I have a yellow lab, 8 years old, who currently weighs 100 lbs. I know he’s overweight and he’s been developing arthritis, so I’ve been trying since October to get him down to at least 85 lbs.
I had been giving him 3 cups a day of food which, with treats, totaled about 1100 calories. He wasn’t losing weight. Then, I found out that my neighbor had been giving him 2 packs of peanut butter crackers every day, and I never even knew, which stopped 2 weeks ago. This was why he wasn’t losing weight. Also, he was mostly sedentary before, but now I walk him most days during the week.
I met with my vet this week and she said to cut him back to 2.5 cups of food and 3 treats a day, which comes out to about 900 calories. I also put green beans on his food. However, we also recently cut him off from all the food from the neighbors. I am wondering, is this change in the amount of food too drastic? Should it decreased at intervals over several weeks? I want to be sure that he’s on a healthy diet, but also that he’s not miserable. Is this calorie amount too low?
I believe I can trust my vet, but I want a second opinion just to be sure.
I’m grateful for any advice. Thanks in advance!
Hound Dog MomParticipant
Hi jlake88 –
No one can really tell you for sure if the calorie count is too low to too high because calorie requirements can vary drastically from dog to dog based on factors such as the obvious size and activity level, but also lean body mass, stress level, age, whether or not the dog is spayed or neutered, environment, breed, etc. For example, I have a 110 lb. unaltered 7 yo. male and a 8 mo. 70 lb. altered female that are both currently eating 2,500 kcal. per day and then I have a 2 yo. 68 lb. altered female that is eating 2,700 kcal. per day. All three are the same breed, kept in the same conditions and have roughly the same activity level. It would seem that my large unaltered male or my growing pup would need more calories than my spayed adult, but that’s not the case – I recently had to bump her intake up because she started to lose weight she didn’t need to be losing.
What you need to do is closely monitor your dog’s weight. If he starts dropping pounds really quickly – feed him more. If he’s not losing at all – feed him less. I’d say that he should lose no more than 1 – 2 lbs. per week, if he’s losing more than that it’s too quick. A good general recommendation is to feed him the amount recommended on the bag for what he should weight – not what he does weigh (although that’s just a guideline).
Another thing to look into – although I understand it can be a little pricey for large dogs – is a dehydrated or canned food. Not only are dehydrated and canned foods healthier than dry foods (more protein, more moisture, less processed, less carbs), but (due to high moisture content) they are much less calorie-dense so your dog can eat a higher volume of food. I think they’re great for weight loss. For example – on average most kibbles have roughly 400 kcal. per cup; most dehydrated foods have around 500 kcal. per cup but they are re-hydrated with around 1 1/2 C. water bringing that calorie count to 500 kcal. per 2 1/2 C. or 200 kcal. per C.; most canned foods have around 400 kcal. per standard 13.2 oz. can which equates to about 250 kcal. per C. Just some options to consider!
Remember, ultimately, weight loss is about calories in and calories out. If he’s consuming more calories than he’s burning he will not lose weight no matter how little it seems like he’s eating and if he’s burning more calories than he’s consuming he will lose weight. If he’s not losing he’s eating too many calories and intake needs to be decreased and/or exercise needs to be increased.
Good luck! 🙂
I’d also recommend taking body measurements of your lab. Some of my dogs weights didn’t change too much but their body measurements shrank – chest girth and waistline. They ended up being more muscular with less body fat. Look up “body condition score dog”.
One other thing… feeding the right food is just as important, because the calories that your dog gets still need to provide him/her with the proper nutrients. If you’re feeding a low quality food, and cutting back on the calories, your pup may not be getting all it needs to from the food. I recommend grain-free foods that are high in animal-based protein (aka “meat”) and low in carbs (fruits and veggies). Your dog will get more out of that type of food than a one with a high carb content, ensuring that your dog loses weight without losing out somewhere else.
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