How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?

Have you ever counted calories to manage your own weight? Have you ever done it for your cat or dog? Every snack and treat you give your pets adds more calories to their diet and could be sabotaging the diet you have them on.

Today, Dr. Rex Riggs discusses how many calories your dog or cat needs and how many extra calories different treats add to their diet. You might be surprised by what you read.

Dr. Rex Riggs is the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is a veterinarian, and an Advisory Board member of Embrace Pet Insurance.


677092_hungry_dog I wish I had a dime (OK…$10) for every time one of my clients said “but it was just a little piece….” when describing the table scrapes or cookie they gave their animal. 

We need to be careful when supplementing our pet’s diets. 

First, your dog or cat does not need any snacks or table foods, because their diets are nationally balanced.   Secondly, many foods that are fine for us are REALLY BAD for your pet.  Bacon, pork products, milk, chocolate, grapes and raisins are just a few of our favorites snacks that can be dangerous to your animal.  The consequence for feeding these can range from diarrhea and vomiting to kidney disease, seizures and even death.

What I want to concentrate in this article is how we are making our pets fat unintentionally.  

We all love to see an animal “beg” for a treat or “little piece” of whatever we are eating. But are we killing our pets with kindness?  The harmful effects of being overweight are the same as they are for humans.  It has been said an overweight animal can have a 30% shorter lifespan.

Have we really thought just how many calories are in those treats? Why is there no nutritional or calorie information on those treats? Do we stop to think just how much a dog or cat needs calorie wise to maintain his/her weight? Probably not. 

Well…..I am going to tell you. 

Most dogs need about 25 to 30 calories per pound per day to maintain their weight.  You need to figure in, if you dog is a spud or an athlete, whether you need to add or subtract that to that amount.  That means, on average, a 30 lb dog needs around 800 calories daily, and an average cat needs 250 to 300 calories a day.  Really not much. 

The calories in the treats really add up.  The following list are the calorie content of some common treats:

Beggin Stips- 40

Pro Plan Brand Medium Dog Biscuits-32

T-Bonz brand Dog Snacks-45

Chew-eez  Rolls small/medium-171

Busy Bone Ultimate Medium-227

Busy Bone Dental large-443

Beggin Chew large-672 

Shocking huh?  There are so many other treats that are better for your pet with much fewer calories. Some of those are:

Cauliflower (1/4 cup)-6

Carrots 1 medium-19

Cucumbers (1/4 cup)-5

Green beans (1/4 cup) my dog’s favorite-9

Rice cake-40

If you think your animal will not be just as pleased with these as the expensive high calorie treats we buy….try them.  You will be surprised.

Related Obesity Posts:
August is Obesity Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Claim Example: bilateral hip dysplasia surgery in a Golden Retriever
How many calories a dog or cat should eat a day?
What does a healthy dog really look like?
National Holistic Pet Day
Other posts by Dr Riggs


Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie, and two cats Franklin and Speeder. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and enjoys travel and photography.


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