How do I track calories for my dog?

Helping your dog lose weight safely and effectively

If your dog needs to lose some extra pounds, reducing their calories is one of the best things you can do for them. But how do you know how much your dog is eating, how much they should be eating, and how many calories they burn on a daily basis?

The information below will help you understand and track your dog’s calories.

Tracking Calories In

Before your veterinarian can recommend a target calorie goal for weight loss, they’ll need to understand how many calories your dog currently consumes.

You can download this CARE calorie log to record all the food and treats your dog eats in one week. Do NOT start your dog’s diet this week. Tracking your dog’s normal calorie intake will help your veterinarian make better recommendations for weight loss.

The weekly log will allow your veterinarian to calculate how many calories your dog takes in every day. From there, it will be easier for your veterinarian to determine the optimal number of calories they should be eating to reach an ideal body weight.

Discuss with your veterinarian the optimal type and brand of food for your dog. Your veterinarian can also recommend the best treats to give your dog and how many they can get per day. Your dog shouldn’t feel starved on their diet!

Tracking Calories Out

Exercise is an important aspect of overall health and fitness.  Exercise burns calories, but in an overweight dog, they don’t burn enough calories exercising to make up for calorie restriction.

That’s why limiting calories and helping your dog get regular exercise are both needed for effective long-term weight management.

The best form of exercise is regular, controlled activities such as walking, hiking, and swimming. “Weekend-warrior” outings alone are likely to lead to injury, which is why some daily exercise is best.

Just like people, dogs can enroll in a fitness training program 2-3 times/week in which their exercise sessions are tailored specifically for their needs.  These types of programs are very effective in kickstarting a weight loss program. Many rehabilitation veterinarians will also provide weight loss/conditioning programs (Click here to find one near you!)

Talk to your veterinarian about how much time your dog should spend exercising each day.