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Dog (And Cat) Weight Management

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Patrick Miles, DVM is owner and veterinarian at Priceless Pet Clinic in Normandy Park WA. He has worked in emergency medicine since graduating veterinary school and spent seven years at Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services.

Always consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s nutritional concerns. Your veterinary will be able to guide you in deciding if your dog is under or over weight and be able to guide you toward the best nutritional choices.

How much food to feed a dog?

In general, we do tend to see a lot of overweight pets. I think one of the challenges there is often times if we are reading the recommended feeding schedule on the bag of food, which is required to be on those bags. Often, we as humans don’t feel that that is enough volume of food for their pet. They look at that and think boy that really just would not satisfy me, and they anthropomorphize that on to their pets. So, we do see quite a bit of obesity, so we really need to be looking at nutritional content more than we do with ingredients and again, following very closely with the feeding requirements on the pet food label.

Who should you talk to about weight management? 

Your veterinarian certainly can help you discern what the ideal weight for your pet should be and different ways to go about making sure that they are getting the adequate nutrition.

The Pet Food Institute and its members are committed to helping dogs and cats live long and healthy lives. They advocate for legislation, regulations, and technologies that support the domestic manufacture and global distribution of safe, quality pet food and that provide for consumer choice.

How to manage your dog’s or cat’s weight?

Four steps to keeping your dog’s weight healthy:

  1. Avoid feeding table scraps
  2. Monitor the amount of food you feed your pet
  3. Linit treats to 10% of their daily intake
  4. Engage in plenty of exercise

Exercise is a crucial component to ensuring pet health and well-being. Regular exercise also strengthens your bond with your pet. A few examples of ways to keep your pet active and engaged include:

Dog Exercises:

Cat Exercises:

  • Setting up a cat tower with small treats to encourage climbing and playing;
  • Keeping plenty of household toys around to encourage play;
  • Using a laser pointer or wand-style toy for interactive exercises; and
  • Tempting your cat with hidden treats in a toy for batting and knocking practice.[2]

The calories cats and dogs need to consume daily to maintain their weight is far less than what people need. Healthy adult people generally should consume 2,000-2,500 calories per day. In comparison, according to the standard formula used to calculate the daily caloric needs of pets, an average 50-pound, adult neutered dog typically needs just under 1,000 calories daily. An average 10-pound, adult neutered cat needs around 220 calories each day.