Calories can be deceiving

Author: Jakki Papp

Pet obesity is something we see commonly in the clinic, though some pets may be overweight for a medical reason (ie. Thyroid condition) the usual culprit is in fact over-eating. It’s amazing how easily we can over-feed our pets and this can add up fast for them. Just like with us, our pets have an allotted caloric intake for the day which varies by body condition, activity level and age.

For example, a 22 lb dog of average activity level should be getting around 575 calories per day, depending on the food that’s approximately 1 ½ measured cups a day. This is without factoring in any treats! Take a look at the chart below and think about the treats you give your pet a day.

Treat – Human Food Calories Treats – Pets Calories
Apples  – 1 cup slices 57 Beggin Strips – 1 30
Banana – 1” slice 51 Benny Bullies – 1 square 8
Baby Carrot  – 1 4 C.E.T. Chews Lg – 1 65
Bacon – 1 slice 43 C.E.T. HextraChew Lg – 1 86
Buttered Toast – ¼ slice 22 Denta Bone Medium – 1 188
Cauliflower – 1 piece 3 Greenies K9 Petite – 1 59
Cheddar Cheese – 1 cubic inch 68 Greenies K9 Large – 1 152
Chicken Breast Roasted – 1oz 57 Greenies Feline – 1 1.25
Dairy Queen Kids Cone – 1 170 Medi-Chews Small  – 1 42
McNugget  – 1 47 Medi-Chews Large – 1 70
French Fry – 1 9 Medi-Treats Fel – 1 1.5
Peanut Butter – 1 tbsp 94 Medi-Treats K9 – 1 14
Scrambled Eggs – 1 tbsp 20 Milk Bone Small – 1 10
Sirloin Steak – 1 oz 69 Milk Bone Large – 1 115
Timbit – Old Fash Plain – 1 50 Pill Pockets – 1 23
Snausages – 1 25
Temptations Feline – 1 2
Veggiedent Regular – 1 115

So, let’s say you give your 22 lb dog a Timbit, a Greenie and a Beggin’ Strip over the course of a day and maybe they snag a little table scrap of chicken at dinner time, that’s 196 extra calories. The common mistake here is not re-calculating your pet’s food for the day.  With this amount of treats your pet should be now getting 379 calories from their normal food. This would reduce their food down to 1 cup instead of 1 ½ cups of kibble.

However, the total amount of treats/extras your pet should receive in a day should not add up to more than 10% of their total daily calories.  So 57 calories out of his 575 can come from treats/extras, but this then leaves him with only 518 calories for his kibble for the rest of the day which is closer to 1 ¼ cups per day.

Now, let’s talk cup size. Another common mistake is taking the “cup” for granted. Have a look at it, some cups have lines to show where 1 cup is, and sometimes it is to the top. Some people use different items to scoop the food – another bowl, a child’s plastic cup or a scoop, a coffee mug. It is important to measure to ensure your pet is eating the correct amount. An even more accurate way to measure your pet’s food is by weight and it has been proven to help when weight loss is the goal.

We do offer nutritional counselling at the clinic, if you are concerned about your pet’s weight or would just like advice on how to keep their already excellent physique in tip top shape, give us a call and set up a time to talk to one of our lovely technicians! There are some math calculations involved with nutrition and our trained technicians can help to figure out the right amount of food for Fido.  Remember it’s easier to keep the weight off than it is to lose it!