Jasmine lost some weight when we were away. She’s now about 10.5 pounds–just right for her. She was over 11 pounds when we last took her to the vet. Even with the long walks, she was getting a little pudgy. It’s hard to regulate food and treats for a low-energy dog. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been cutting back a little on her meals to compensate for the treats she’s been getting during the day.
While I was out buying her California Natural pet food, I found that the manufacturer (Natura) makes a treat called Health Bars. Made from a similar formula as their Innova dog food, it’s a balance of good, healthy ingredients and crunchy texture. I like the fact that it’s focused on providing balanced nutrition rather than just acting as a method to reward and/or clean teeth. So, we’ve been using these treats as part of her daily nutrition as well as a reward. However, that means that her meal volume has to be reduced.
The best way to figure out how much food a dog needs every day is based upon a simple calorie calculation. Just like humans, dogs need a certain amount of calories to maintain, lose or gain weight. This number is based upon factors such as life stage, age, activity and environment. I found a decent Metabolic Energy Requirement calculator on the My Cocker Spaniel site. Natura Pet (the dog food manufacturer) also has calculators for feeding as well. But remember that the amount of food is based upon the total caloric requirements (Metabolic Engery Requirements). Using that base figure, calculate how much food you need to feed after factoring in the treats you feed your dog every day.
At 10.5 pounds and sedentary, Jasmine needs about 341 calories a day. Jasmine gets 1 Tablespoon of California Natural Chicken and Rice canned food and 1/4 cup of California Natural Chicken and Rice Adult Dry food plus 1/4 cup of water. While the canned food has about 13.5 ounces of food by weight, by volume, we get about 18 servings, which is equivalent to about 30 calories per serving. The dry kibble has about 511 calories per cup. Given these figures, Jasmine gets about 158 calories per meal. She’s getting two meals per day so she’s getting about 316 calories a day in meals–just about what she needs.
However, treats need to be factored in. The small Health Bars have about 50 calories each. Milk-Bone biscuits have 20 to 30 calories each (depending on size and flavor). Dingo Mini Bones are less than 1/2 ounce each and probably have about the same amount of calories as other typical treats (they don’t include caloric information, so I’m just assuming 50 calories each). So, one Dingo bone and a Health Bar could mean up to an extra 100 calories a day–almost 1/3 more than her metabolic needs! No wonder Jasmine has been gaining weight!
Given what I’ve learned about Jasmine’s caloric needs, if we cut down her kibble to 1/8 cup in the evening and still give her treats, we’ll be just right. It may seem hard to gauge, but until I started doing the math, it was just a “guess.” By calculating her energy requirements and figuring out how much I’m feeding her, I have a precise method to determine how much to adjust her food on a day-to-day basis to ensure her health.
Jasmine has become much more food-oriented and is always up for a treat–unlike when she first came to us and didn’t like anything but soft food and treats. Treats are a way to train and reward, but let’s face it–it’s just plain fun to give her treats. These tools will help me keep her slim, trim and healthy. I guess my good habits have rubbed off on how I treat her. I’ve gone from a size 10 or 12 to a size 2 or 4 over the last year in a similar matter. Jasmine has had everything to do with that–the daily walks have done both of us good!