your dog.  The calories listed below are per ounce unless otherwise stated.  This is a general Google search and doesn't take into consideration how the animals were fed or raised.

  • Green Tripe = 47 calories
  • Duck with Skin = 58.8 calories
  • Venison = 34 calories
  • Emu = 37 calories
  • Pork = 90 calories
  • Darwin's Pet Lamb recipe = 44 calories
  • Quail = 65 calories
  • Rabbit = 49 calories
  • Pork Liver = 47 calories
  • Pork Heart = 33 calories
  • Pork Kidneys = 28 calories
  • Chicken = 68 calories
  • Turkey = 54 calories
  • Beef = 71 calories
  • Salmon = 58 calories
  • Coconut oil (for golden paste) = 117 calories per tablespoon
  • Raw egg = 72 calories in one large egg

I was surprised to see that bone broth is a very low-calorie food (less than 10 calories per gram).  I'm certain that the calories depend on the meat used and any fat that remains, however, I can't imagine that it changes that much.  Greens and other vegetables are also low in calories at less than 10 calories per cup.

Calories in Supplements

I add spirulina, kelp, milk thistle, and a digestive supplement to my dogs' diet – I can't imagine that these are adding a lot to their daily calories.  However, the fish oil and two chewable supplements that I give to my dogs (shhhh, they think they're treats) should be included…

These supplements add 72 calories to my girls' diet 5 days a week.

Calculating the Calories in my Dogs' Raw Meals

Using the information I gathered, I was able to determine the number of calories in my dogs' raw meals.  Please note that this isn't scientifically based information.

Recent Raw Meal for My Dogs

  • Duck = 58.8 calories x 6 ounces = 352.8
  • Pork Liver = 47 calories x 1 ounce = 47
  • Pork Heart = 33 calories x 1 ounce = 33
  • Pork Kidneys = 28 calories x 1 ounce = 22
  • Veggie Mix = 12.5 x 1 ounces = 12.5 (guess)
  • Golden Paste for Sydney = 25 calories (guess)

Doing the Math for Each of My Girls

The below caloric totals are based on the above raw meal.

  • Total Calories for Sydney = 492.3 + supplement chews (72 calories) = 564.3 per meal or 1,128.60 per day
  • Total Calories for Zoey = 467.3 + supplement chews (72 calories) = 539.3 per meal or 1,078.6 per day

Doing the math, I see that both of my girls are eating the less than the total daily caloric amount I calculated above (1,500 for Sydney, 1,300 for Zoey) and more than the calories calculated using Dr. Becker's method (1,092.7 for Sydney, 956.20 for Zoey), but not much more.  I'm comfortable with what I'm feeding my dogs and the duck, which is higher in calories making it Good News that I alternate proteins regularly.

Feed More Green Tripe for Weight Loss?

One protein the dogs enjoy is green tripe which is only 47 calories per ounce.

  • Green tripe = 47 calories x 9 ounces = 423
  • Veggie Mix = 12.5 x 1 ounces = 12.5 (guess)
  • Golden Paste for Sydney = 25 calories (guess)

Doing the Math for Each of My Girls

The below caloric totals are based on the above raw meal.

  • Total Calories for Sydney = 460.5 + supplement chews (72 calories) = 532.5 per meal or 1065 per day
  • Total Calories for Zoey = 435.5 + supplement chews (72 calories) = 507.5 per meal or 1015 per day
KPS KetoPet Sanctuary - A Pet Parent's Guide to the Ketogentic Diet
Source: KetoPet Sanctuary

Transitioning to a Keto Diet for Dogs

I'm still looking at transitioning two of my dogs to a keto diet to help with weight loss.  For 120 days, my girls will eat a diet that is high in fat (about 69%), moderate in protein, and low in carbs.  Based on what I'm learning from Keto Pet Sanctuary, if I feed my dogs a diet based on their information and research, I'll nearly remove all of the vegetables from their meals, and increase the fat.

