Calories, calories..... we've learned to hate them haven't we?  "It better be worth the calories" is a common phrase heard around the world.  Calories have become a bad word in our quest for the perfect body weight world.  Of course there are good and bad calories.  But calories are a much needed thing in the whole spectrum of running a body.  For our dogs it means energy.  We need calories and so do our dogs. 

Finding the perfect amount of calories all depends on quality of calories and movement.  Quality calories are made up of foods that a body can use; nutrient filled.  Those calories are eaten, digested and utilized as fuel for energy.  If you do not feed enough of the appropriate species calories then your dog will suffer in the energy department.  What our dog's bodies cannot use for fuel will be evacuated for you to pick up.  I remember seeing a National Geographic video on digestion years and years ago.  It made a huge impact on me.   Through the use of a tiny camera, food was followed through a body.  You could see how each step utilized the nutrition of the food.  It most definitely made me think about the fuel that our body needs to just run, let alone run well. 

Think of that when you put food down for your dog.  How much of that food will be taken and turned into energy?  How much will end up in your backyard as waste?  I'm not a numbers sort of gal; I am a visual person.  Calories for me are seen, not calculated.  I don't use a scale for myself; I rely on the tightness of my pants to remind me to cut back.  For my dogs, I go by feel.  I just noticed yesterday that Elsa has lost a few pounds.  With it being lizard season she has been constantly on lizard watch.  So, she needs more calories at this time of year.  Calorie intake requirements factor in dog size and activity level.  The link below is a great and easy way to give you a general range. 

Stombeck's Home prepared food - calorie chart

I see fat dogs all the time and I hear people saying "I don't feed that much."  They may not be feeding a huge amount but they are either feeding the wrong kind of food or their dog isn't moving enough.  The whole secret of losing weight is moving.  Often a reduction in food is not required; only more movement. 

Article on Weight Management from The Bark magazine.

Funny how we have been programmed to look at a piece of cake and think calories.  But we don't look at a plate of fish and a salad and think calories.  Calories are calories; there are good and bad.  But calories in the true sense of the word are not a bad thing.  Our bodies and our dog's bodies need calories.  The form those calories take is the important part.  Yes, you can have too many or too little; good or bad calories.  Finding the perfect combination of quality and quantity of calories can take a little while to figure out.  Calorie charts are a very general ball park as far as what your dog needs.  Movement and metabolism will factor in the rest. 

I remember as Tilley and Jessie got well into their golden years; having to cut back on their food intake a great deal.  Much more so for Tilley than Jessie though.  Tilley had always been a very active girl but she did have a tendency to carry a little extra weight.  So as she slowed down her food requirements became much less.  The food quality was not changed, just the quantity.  More weight on a old body is very taxing. 

Ohio State University - body conditioning chart

Calories are not the enemy, garbage food is the enemy.  "Empty calories," a body cannot use are just using up space in the backyard.  Go for the good ones that your dog's body will use in their day to day activity.