You have an idea of how many calories per day you should consume, but how does that compare to your dog's calorie intake?
We have more in common with our furry friends than we might think at first glance! Just like human beings, every dog needs a unique-to-them calorie intake. This can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, so it’s important to look holistically at your dog’s activity level, age, size, and other characteristics to determine how many they’ll need.
When your dog doesn’t get the right amount of food, you might notice that they don’t act like themselves, or that they’re otherwise unwell. This could be due to a lack of necessary nutrients. In addition to having the right amount of calories, it’s also essential that your pet has the right type of calories. This means feeding them food that bolsters their overall health, not food that slows them down.
If all of this sounds like a lot to take into account, that’s because it can be! Luckily, we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know regarding your dog’s calorie intake.
A General Formula Used By Some Veterinarians
There’s actually a mathematical way to figure out how many calories your dog needs to eat. Some veterinarians use this formula to help their clients figure out how much their pups should consume. In order to calculate the number of calories your dog needs to eat, you can utilize this formula.
However, using a general number doesn’t consider unique, specific factors that will be specific to any individual to dog. And keep in mind that this is used only to determine your dog’s maintenance energy requirements. Dogs who need to gain or lose weight require a different approach and you should consult with your vet for their recommendation.
If you are feeding Sundays, use our online feeding calculator for the most accurate starting point and you can check out this helpful guide. If your dog is particularly active or has a high metabolism, real world feeding requirements can be higher, as much as 2x, so you can experiment with higher feeding amounts, just watch out for unintended weight gain. Similar adjustments may need to be made for less active dogs as well.
What’s Maintenance Energy?
You saw the term ‘maintenance energy’ in the above formula, so you might be wondering what exactly that means. We have a definition that you can use to help you better understand.
When we talk about maintenance energy, we’re referring to how much energy your pup requires for basic metabolic functions. In addition to that, it also refers to how much is needed to maintain body weight. This, again, demonstrates the necessity to provide your dog with the correct amount of calories. The above formula specifically sheds light on this because serious problems could arise if your pet’s calorie intake isn’t high enough.
If your dog isn’t getting enough calories, their body won’t be able to keep up with basic functions. This could ultimately contribute to the detriment and decay of their body long-term.
Factors That Affect Caloric Needs
As we mentioned earlier, caloric needs are certainly not one-size-fits-all! That means that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to how many calories your pet needs to eat every day. We’ll run through some factors that can impact your pet in this way.
Neutered vs. Not Neutered
The first factor you should take into account when determining your pet’s caloric requirements is if they’re neutered or not. When your pet gets neutered, they’re at what can be referred to as a “nutritional milestone.” This means that if you don’t make an adjustment to their food intake, they’re going to gain weight. This is because getting your dog neutered causes a decrease in estrogens and androgens. The result? A lower metabolic rate. Therefore, your pet is going to have lower energy needs than they did before. That’s why it is essential that you re-evaluate your pet’s dietary habits after they get this procedure done.
Dog’s Body Condition
Your dog’s body condition also contributes to their caloric needs. As your dog grows, develops, and ages, their body is going to change. As a result, so will the number of calories that they need to eat. Puppies require more protein than adult dogs do, so changing your dog’s food from puppy to adult will impact how many calories they consume. Our USDA-Grade Beef recipe is formulated for a puppy's needs.
Similarly, senior dogs also have different calorie needs than young or adult dogs. Some dogs that are entering their senior years could benefit from having food like our All-Natural Chicken recipe with fewer calories and less fat. A recent study demonstrated older dogs require 20% fewer calories to upkeep their weight than younger dogs do. This could possibly be attributed to activity levels.
Finally, you should take your dog’s activity level into account when you’re deciding how many calories they may need to eat. If your dog is highly active, they’re inevitably going to need more calories than one that doesn’t move a majority of the day.
You can figure out how your dog’s individual activity level factors into how many calories they need to eat by utilizing the aforementioned formula. An option for multipliers includes activity level, so by substituting in the number associated with how active your dog is, you can gain a more robust understanding of their needs.
Dog Food’s Nutrient Profile and Calories
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: it doesn’t matter if you’re giving your dog the right amount of calories if you’re giving them food that isn’t healthy for them. Too many dog foods contain products that you would never intentionally serve your furry friend.
Many dog food brands sneak by with vague ingredients such as “meal meat.” But do you know how many calories these “foods” are providing your dog? What about the nutritional benefits they have—if any?
When you take time to investigate your dog’s food, you’ll be shocked at how many products are created without your pet’s health in mind. Finding the right food for your pup requires a discerning eye and a willingness to dig deeper and figure out what’s really going on beyond the glossy food bag label.
How Ingredients Factor In
When it comes to your dog’s food, ingredients are everything. That’s why we use only the very best. Over 90% of Sundays for Dogs consists of meat, organs, and bones, which your pooch will absolutely love. In addition to that, our food works for picky eaters and is dairy and chicken-free (two super common allergens), and never, ever contains antinutrients or anything sketchy.