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Best low-calorie dog food?

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  • Best low-calorie dog food?

    My 5 1/2 year old Border Collie/Blue Heeler needs to go on a diet. She's a very active dog, currently getting 1 cup of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Health Weight a day. Gets a small Milk-Bone each day before I leave for work. Gets the occasional table scrap. During the week, most of her day is inside as we work, but in the evenings & weekends she's playing outside.

    She's currently 44.5lb's. Vet said her ideal weight should be 38-40lbs. She's actually really healthy, and has great muscle in her hind end. But just a little too chunky in her middle section. Ugh.

    I like the Blue Buffalo brand, Wellness as well. What are your favorite low-calorie dog foods? Vet recommended I switch her to something lower-calorie, but weight-watchers for dogs is making my head spin, lol.

    TIA for any suggestions!
    <3 Vinnie <3
    1992-2010
    Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

  • #2
    Low calorie usually means more fiber and carbs. If you do want to feed less calories you could drop down to 3/4 cup. I know an active 50 lb dog that gets 1-2 hours of hard exercise a day who only eats 1 cup of kibble. Some dogs just have a really effective digestive tract and utilize every last calorie.

    Personally, I'd cut the table scraps and turn part of that unstructured play time into a 20 minute walk and build up to a 45 minute walk at least 3-4 days a week. Playing burns way less calories than structured exercise because the mini breaks when they play doesn't keep their heart rate up the same way and it doesn't burn calories like a long cardio workout.

    It is my pet peeve when I ask for advice on (a) and people give advice on (b) instead but in this situation I don't think you should downgrade the quality of food to cut weight. Maybe volume but not quality.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd avoid the vast majority of "low calorie" dog foods- most "diet" dog foods are very high in carbs and have very unhealthy ingredients. Several studies have shown that dogs tend to lose body fat fastest and healthiest if they are fed very low-carb diets, so feeding one of the high-carb "diet" dog foods is actually counter-productive. Many people report their pets act lethargic, lose muscle mass, or actually gain body fat when put on the usual kind of high-carb high-fiber diet foods. Not to mention that the calorie content per cup of many of these so-called "reduced calorie" foods is amazingly varied- many contain more calories per cup than foods labeled as "regular".

      If you like your current food, your easiest course is to just feed less of it. If the dog seems hungry, you can add green beans or try feeding the dog out of a food-dispensing toy (make the dog work for it and eat slowly).

      If you want to look for a low-carb kibble, keep in mind they don't usually list carbs on the label, so you'll want to look for a kibble that is very high in protein (40% or more) and moderate in fat (18% to 20%). Some of the higher-protein foods make "reduced fat" versions, but you'll notice if you do some math that these foods can be rather high in carbs- if you reduce the fat, the carb content goes up, by necessity, because it has to all add to 100% in the end.

      Unfortunately most of the low-carb kibbles tend to be very calorie-dense, so you have to feed very small quantitites of it to your dog to get weight loss.
      An alternative is feeding a low-carb canned diet- bulkier due to the water content. If you like Wellness, they make a canned stew that is fairly low in calories and has nice ingredients and a lower carb content. Freshpet, which is sold out of the fridge case in some pet stores and groceries, is a lower-carb high quality "fresh" food that, due to the water content, is also quite low in calories per cup, and it has excellent ingredients. They have a "Vital" line that is harder to find that is quite similar in ingredients to a good raw diet, and yes, is low in carbs and low in calories per cup.
      The easiest way to get very low-carb is to feed a raw diet- many people report the fat just melts off their dog once they switch to a raw diet.
      One popular lower-carb kibble that is also lower in calories per cup is Taste of the Wild.


      other tips: get rid of the milk-bones. Those things are disgustingly unhealthy, and add nothing to the diet but more carbs. If you must treat the dog, give her some chicken. Table scraps are a healthy addition to the diet, but make sure you cut back on the kibble when you add them.
      And how is this dog active? you say she's in the house all day, and in the evenings she's "playing outside"? you mean you just put her out in the yard? most dogs get remarkably little exercise from just being put out in a yard. We put a GPS unit for joggers on a few dogs who were put out in yards, including one dog who was put out on a 100-acre farm, and none of the dogs managed to cover so much as a single mile in the entire time they were out.
      You have to EXERCISE your dog- make the dog move at a brisk trot for at least 30 minutes at least 3 days a week (bare minimum). If the dog will fetch, make her run hard up a hill to fetch several times a day. Hire a jogger to take her along. Try weight-pulling. I don't consider a dog to be "active" unless they spend more than two hours a day engaging in intense structured exercise activities. Consider that a working herding dog would probably run over 10 miles per day every day working sheep, and compare that to your dog wandering around in the yard. No comparison.

      Comment


      • #4
        I see you feed Blue Buffalo wilderness healthy weight- it's 30% protein/ 10% fat. I calculated the % calories, and you'll see this food provides about 39% of its calories from carbohydrates, and it is about 400 kcal/cup. regular Blue buffalo wilderness, just for comparison, provides 28% of its calories from carbohydrates and has 410 kcal/cup. For weight-loss purposes, the regular formula is preferable- lower carbs, better ingredients, and practically no difference in calories per cup vs. the so-called diet formula.

        a commercial dry raw diet, stella and chewy dehydrated, by comparison provides only 13% of its calories from carbohydrates; it's hard to compare calories per cup but if you crumbled it up into a kibble-like form I'd guess it provides about 450 kcal/cup.

        Freshpet vital provides only 10% of its calories from carbohydrates, and it is around 200 kcal/cup.

        Wellness canned stews provide about 15% of calories from carbohydrates, and have around 150 kcal/cup.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by wendy View Post
          And how is this dog active? you say she's in the house all day, and in the evenings she's "playing outside"? you mean you just put her out in the yard? most dogs get remarkably little exercise from just being put out in a yard. We put a GPS unit for joggers on a few dogs who were put out in yards, including one dog who was put out on a 100-acre farm, and none of the dogs managed to cover so much as a single mile in the entire time they were out.
          You have to EXERCISE your dog- make the dog move at a brisk trot for at least 30 minutes at least 3 days a week (bare minimum). If the dog will fetch, make her run hard up a hill to fetch several times a day. Hire a jogger to take her along. Try weight-pulling. I don't consider a dog to be "active" unless they spend more than two hours a day engaging in intense structured exercise activities. Consider that a working herding dog would probably run over 10 miles per day every day working sheep, and compare that to your dog wandering around in the yard. No comparison.
          Active as in when I come home on lunch, we play fetch outside for about 15 minutes. When we come home around 4pm, she's outside for at least 1-2 hours running up & down our hilly yard fetching her football. And on Fridays (when my husband is home), and weekends, she's outside the majority of the days with us as we do lots of yard work, doing lots of running on the hills again either fetching or hiking with us in our woods. I'd say she's pretty active, and we do exercise her to the best of our ability with full time jobs.
          <3 Vinnie <3
          1992-2010
          Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks for the suggestions everybody! Will probably get a couple bags of baby carrots as treats instead of the milk-bones as she loved thiefing carrots from our garden this summer. Will also read some food labels, and see what's out there. Thanks again!
            <3 Vinnie <3
            1992-2010
            Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

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