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Old 02-16-2014, 08:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
cwf
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Default Feeding Canned, Raw, Wet vs. Kibble: CALORIES

So, I don't want to feed raw, at least not yet. I'll say that upfront to hopefully prevent the expected responses encouraging me to do so, and so to keep the discussion on point. Putting the mention of raw feeding aside, my question is about providing sufficient calories when feeding non-kibble, i.e. when feeding some sort of wet food as the sole diet.

I am interested in feeding only canned and homecooked foods to my GSDs. I have oversized GSDs, which will make me even less popular on this webpage than my reluctance to embrace raw feeding! But I digress...

My dogs have high caloric requirements. Attempting to meet those caloric requirements with homecooked or canned food would invite bankruptcy, and fill the recycling collection truck in very short order.

For those who do feed raw diets, how do you meet caloric needs? It seems impossible to feed enough wet food (be it canned, cooked, rehydrated or raw) to provide adequate calories.

Raw feeders, how do you do it? Thanks for your helpful comments!
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not a raw feeder (yet), but do want to comment that dogs utilize more of their raw diet than they do processed so you might not have to feed as much as you think.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Raw food is fed by weight, not by calories. You want to choose meat that does not have lots of water added in processing, and start out feeding 2% of your dog's body weight. You know if they are getting enough calories if they maintain body condition. If they start to lose weight, feed more. If they start to gain weight, feed less. It's the same way you as a human know if you are getting enough calories, too much, or too few.

My dog weighs 75lbs and needs about 1300-1800 calories per day. The exact amount will vary because we do not do strenuous exercise every day. You can do the math using a website like the USDA nutrition database if you want to find out how many oz of meat your dogs would need to eat to have a high enough caloric intake. Using the example of my dog, 1400 calories is roughly the equivalent of 24 oz of raw chicken thighs (keeping in mind this is just an example and I feed her other things too). 1.5 lbs of food per day seems like a lot, but it's really not that bad if you can find meat for under $2/lb.

I can sympathize with your skepticism regarding raw diets. When I first started looking into it, I thought it would be too expensive, I would mess up my dog, I wouldn't feed the right amounts. It's definitely a different mindset from feeding kibble because you have to put more thought into it than you would for a human diet since it's for a different species. But now that I've gotten started, I'm seeing that you don't have to figure out everything at once- you want to start slow and take your time finding sources, do whatever calculations you need to feel secure in what you are feeding.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaimeju View Post
Raw food is fed by weight, not by calories. You want to choose meat that does not have lots of water added in processing, and start out feeding 2% of your dog's body weight. You know if they are getting enough calories if they maintain body condition. If they start to lose weight, feed more. If they start to gain weight, feed less. It's the same way you as a human know if you are getting enough calories, too much, or too few.

My dog weighs 75lbs and needs about 1300-1800 calories per day. The exact amount will vary because we do not do strenuous exercise every day. You can do the math using a website like the USDA nutrition database if you want to find out how many oz of meat your dogs would need to eat to have a high enough caloric intake. Using the example of my dog, 1400 calories is roughly the equivalent of 24 oz of raw chicken thighs (keeping in mind this is just an example and I feed her other things too). 1.5 lbs of food per day seems like a lot, but it's really not that bad if you can find meat for under $2/lb.

I can sympathize with your skepticism regarding raw diets. When I first started looking into it, I thought it would be too expensive, I would mess up my dog, I wouldn't feed the right amounts. It's definitely a different mindset from feeding kibble because you have to put more thought into it than you would for a human diet since it's for a different species. But now that I've gotten started, I'm seeing that you don't have to figure out everything at once- you want to start slow and take your time finding sources, do whatever calculations you need to feel secure in what you are feeding.

Hmmm...I'm just not comfortable guessing on calories. My GSDs are still growing and all are already over 100 lbs and VERY lean at that weight. They *need* their calories. I do appreciate that fresh, whole food is better utilized by dogs, but that relates more to nutritional value as opposed to caloric values.

I'm planning to switch to just canned food, moving away from our current kibble (Acana), but I'm extremely concerned about meeting their caloric needs with canned, or any wet food.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I just switched to raw a week ago. It is kind of odd not to know exactly how much my girl will need to eat! But I want to get off the kibble and feeding just canned seems way too expensive. I am currently using a premade raw and feeding 1.5-1.8 lbs a day. I don't have any strong feelings about any food people feed their dogs....as long as the dogs are healthy.
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Old 02-16-2014, 12:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've had GSDs for over 27 years, and I rarely have any idea how many calories any of them have gotten each day. As long as they get an appropriate amount of food to maintain good condition for that particular dog, then the amount of calories is a moot point, it's just a meaningless number.

