I frequently get asked how I keep Gretel and Chester so trim. Really, it is no secret. It’s just like with people: calories in vs. calories out.
Measuring calories can be hard though. Don’t get me wrong – I am not suggesting that you could every calorie your dog eats and expends like a Weight Watchers Program. It’s really difficult to do that anyway. Most dog foods don’t have calories on the label like people food (although I do see it more and more). There is no doggie exercise calculator that I know of ti tell how many they are burning.
However, I do generally estimate how many calories they eat a day (or sometimes actually look it up because I am nerdy like that). I also make sure they get plenty of exercise. Instead of counting calories, I can tell if they are getting tubby and need more exercise or less food by how they look.
The inforgraphic below does a better job of telling you how to tell if your dog is overweight, or highlighting the health complications they may have if they are, than I can. It also tells you approximately how many calories your dog should be eating.
I would stress approximately. According to the infographic, Chester and Gretel only need 180 to 200 calories a day. They would never make it on that! I feed them 1/3 cup food twice a day plus treats. I estimate that their average daily intake is 275 calories. When they visited the vet the other day she said they actually need to gain a half pound each!
You know your own dog’s needs. If they are a puppy, nursing, chubby or just super active you may need to feed them more. If they are senior or don’t get much exercise they may need less. You can use the rules at the bottom of the inforgraphic to tell which your dog needs.