How to Calculate Your Pets Caloric Needs

Obesity is a growing epidemic for pets. Even some well meaning owners allow their pets to become overweight. It can be hard to refuse giving your pet extra treats, and with today's hectic schedules it can sometimes be hard to give our pets the exercise they need.

You don't have to stop giving your pets treats, but if you give them a lot of treats one day you can make up for the extra calories by feeding less of your pets regular food.

If your pet is already overweight, or even if your pet is a healthy weight and you just want to make sure it stays that way, the first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your furry friend is to find out how many calories a day your pet should be eating. It's a step that's often times overlooked, but healthy eating habits are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Knowing about how many calories your pet needs a day can help you plan their meals. Did you know that many pet food companies overestimate the amount of food they tell you to give your pet each day? Pet food companies are, like any other company, out to make money. The more of their food your pet eats, the more often you will have to purchase their product, the more money they make.

If you know how many calories your pet should be getting each day, you can calculate the amount of food to feed them according to their individual needs. Also, knowing how much food your pet should get a day can help you to determine and offset how many treats your pet gets. You don't have to stop giving your pets treats, but if you give them a lot of treats one day you can make up for the extra calories in the treats by feeding less of your pets regular food.

So how do you determine how many calories a day your pet needs?

For a dog, the formula (Dogs body weight in kg X 30 + 70 = Daily calorie requirement) can be used as a base line for figuring out about how many calories a day your dog needs. Keep in mind that 1 kilogram is 2.2 pounds. So a dog that weighs 20 lbs weighs about 9 kgs. If we plug 9kgs into the formula, we get 340. So a dog weighting 20 pounds needs about 340 calories a day to maintain his or her current weight.

This number, however, is only a baseline. Dogs that are more active, young, pregnant or lactating, or kept in extreme temperatures will need more calories per day to maintain their weight. Always keep an eye on your dogs physical condition. If he/she starts to gain weight, you can reduce the amount of food per day. If the opposite occurs and your dog starts to loose too much weight, increase the amount of food you feed daily.

For a cat, the formula (Cats body weight in kg X 30 = Daily calorie requirement) is similar to dogs.

After you find out about how many calories your pet needs per day, you can calculate how much food to feed them based on the numbers on the back of your pets food bag. Pet foods should list calorie content in same way that human foods do.

How much you feed your pet should take into account other factors such as your pets activity level, age, and metabolism.  Keep a watchful eye on your pets waistline.  There are a lot of factors that can influence how much food our pets' need to maintain their weight, so calculating how many calories to feed them isn't an exact science.  An observant owner should notice when/if Fido is starting to get a little too 'fluffy'.  If you are unsure about what a healthy weight for your pet is, talk with your veterinarian.  Stay proactive about your pets weight to prevent him/her from becoming part of the pet obesity epidemic.