Feeding guidelines help, please

Hello, I’m a new member and would welcome some advice.

I switched my 14 month cockapoo from cold-pressed to a top quality canned (which doesn’t appear here) about 2 months ago. I fed her the recommended amount, but, when weighed prior to being spayed, about a month later, she’d lost about 700-800g. Her previous, ideal weight was about 7.6kg. I gradually increased the amount from the recommended 240g per day to about 420g, but, when she was weighed 2 days ago, she’d gained less than 100g. Her weight was constant on her old food.

The recommended amount on the tin is 3% of body weight. However, I found an online calculator to roughly work out the calories per 100g, which amounted to 97. This also said that a 7.6kg dog needed about 477 calories per day, which, if I’ve worked it out correctly, is about 490 grams per day.

If the calculator is correct and the feeding guidelines wrong, that’s fine; otherwise, I’m a bit concerned as to why she needs so much food. Blood tests are OK and she’s wormed regularly. Below is the contents of one of the varieties she has and I’d be grateful for any views:-

Turkey meat and offal 52% (muscle meat 49%, heart 19%, stomach 14%, throat 9%, liver 9%)
Turkey meat broth 20%
Coley 15%
Parsnip 8%
Apples 2%
Hempseed oil 1%
Eggshell powder 1%
Watercress 0.5%
Spirulina algae 0.5%

raw protein 11.40%
fat content 4.90%
raw fibre 0.60%
raw ash 2.00%
calcium 0.20%
phosphorous 0.14%
moisture content 76.70%

Free of synthetic additives, preservatives, dyes, fillers Gluten free and GM Free

Hello and welcome to the forum. I apologize for not replying earlier but I have had to read and reread your post and think about it because you have clearly done a lot of work and calculations. It is very helpful to have all the information.

Regarding the manufacturer’s recommended daily allowance, which you say is 3% of ideal body weight (240g) for a dog of 7.6kg it seems a small amount for a young, active dog. I used to feed a quality wet food to my two small dogs (6.4kg and 8.2kg) and had to give the bigger one a full tray ie 395g even though she is older and less active than yours. The RDA of that product was 5kg - 10kg, 1 ¾ to 2 ¾ trays. I can therefore understand why you have had to increase the amount by so much.

Very often it’s trial and error to find a product (and amount) that suits the dog and based on what you have said in your post, although the food is very good quality, given the fact that you are heading for twice the recommended daily allowance and your dog is not maintaining a healthy body weight, I would say that something is missing. Looking at the recipe, I think it might be that your dog needs some carbohydrate. The clue is that she was OK on cold pressed and that has higher than average carb content. If your dog is satisfied with the food and doing well on it I think you might find it helpful to mix some form of carbohydrate into it. The best ones nutritionally are cooked, mashed sweet potato, well cooked brown rice and well cooked oatmeal. Would that be agreeable to you? If so, and you try this I would be interested to know if it helps to put some weight on.

Edit: You didn’t mention why you changed food but if your dog was OK with cold pressed food, another option would be to go back to it and use the tinned food as a small topper to add variety. I fed cold pressed food for a long time and used to do this but because it is already high than average in carbohydrate I used to add extra protein in the form of home cooked food. Also used to sometimes add a little fruit such as blueberries.

Hello and thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply in so much detail. It’s much appreciated.

I fed my pup Tribal as soon as I weaned her off the cheap muck the breeder was giving her. Then I read about the potential link of sweet potato with DCM and, as it contains 35%, I wasn’t prepared to take the risk. After also reading about the cumulative detrimental effect of feeding the artificial vitamins and minerals contained in virtually every dog food every day, I started searching for an alternative. I soon realized most food contained something on the FDA list and the only product I could find that didn’t, and that crucially had no added vitamins and minerals and no carrageenan, was the one she’s having now. I realize some reported dangers are just scaremongering (my vet tells me I read too much!) but I worry if I think she’s having anything that could even remotely harm her and I need to be 100% happy about her food, which is why I don’t want to change to anything else.

I am reassured to hear that you think 240g is a small amount for her and I take your point about the carbs, as this food has only 4.4% (if I’ve done the sums correctly).