Step 1 – Figure Out the Calories per Pound

The total calories fed in the Keto Diet for dogs is going to be different than what I normally feed to my dogs.  According to the Keto Pet Sanctuary, the first step is to calculate the total calories based on my dogs' weight and activity level.

  • Sydney is sedentary and Zoey is active.
  • Both of my girls are overweight.

According to A Pet Parent's Guide to the Ketogenic Diet, which you can download when you subscribe to their newsletter, I should feed my dogs 15 calories per pound.

Step 2 – Calculate Total Calories for Each Dog

  • Sydney weighs 75 pounds: 75 x 15 = 1,125 calories per day or 562.5 calories per meal
  • Zoey weighs 65 pounds: 65 x 15 = 975 calories per day or 487.5 calories per meal

When feeding a Keto diet for weight loss, I would monitor my dogs' weight (using the scale I mentioned above) weekly and gradually increase their calories when they've reached their goal weight of 69-70 pounds for Sydney and 59-60 pounds for Zoey.

Step 3 – Choose the Right Type of Ketogenic Diet

Because the Ketogenic diet is primarily for dogs with cancer, it would be a mistake to follow the guidelines I'm finding online that call for 80% or more fat.  The Pet Parent's Guide lists four options and I believe Option 1 is the right diet for my dogs because this is the best option “for dogs without cancer or any history of disease.”

  • 69% fat
  • 30% protein
  • 1% net carb

Step 4 – Calculate % of Calories from Fat, Protein, and Carbs

This step seems daunting, but it's really easy because we have all the numbers we need.

SYDNEY:

  • Calories from Fat: 69% x 1,125 = 776.25 calories per day
  • Calories from Protein: 30% x 1,125 = 337.5 calories per day
  • Calories from Net Carbs: 1% x 1,125 = 11.25 calories per day

ZOEY:

  • Calories from Fat: 69% x 975 = 672.75 calories per day
  • Calories from Protein: 30% x 975 = 292.5 calories per day
  • Calories from Net Carbs: 1% x 975 = 9.75 calories per day

Step 5 – Calculate the Grams of Fat, Protein, and Carbs

Because I weigh my dogs' meals, this is the step that lets me know how much to feed my dogs.  According to the KetoPet download I am reading, fat has 9 grams of fat and protein and carbs have 4 grams of fat each.  I calculated the ounces with an online grams-to-ounces calculator.

SYDNEY:

  • Grams of Fat: 776.25 calories / 9 calories per gram = 86.25 grams or 3 ounces
  • Grams of Protein: 776.25 calories / 4 calories per gram = 194 grams or 6.8 ounces
  • Grams of Carbs: 776.25 calories / 4 calories per gram = 194 grams or 6.8 ounces

ZOEY:

  • Grams of Fat:  672.75 calories / 9 calories per gram = 74.75 grams or 2.6 ounces
  • Grams of Protein: 672.75 calories / 4 calories per gram = 168 grams or 5.9 ounces
  • Grams of Net Carbs: 672.75 calories / 4 calories per gram = 168 grams or 5.9 ounces
The Ketogentic Diet for Dogs by Answers Pet Food
Source: Answers Pet Food

 

Ketogenic Raw Meal for My Dogs

I tried to calculate a Ketogenic diet for my dogs and made the mistake of trying to balance this diet per meal.  This is where I'm stuck at the moment because while I do feed duck (protein), I feed duck with skin (fat) and I'm not sure what percentage of each I'm working with and I'm not sure I really want to do that math – it makes my head hurt.

Answers Pet Food released this graphic about the Ketogenic Diet using their products as an example.  The percentages are different because this graphic accounts for the fat in the raw dog food while adding additional fat to bring about ketosis, which is a state in which our dogs' systems will burn fat for energy.

For now, I'm going to stick with my dogs' current diet which is lower in calories, adding coconut oil which promotes increased energy and weight loss.  I'm going to continue researching the Ketogenic Diet for dogs.  I'm not comfortable jumping in because I want to avoid creating a diet that promotes weight gain instead of ketosis.

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