So, we were telling you last week about the kibble conundrum and how hard it is to figure out exactly how much kibbles your dog should be eating. The kibble people make it super ridiculously hard to figure it out and their guidelines? Not so helpful. Based on the super hard mathematical equation it takes to figure out how much food your dog should get, we can totally understand why people reach for a low-fat, diet kibble when the waistline get a little lumpy. In fact, I used to be one of those pups that ate a “diet” food. Gee, if the Mama knew then what she knows now…I’d have been a much more satisfied pup!
Diet kibble: Is it an easy way to cut calories or are all these weight loss formulas just some slick marketing?
Let’s take a look at a popular kibble brand on the market. It’s a decent kibble that contains some higher quality grains. Not the best food out there, in my humble opinion, but a good higher-middle of the road, reasonably affordable choice. A review of their bag labels revealed that their Chicken and Rice Adult formula has 442 calories/cup. Their weight formula? 415 calories/cup. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like a big difference to me. Less than 30 calories difference? That’s it! What the bark? If these “healthy weight” formulas are designed to help your pet get slim and stay slim, they certainly aren’t doing it by cutting calories.
So how do most diet foods work?
Most (not all) weight management dog foods work in a few ways.
- The protein content is slightly lower. There is typically less meat in diet kibbles. *I like meat*. It’s the best part of the kibbles. I want lots and lots of meat in my dog food.
- Diet foods have a significantly reduced fat content. Fat has more than double the calories than protein and carbohydrates do, so it seems like a logical place to cut back right? Reduce the fat, reduce the weight. Simple. Only there is a catch. There’s always a catch. While fat packs a heavy calorie punch, it it is also the element that lets you feel full and satisfied.. Think of how your human feels after a salad and how you feel after a cheese burger. The salad is much much lower in fat, but it also lacks that same satisfaction you might get from the burger.
- So if the healthy weight food has less fat and less protein than the regular kibble, but almost the same calories, JUST WHERE are all these calories coming from? Grain. I might have mentioned it once or twice before, but I’m not a huge fan of grain in pet food to begin with, so any formula that has more grain, is not going to get a paw print of approval from me.
- So now you have this food with less fat and less protein that is less satisfying. Guess what? You’re also going to get less of it. That’s right. First they take all the good stuff out AND they’re going to make sure you don’t get as much of it. Diet foods usually recommend a reduced serving. For a dog my size, the food we looked at above recommends 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of the regular formula and only 1 – 1 1/4 cups of the diet food. It just seems mean to me! Since you aren’t feeling very satisfied, pups on weight management kibbles tend to beg for more or want snacks between meals. Since it’s a diet kibble, may people think “What’s the Harm” and they dobn’t hesitate to throw you that extra cookie. A surprislingly large number of dogs don’t actually lose weight on these reduced-fat kibbles, rather, they gain!
- Feed the right amount. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing how much your dog should be eating. Even if you aren’t a math-magician, you can do it! If you get stuck, just e-mail us at kolchakpuggle (at) gmail (dot) com and we are happy to help!
- Keep your favourite kibbles, but reduce the portion. When you want to get lean, try reducing your serving by 15 – 20% and substituting a cup or two of fresh or frozen cooked vegetables to your dog’s diet. Keep things fresh by rotating using green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, spinach, Brussels sprouts or other dog dog friendly veggies. Try not to use the same veggie all the time. Each has it’s own unique nutrient profile and you wouldn’t want your pet to get way to much of something. Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams. They aren’t going to help here!
- Need a little more help than the veggies can give you? In addition to supplementing with garden goodness, consider replacing only 1/3 of the kibbles you get with the low fat version. You’ll still get enough of the good stuff to feel full and cut back at the same time.
- Cut the cookies. Most dog treats, particularly the biscuits and bones style treats, are crazy high in calories. Did you know that 1 large Milkbone has 115 calories in it?! Holy vick. That is…a lot. For me, that few bites of cookie represents more than 15% of the calories I should get ALL DAY! A Busy Bone has 600 calories. OMD! That practically is my whole day. Reserve these calorie intense treats for *really* special occasions and use them sparingly.
- Snack Smarter.
The best snacks you can give your pup are actually the same foods that YOU should be eating too! VEGETABLES! There is actually nothing me and Felix love more than a good snack of fresh, frozen or canned veggies. One great choice is frozen green beans, with only around 38 calories in a WHOLE CUP, these pack a lot of snack for not many calories. You can also try steamed broccoli and cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, beets, or sweet peppers. Or for a bit of a treat, try watermelon, apple or pear slices. Baby carrots are good for a nice crunchy snack; try giving one or two of these in place of a cookie. Want a meaty treat? Try whole meat snack like chicken or duck jerky, cut into bite sized pieces. Got one of those humans that likes to cook? Check out our healthy treat recipes for Lean and Green Treats or Tuna Tasties! We’re featuring a great and good for you treat recipe every Tuesday during K9 Kamp. Stop by on Tasty Tuesday to check out the newest snacks!
- Shake Your Tailfeathers! K9 Kamp is all about ways to get fit and have fun with your dogs. Take frequent brisk walks, play a rousing game of fetch or work it out with a game of tug of war. For those who need a little more motivation or structure, check out organised activities like agility and flyball.
What do you do to stay lean and mean? We would love to hear your secrets to a good doggy diet!