I’ve just begun my self education into better dog nutrition and weight loss and could use some advice. I have a 7 year old female lab that weighs 80lbs. We travel a lot and thus her activity level varies week to week from very little when it’s just her and I at home to highly active when we she’s with her 3 year old Australian Shepard cousin. I determined she’s a 7 on the body condition scale and that her ideal weight is likely around 65lbs -70lbs. Based on Internet searches, talking to people, and using the different formulas I’ve come up with a wide range of recommended daily calorie intake, from 850-1400, to get her to her ideal weight. I’ve been feeding her 1300 cal/day for a couple weeks and was going to drop it closer to 1000 as I haven’t seen any weight loss. When I started this weight loss campaign I also switched her from blue buffalo to a mix of Fromm Gold senior (3 cups/1077kcal) and honest kitchen Keen (.5 cup/235kcal) I was advised to put her on a senior food based on her age and activity level but the senior foods typically have less protein and from my research I’m seeing that a lot of people recommend higher protein. The protein/ fat amounts for these foods are 23/11 and 21/15, respectively.
Aside from needing to shed a few pounds she has no other health problems and recently got blood work done everything came back great. She just turned 7 a week ago and I want to get her in optimal health so she’s with me for a very long time. The plan is to keep researching and learn all I can about dog nutrition and start adding in raw and better foods as I figure out what those are…
So, does anyone have thoughts or advice on the calorie intake, food choices, protein amount?
Take her swimming, Aquatic Therapy. One minute of swimming = four minutes of running.
My dog is thriving since I’ve been taking him to the lake at least 3 X a week.
My veterinary clinic offers a heated pool and underwater treadmill, if it was within my budget I would try that.
No free feeding, 2 meals per day (measured amounts) I tend not to use senior dog food and add a little cooked lean meat to kibble……. it depends on the individual dog as to what food would be best, trial and error.
I’ve always had Labs and mine have all been “easy keepers”, meaning that they had low energy requirements. If your Lab is an “easy keeper” then for weight loss you’ll be decreasing calories down to a point at which you need to watch nutrient levels to ensure that all nutrient needs are being met on fewer calories.
You have a good start by measuring her food. Did you measure her food before starting her on a weight loss program? If you did, the best way to know how many calories to feed for weight loss is to cut back about 15-20% from the number of calories she was consuming. A reasonable weight loss goal would be 1-2% a week. If she isn’t loosing then you need to decrease calories/ increase exercise or both and then weigh her the next week and adjust as needed to reach a 1-2% /week weight loss.
In regards to protein. an easy rule of thumb is 1 grams for each lb ideal body weight. So if her ideal is 70 lbs that means 70 grams protein a day. Currently with the 3 cups Fromm and .5 cup Keen you are feeding about 78 grams a day. If you decrease the calories to 1000 calories, ~25% decrease, the protein intake drops to ~ 60 grams. She’ll still be meeting NRC recommended amount at that level but you might want to switch to a food geared for weight loss that has a higher percentage of calories coming from protein.
Another rule of thumb is if you are feeding less than 80 % of the manufacturer recommended amount than you need to change foods.
This article is very comprehensive in regards to weight loss https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/weight_management_guidelines.pdf
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