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A friend of mine is putting together the code for a raw feeding calculator for my blog in exchange for a sushi dinner. I use raw feeding calculators to figure out how much I need to feed my dogs. And last year, I invested in a home scale for my dogs so that I can stay on top of how many ounces I should feed them daily.
And then another friend asked me how many calories I was feeding my dogs.
He then went on to tell me that too many people were treating raw feeding calculators as gospel when they really should be a guideline. Given that we have little to go on, I'm not really surprised. When I started, I treated everything as gospel. Today, I know to ask questions and do my research.
Am I Overfeeding My Dogs?
I'm raising four dogs on a raw food diet, two (my boys) are in great shape and two (my girls) can stand to lose a few pounds. I thought Sydney might have a thyroid issue because I was told that she had a thyroid issue last year. Maybe she did, but she's fine now according to her most recent blood work, so now it's time to focus on weight loss.
I've been feeding my girls less than 2% to help them with weight loss and wondering why it's taking so long – ummm, probably because I'm not counting calories. When I'm trying to lose weight, I exercise and count calories – why wouldn't I do the same for my dogs?
Calculating Your Dog's Calories Per Day
If you Google how many calories our dogs should eat daily, you'll find that we should feed our dogs 25-30 calories per pound of bodyweight. This still seemed high and a friend directed me to Dr. Karen Becker's calculation for calories and this calculation feels more accurate.
Daily Calories for a Dog = Body Weight (kg) x 30 + 70
CONVERT LB to KG: Daily Calories for a Dog = (Body Weight / 2.2) x 30 + 70
Rodrigo: 65# / 2.2 = 29.55 x 30 = 886.36 + 70 = 956.36 calories per day or 478.18 calories per meal
Sydney: 79# / 2.2 = 35.91 x 30 = 1,077.27 + 70 = 1147.27 calories per day or 573.64 calories per meal
Scout: 83# / 2.2 = 37.73 x 30 = 1,131.82 + 70 = 1201.82 calories per day or 600.91 calories per meal
Zoey: 72# / 2.2 = 32.73 x 30 = 981.82 + 70 = 1051.82 calories per day or 525.91 calories per meal
How Many Calories Are My Dogs Eating?
I explored the topic of how many calories dogs need and now I'm putting that information together with what's on the menu at our house. I feed a variety of proteins to provide different nutrients, to keep my budget in check, and to make mealtime fun for the dogs (well, mostly for me).
Here is a list of proteins compared to how much I'm feeding my dogs. This is my first crack at this so the calories may not be 100% accurate. As you can see, my dogs are eating more calories than they should. I'm not worried about Rodrigo and Scout because they are active dogs. Sydney is a couch potato and Zoey is too shy to play with the boys, so I have to walk her or play with her separately some days.
In order to help my girls lose weight, I can't depend on the raw feeding calculator alone. I need to pay attention to their daily caloric intake. Based on several of the raw feeding calculators I've followed, 2% is what you feed when you want your dog to lose weight, however, if you're feeding a high-calorie protein on a regular basis, you'll have to reduce that percentage even more.
So Should We Focus on Calculators or Calories?
After going over the numbers, I realized that both methods are beneficial. Every dog is different and for many dogs, using a raw feeding calculator makes life easier and this is the right tool for Rodrigo and Scout, as long as I'm only using it as a guideline and not as a rule.
On the other hand, knowing how many calories my dogs are consuming is equally important. It doesn't matter if I reduce Sydney's meals to 2% of her body weight if she's eating a high-calorie meal.
As I said, this is my first crack at this and I have more studying to do and will update this post when I confirm that the calories and calculations are correct. My goal is to create a spreadsheet that will help me quickly calculate how many calories my dogs are munching on daily as well as identify the nutrients in each meal.
This is going to be fun #NerdParadise – stay tuned.