I’ll certainly take your excellent advice and start giving her some rice or oats in the hope that she gains weight, which, if she does, will stop me fretting about any underlying medical cause and I’ll let you know next time she’s weighed.

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Thank you for replying. You have done very well to do the research and for wanting the best for your dog. Hopefully enhancing the current food will help. If not, perhaps have a look at fresh cooked food (if you haven’t already done so). Two companies that sell this are Butternut Box and Different Dog. The latter has the greater selection. Both companies have a computer algorithm that calculates the calorie requirement and amount needed based on the dog’s age, activity level and current body condition. I don’t know whether they will answer to increasing weight but they meet your criteria of a natural product with no nasty additives.

Hello again. I did consider Butternut and Different Dog, as I really like the idea of fresh food and the fact that Butternut say they have natural added vits & minerals is a big plus. The only trouble, for me, is all their recipes are packed with legumes, etc. & the DCM question would concern me. I know both these foods, and Tribal, are vastly superior to the majority, and my dog owning friends get a glazed look in their eyes when I waffle on about the rubbish in most dog food - with probably some justification, they all think I’m bonkers! For now, I’ll do as you suggest & add some oats in the hope she gains weight.

Once again, thanks for your help.

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I agree about the legumes. Different Dog has none.

Many thanks for posting Gemma. Just to add to Dottie’s excellent advice…

Your maths is spot-on and you’re absolutely right that the feeding recommendations seem very low. According to the Ohio University Veterinary Medical Center Calorie Calculator, which is one of the best ball-park calculators I’m aware of, an average dog weighing 7.6kg should get around 510 calories per day.

Most wet foods have an energy content of 80-150 kcal/100g so I would expect a lower feeding guideline of at least 350-400 grams.

This could be a simple error on the part of the manufacturer or they could be intentionally underquoting the daily amounts in order to make their cost per day figures more appealing. Either way, I would recommend clarifying with them directly. I’d be interested to see their response.

Also, on the subject of DCM, I’m personally more and more convinced that it’s all a bit of a red herring. You can read my article on the subject here.

I hope that helps.

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Thank you, David - and for the Ohio University link, which, from a quick look, I can see is very useful. I’ll read it thoroughly. I too wondered if the RDA was perhaps on the low side because the food is not cheap. I did contact them and they replied: “I wouldn’t worry about the feed quantity; Gemma’s requirement is at the higher end but, like people, some of us need more, some less. As we only use natural ingredients, there will be no nutrient overload, any unrequired excess will be passed out the other end”. They’ve always been extremely helpful with the numerous other queries I’ve interrogated them about, but double the amount does seem to me to exceed ‘the higher end’.

I’d already read your article about DCM and I can see the logic behind the scare being a red herring. I also totally disagree with the FDA’s advice to stick to the market leaders’ products, none of which I would even let Gemma sniff, let alone eat. The only trouble is, as I am paranoid as far as her health is concerned, if there’s even the remotest chance diet is contributing to the DCM increase, I don’t feel I can risk it.

I’m not sure if I can reply to Dottie’s post separately, so, regarding Different Dog, my problem with that is the added synthetic vitamins and minerals. This is a link to a vet’s article and I’d be interested in what you think - if you have time - https://www.vincethevet.co.uk/raw-food-news/petrol-derivatives-poisons-and-preservatives-whats-in-your-pets-food .

Here’s a couple of questions I emailed regarding her current food and their response:-

However, without added vitamins, are the foods tested to ensure they provide all the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids?
Absolutely, because we prepare at low temperatures the nutrients survive.

You say “without unnecessary additives”, which implies there are some additives, so please tell me what they are.

We’re just highlighting that additives are unnecessary, we don’t use them in dog food. Some additives are theoretically natural we still don’t use them. If the ingredients are appropriate and carefully prepared then no additives are required. The use of additives of any kind are usually a signal that short cuts have been taken somewhere.

I must say what an excellent service you are providing for dogs by having this website, but I think you’ll probably agree that I ought to change my username from my dog’s to “nightmare”!


Hello Gemma. I understand that you are anxious about additives. Most dog foods have to contain these to meet FEDIAF guidelines. I look for as few as possible and for ones that are naturally occurring and that the dog needs for good health. If you made your own home cooked food for your dog using fresh ingredients it would not be complete without additives, notably calcium. Even human food eg breakfast cereals are enhanced by the vitamin and mineral additives.

