One of the most common questions we hear during an Annual Physical Exam is: “How much food should I be feeding my pet?”
That’s a very good question! Generally speaking, it’s more common for pets to be overweight than underweight!
Before we determine how much a pet should eat, we need to calculate by their ideal weight. This does not mean what they are actually weighing at the moment. It means that, if a pet should weigh 70lbs but he/she actually weighs 90lbs, we still need to feed them as if they were 70lbs. This is because base metabolism is calculated based on ideal weight. To understand this better, let me use an example:
Let’s compare two people. One person weighs 150lbs and the second one, a football player, weighs 250lbs. Both are in great shape and are at their ideal weight. But their base metabolism is different because of their height/build/muscle mass. If the first person gains 100lbs of fat and becomes 250lbs, does that mean he should now eat the same amount as the second person (the 250lb football player)? No. That’s because even if we gain fat, our base metabolism is calculated based on our ideal weight.
Similarly, when we’re looking at an overweight pet, we need to figure out their ideal weight before calculating how much food they should be eating. When your pet is in for their annual exam, your veterinarian should tell you what their ideal weight is.
Once we have a pet’s ideal weight, we can look at the instructions on the pet food package to find the recommended amount. Keep in mind that this recommendation is usually for pets with an active lifestyle and it’s common for a family pet to not need as much food as what’s printed on the packages. So for most pets, we can start with the lower end of the recommendation, and then adjust up/down as needed.
If you have any questions or concerns the Royal York Animal Hospital Veterinary Medical Team is here to help. If you do not know what your pet’s ideal weight SHOULD be then bring him in so we can get a current accurate weight, compare with previous visits for weight gain/loss and help you determine the proper quantity to feed.
Dr. Lilla Yan
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