The only time I pay attention to calories is when I'm switching between foods with different kcals per cup. For that, it's useful to know how many calories the old food is supplying so I can do a simple math calculation to figure out how much to use of the new food to deliver the same amount of calories. And then I promptly forget that number.

Since I'm monitoring my dogs' condition frequently by running a hand down their sides to do a rib check, I adjust the quantity from time to time anyway, regardless of how many calories they're getting - if they're feeling too ribby, they need more food, if they're feeling a little chunky, I need to cut back their food a bit. That's really all I need to know to figure out how much to feed.

You are correct that canned food would be extremely expensive to feed large dogs, though. What is your reason for wanting to do this?
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Old 02-16-2014, 12:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
I've had GSDs for over 27 years, and I rarely have any idea how many calories any of them have gotten each day. As long as they get an appropriate amount of food to maintain good condition for that particular dog, then the amount of calories is a moot point, it's just a meaningless number.

The only time I pay attention to calories is when I'm switching between foods with different kcals per cup. For that, it's useful to know how many calories the old food is supplying so I can do a simple math calculation to figure out how much to use of the new food to deliver the same amount of calories. And then I promptly forget that number.

Since I'm monitoring my dogs' condition frequently by running a hand down their sides to do a rib check, I adjust the quantity from time to time anyway, regardless of how many calories they're getting - if they're feeling too ribby, they need more food, if they're feeling a little chunky, I need to cut back their food a bit. That's really all I need to know to figure out how much to feed.

You are correct that canned food would be extremely expensive to feed large dogs, though. What is your reason for wanting to do this?
Debbie, I'm interested in switching from Acana to canned because I feel that the less processed a food, the better. Kibble, even the high end brands like Champion Petfoods (Acana and Orijen) are still processed foods. In my opinion, it's not even close to a dog's biologically appropriate diet. Canned isn't ideal, either, but it's better than kibble, I think.

My issue is that the calories in one large can are so much lower than in a single cup of Acana, and my kids are BIG, growing and need a high caloric intake.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Debbie, I'm interested in switching from Acana to canned because I feel that the less processed a food, the better. Kibble, even the high end brands like Champion Petfoods (Acana and Orijen) are still processed foods. In my opinion, it's not even close to a dog's biologically appropriate diet. Canned isn't ideal, either, but it's better than kibble, I think.

My issue is that the calories in one large can are so much lower than in a single cup of Acana, and my kids are BIG, growing and need a high caloric intake.
I would think you could do a homemade diet a lot cheaper than a purely canned diet for your large dogs. I know you said you didn't want to do raw, but is that just because it's raw? Would you give them cooked meat? There are a ton of apps and stuff (mostly designed for dieting people) that will calculate the calories of various foods for you if you're doing a homemade diet.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would think you could do a homemade diet a lot cheaper than a purely canned diet for your large dogs. I know you said you didn't want to do raw, but is that just because it's raw? Would you give them cooked meat? There are a ton of apps and stuff (mostly designed for dieting people) that will calculate the calories of various foods for you if you're doing a homemade diet.
Yes, I am absolutely willing to feed homecooked meals. My concern is meeting the nutritional requirements in regard to vitamins and minerals. When one adds in the cost of supplements, I suspect that homecooked can rival canned in terms of cost. But yes, absolutely, I am willing to do homecooked if that proves to be a better option than canned.
FYI, the canned food I was considering is Lotus. The second option was dehydrated food, The Honest Kitchen Thrive variety. I'm keen on feeding human-grade ingredients and so that's another cost factor.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've been feeding a raw diet to my dogs for over 15 years now. I've weaned puppies directly to raw and raised puppies from 8 weeks of age on raw.

I have NEVER worried about calories. When the dogs are young and still growing I do a hands-on exam every week to see how their weight is. If I can easily feel their ribs and backbone, they need more food. If I can't feel anything - they need less food. Simple as that.

Dogs, just like kids, go through periods of growth spurts and plateaus. By checking them every week I can adjust as necessary.

Once they stop growing they are fed the amount needed to keep them at a good weight. This varies based on the weather (if it's nice outside they are outside more, expend more energy and need more food) and their activities.

Edited to add ...


I also don't worry about vitamins or minerals. I feed a varied diet with at least 3-5 different protein sources each 10-14 days. For my Chinese Crested puppies, because they grow to full size very quickly, I add a basic multivitamin just to be sure they are getting everything they need.
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