I can’t think of any dog food that is additive free but I recall a piece of research that was undertaken by Honey’s, the raw feeding company. The results indicated that the dogs used in the experiment were well and healthy on a raw diet that was additive free. The document is here. Have you thought about a raw diet?

Regarding Different Dog, they use a few nutritional additives: Vitamin A 2500IU, Vitamin D3 500IU, Zinc 18mg, Iron 15mg, Manganese 7.5mg, Copper 4.5mg, Calcium Iodate Anhydrous 0.025mg. Doubtless they would discuss this with you if you wish to contact them.

Hello Dottie - the link to Honey’s is very interesting - not that I can pretend to understand all of it by any means. I’m not brave enough to feed raw and I won’t attempt home cooked for exactly the reasons you state - I’m not confident I could produce a balanced diet & would probably mess it up. Naturavetal guarantee all their food is additive free - “Genuine vitamins and natural minerals provide the best nourishment for the body, so a natural, biologically appropriate dog food like Canis Plus Complete Dog Food contains only the all-natural vitamins and minerals with no synthetic additives at all”. She loves their wet food and I know it tastes nice because I tried a bit. My only issue with it is her weight loss, but if, as it now seems, that is due to incorrect RDA guidelines, I hope the increased amount, together with the oats you suggested, rectifies that.

Getting back to the vitamins, though, am I correct in assuming the FEDIAF only issue guidelines, as opposed to regulations which it is mandatory for producers to adhere to? I get the impression from the alternatives you’ve kindly suggested that you perhaps consider it is not possible for a non-raw food to naturally contain everything essential. If this is the case, I’ll pester them yet again and ask precisely what tests they’ve undertaken to ensure consistent nutrient levels.

Thanks again for your help - I must be taking up a lot of your time.

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Regarding guidelines/legislation for the manufacture of pet food, you might find this helpful: Legislation|PFMA. Hopefully your dog will maintain weight with the increased amount plus extra carbohydrate.

Home cooking would ensure that you would know exactly what your dog is eating, with no additives although calcium is a must. Some pet owners who home cook give a good all round multivitamin supplement such SF50. Home cooking can be done safely with care and research. If you want to explore this, have a look at this thread and this one.

I’ll obviously have to do a lot of research, but, from the links, it seems like I might be able to get home cooking right. I’ll definitely look into it for her. I had to smile when I read that the PFMA say pet food is highly regulated to ensure that it is of utmost quality, as it made me wonder how on earth Bakers, with their ‘might as well boil up an old leather boot’ protein sources, are allowed to trade. I could never have found out all this very useful information by myself, so thank you.

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I had to smile when I read that the PFMA say pet food is highly regulated to ensure that it is of utmost quality, as it made me wonder how on earth Bakers, with their 'might as well boil up an old leather boot' protein sources, are allowed to trade.
It makes me wonder too. :-\

Thinking about the food you are giving now reminds me of a raw complete and the RDA for those is usually 2% to 3% of correct body weight so I am wondering why it has been set so low. Carbohydrate gives quick release of energy so is particularly useful for young, active dogs. Hopefully your dog’s weight control will steady out. Please let me know how you get on with the changes.

I certainly will. I’ve got a lot to think about - I just hope if I go down the home cooked route that madam approves of my cooking

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Me, again! I think I’ll contact We Cook for Dogs, because I like what he says and, on the one recipe listed on Vet Chef, no organ meat is included.

Referring to what I said earlier about Bakers, I remember, a few years ago, there was a TV programme about dog food, featuring a so-called expert canine nutritionalist. Rather than exposing the rubbish brands, he advised against buying expensive food, as all dog food had to meet certain criteria. He held up a tin of Pedigree Chum, clearly showing the ingredients as cereals & M&A derivatives and a bag of Asda smart price kibble as examples of what it was OK to buy. What a missed opportunity to enlighten owners and I dread to think how many dogs suffered, and continue to do so, because of it.

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I share your interest for We Cook for Dogs and if you do try home cooking I would like to hear of your experiences. I have been in contact with the owner and find that he is really enthusiastic about home cooking for dogs.

