Commercial pet food companies are not required to disclose the amount of calories in their pet food on the container label. For 75 years, pet owners have not known how many calories they have been feeding their pets. Since feeding instructions are always in cups or cans, owners assume that the calorie content of pet food brands is roughly the same. Unfortunately that is not the case.
A recent examination of 93 different dog and cat weight management commercial diets revealed some shocking results. The dry dog foods had differences as high as 223 calories per cup of dry food and difference as high as 209 calories per can of wet food. For cats the differences were as high as 245 calories per cup for dry and as high as 94 calories per can of wet food. And this was just an analysis of weight management diets. Regular diets have the same differences.
This means that each time you change pet food brands you need to note the feeding instructions for the new food or you could be under feeding or over feeding your pet. Switching from a low calorie per cup food to a high calorie per cup food without changing the amount of food could result in a pet gaining over 14 lbs. per year!
Also, the instructions are generally for the total daily amount of food and NOT THE MEAL AMOUNTS! The total amount needs to be divided by the number of meals per day to determine each meal size. Label feeding instructions are typically too generous. Always feed at the low end of feeding range indicated for feeding instructions.
The amount of food can always be increased if your dog appears thin (see blog How to Judge a Dog's Fitness for assessing the fitness of your dog.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN