What makes the best food for less active dogs?
By Rudy Leschke —
2 Minute Read
Breeds + Lifestyle
Is your pup a couch potato, much preferring a lazy day lounging around the house to a walk outside? While they may be the perfect binge-watching cuddle buddy, as your pup’s activity level decreases, so do their daily calorie requirements. Unfortunately, overfeeding – including feeding amounts intended for normal activity – can quickly result in obesity, which comes with a myriad of other health concerns. So, while it may be okay to share a couple kernels of popcorn while enjoying your favorite show, it’s important to consider a “lighter” diet for your less active pup.
3 Primary needs for Inactive Dogs:
- A food with fewer calories that can be consumed in a larger volume.
- A food that is nutrient rich, so restricted feedings do not result in nutrient deficiency.
- The correct feeding instructions for a dog’s individual size & level of activity.
Calories, Fat & Fiber
The advantage of a low-calorie diet is that your pup can eat the same amount of food as they would on a typical maintenance diet, just at a lower calorie content.
For example, an active 35-lb adult dog would consume 2 ½ cups of a 4,000 kcal/kg diet, and an inactive 35-lb adult dog would consume 2 ½ cups of a 3,100 kcal/kg diet (based on an equal density of 100 grams per cup).
AAFCO defines a lean or low-fat diet as one having no more than 9% fat, which would correspond to about 3,200 – 3,500 kcal per kilogram.
The second option for a less active pet is to alter the feeding instructions for a food designed for maintenance (i.e. feed smaller amounts of a maintenance diet).
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that when feeding amounts change, nutrient delivery in relationship to food nutrient content needs to be more closely examined. What is designed for normally active adults may not be appropriate for inactive dogs. For dogs with unusually low energy intake, the recommended nutrient allowances should be determined based on the equivalent body weights of normally active dogs, rather than simply on dry matter food composition or on an energy basis. In this way, the nutrient density per kcal is somewhat higher, ensuring adequate nutrient delivery. With this adjustment, all of the other recommendations designed for an adult maintenance food can be applied.
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