You might be interested in a series of webinars by Different Dog. They have been running for the past month and can be found on YouTube. They have covered cooking for dogs including healthy treats. Tonight they have Diane, a dog trainer and behaviourist. It can be found on their Facebook page. You need to be logged into YouTube to comment/ask questions. It is at 7pm.

Yes, a lot of the things he says strike a chord with me and I like the look of his herb blends The trouble is, a lot of the links on his website which I’d like to read don’t work for some reason. I’ll have to contact him, but, with the current hit and miss availability of ingredients, I’ll wait a while - at least until I can hopefully get her weight up.

I think you said earlier that you weren’t aware of anything that didn’t contain any synthetic vitamins and minerals. I remembered that I’d found a BARF product that made a big thing about not doing so, but couldn’t recall the name. I eventually found it - don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but its Fresco. Anyway, since I last looked, they’ve introduced a new range of lightly steam cooked wet food, again with nothing synthetic added. I haven’t worked out the carbs/calories, but, as the ingredients are similar to Gemma’s Naturavetal, I would imagine there’s not much difference.

The thing is, they’re only saying 2% of body weight RDA, on average, with perhaps a 50% variation - which is even less than Naturavetal, so I really don’t know what’s going on.

I know I’ve been waffling on about how good I think Gemma’s food is, but you’re the experts, not me, so, if you’ve any reservations at all about it, I’d be grateful if you’d let me know - in case I don’t go down the home cooked route. If you think essential vits/mins, etc. might be lacking without synthetic additives, if I gave her, for example, some of We Cook for Dogs’ herb mixtures, could that result in a dangerous excess? Naturavetal list calcium 0.20%, phosphorous 0.14%, so I assume that’s an acceptable amount and ratio?

Thanks again for taking the time to help me.

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The food that you are giving looks good. One problem that we have had with wet foods is carrageenan - there is a thread on the forum about this. The substance is usually found in the pate type foods. It is not listed as an ingredient. Fortunately David has done a lot of work on this and has included it in the Directory but it is something to look out for.

Regarding the calcium and phosphorous, we have some threads in which we discussed this. They were pertaining to large breed dogs but nevertheless, might be of interest: Here and here. If a dog is having too much calcium it is usually quite obvious because the stool will be chalky. There is a comprehensive article on calcium from the Whole Dog Journal here.

I have the feeling that the RDA of your food might be something like raw ie 2% to 3% of desired body weight. David is waiting for clarification from the company before he lists it in the Dog Food Directory.

I can’t recall reading about Fresco so will take a look later - thank you for the information. It seems impossible to keep up with everything as there are so many products these days.

If you talk to the owner of We Cook for Dogs I think you will find him very helpful. Regarding herbs, I assume that you don’t have to use them. They weren’t included in the recipes that I received from VetChef. IIRC their calcium is from dried, ground organic egg shells.

I think you are right to stick with your current feeding regime until your dog achieves the desired weight. It will give you time to decide on a future feeding plan.

If you want to check out the previous DD webinars, they can be found here.

Sorry, Dottie - I’m not ignoring you - I replied to your last thread yesterday, but I must have pressed the wrong button, as it doesn’t seem to have got posted.

I’ve already checked with Naturavetal about carrageenan and they confirmed there is none present, and nothing comes from China.

I googled Fresco dog food reviews and the first site to be listed was yours - seems you rate their raw at 98% - but I can well understand why you can’t remember every product when there are so many.

I’ve had a better look at their new range of tinned and that, too, seems excellent. I’ve emailed them to ask about carrageenan and queried their RDAs too, as they’re even lower than Naturavetals. I think the quality is about the same, but they’ve got a large selection, so I might mix products from the 2 companies, as I like her to have variety. (To those people who say dogs don’t mind having the same thing every day, I would ask how they know).

I see We Cook for Dogs offer a 50/50 diet plan (50% home cooked with 50% commercial) which might be something I’ll consider, but, at £190, I hope it’s bespoke recipes.

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Just to mention that, inspired by this thread, I decided to make a Calorie Calculator tool. I hope it comes in useful. Any feedback gratefully received.