How much should I feed my dog, and why does it vary so much? – Part 1
Hi, I’m Bill Wiadrowski from LifeWise Pet Nutrition and today I want to answer that very vexing question of, “How much food do I feed my dog and why does it vary so much?”.
Well that’s a pretty heavy question because there’s a lot to it so we’re actually going to provide the answers in two parts. In this Part One we are going to look at the actual structure of the diet and how that affects the dog, and in the second part of this video series we are going to look at what actually happens in practice.
So to start with, when we make a particular food we are targeting that food to a specific physiological stage of the dog. Now that might be puppy stage, or it might be active adult, it might be ageing adult, it might be geriatric, but in broad terms we’re targeting the diets specifically in that manner. But with any group, we look at the population of dogs that inhabit that group and we then look at their requirements and put that on a graph. We are going to fundamentally get a standard bell deviation curve, and what this curve tells us is that the majority of dogs fit here in the middle. But on the left side we’ve got some dogs where the nutrient density requirements for nutrients is lower and you’ve got some dogs over to the right where the requirements for nutrients is higher. So what we are doing in terms of our diet design is that we are basically catering for in any one food 80% of the dogs that fit into this middle category here. That means that over here [to the slight left of the middle] we have 5% of the dogs that aren’t quite catered for and then we’ve got another 5% down here [far left of the middle] that aren’t catered for well enough at all. Similarly, over here [slight right of the middle] we’ve got 5% that it’s not quite enough and we’ve got another 5% of which it’s decidedly not enough nutrients, because that’s what they require over there.
So whilst 80% of the population can be fed quite happily on that one food, we have to make some minor adjustments. These ones here where they don’t need that level of nutrients they are going to exist quite nicely with maybe a little bit of supplementation and these ones down here [far left] are going to have more supplementation and typically what we might do in a situation like that is that we might add, say, for these dogs here where the nutrients are too dense because we made it here and we want to pull it back to here, we might say add some rice to the food to dilute it a bit. Similarly, over here where the dog requires more nutrients than what we’ve got, we might add something to the food. So we might add some egg, we might add some sardines, give them a tin of sardines a week or every so often. But whichever way it goes, once we have assessed the animal we can actually modify the diet slightly so that it suits and it brings them back into this 80% bracket. So that’s the first contributing factor to the change in requirement.
Another factor that plays a big role in how much food the dog needs is going to be the environment. Is the dog exposed to summer temperatures?, is it exposed to winter cold temperatures?
Typically we see in summer time, dog’s appetite is suppressed by about 15% due to temperature and in winter time the opposite happens and the appetite increases by about 15% to normal so that means that we’ll get a 30% variation between the middle of winter and the middle of summer. So if your dog is outside enjoying the weather or enjoying the cold, obviously there is going to be a big difference in the amount of food he needs to either keep warm or not keep warm in summer time – so that’s going to change things a little.
But thirdly, and most importantly what really makes the difference as to how much food the dog eats is to do with the actual structure of the diet.
Now here at LifeWise what we do, we put diets together by virtue of ingredient ratios and nutrient ratios, and all of this is designed to maximise the efficiency of use of the food within the body. Firstly by promoting a healthy gut microbiome and secondly by satisfying the actual nutrient requirements that meet the genetic needs of the dog. Now feeding the microbiome, we refer to that as functional nutrition, whereas feeding the nutrients for the dogs genetic needs we refer to that as genetic nutrition. When we get functional nutrition and genetic nutrition aligned in the one food, what we find is that the amount of food consumed or required by the dog diminishes markedly. If these ratios that we use are not in keeping with the physiological age of the dog obviously the dog can’t process the food as efficiently as it’s capable and that means that we are going to use more food. So this efficiency of use based on diet design is probably the major contributing factor to determining how much food a dog is going to need.
So that’s the first part of this story, the second part of the story goes a little bit further and we’ll get into that in Part Two of this video series.
See you soon.