How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need To Burn 260 Calories?

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Today we continue our series on the exercise needed to burn off small portions of commercially available dog foods. The series was inspired by the Washington Post report of the Journal of Public Health study which suggests that people are more likely to make smarter food choices if they are made aware of the exercise needed to burn off those extra calories.


This week, we will use the Canidae Grain Free Puresky recipe and translate a one-half cup serving into an exercise duration. Canidae Grain Free Puresky is a dry recipe that has 520 kcals (calories) per 8 ounce cup. (Note- even if you don’t use this food, you can make similar inferences from other food servings that contain a similar calorie density).


How Long do I have to Run my Dog to Burn those 260 Calories?

For our analysis, we will assume a normally healthy adult dog with no special conditions. We will look at the impact of serving this dog an extra one half of a cup of food per week, which translates to just over one tablespoon per day.
Pet Information:

Pet Age: Adult

Pet Weight (lbs): 50

Activity: Running at 7 miles per hour



Kcals per 1/2 cup Food Total Minutes of Activity to Burn Kcals Total Minutes of Activity if Overfed for a Full Year Annual Weight Gain if Overfed for a Full Year % Weight Gain per Year
Running 7 MPH







As shown in the Table, you would need to run a 50 lb. dog for almost one hour, at 7 miles per hour mind you, to burn 260 kcals, the number of kcals in 1/2 cup of Canidae Grain Free Puresky dog food. For many people, sustaining a 7 MPH pace for an hour is challenging, if not impossible. Keep this in mind when doling out your pet’s portions or else you better get to the track and start doing some “speed work”.

A Small Amount of Overfeeding Your Dog Adds Up

The cumulative impact of overfeeding by only ½ cup per week on this dog is also significant. Remember that ½ cup per week is the equivalent of about a tablespoon per day. Not much in theory, but it will really add up. Let’s take a look.


If this dog was overfed by 1/2 cup per week then over the course of an entire year, the dog would have to run at 7 MPH for nearly 3,100 minutes (or about 52 hours) to burn those extra calories off. And if they didn’t, this dog would gain about 4 lbs, or almost 8% of their bodyweight.


At the end of the day, it is the pet owner who controls the portions (and the quality) of their pet’s food. Keeping them fit and healthy requires proper amounts of exercise and appropriate servings. Take the extra step and make sure you are feeding the right amount of food each meal. A little extra here and there could mean an overweight and possibly unhealthy dog. And nobody really wants that.

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  1. Hi Y’all!

    For the most part the serving portions on the bag are too much for the amount of exercise the average pet gets (or doesn’t get).

    Merry Christmas!
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Training Can be Fun!My Profile

  2. Many folks don’t get that concept about over feeding and what is on packaging is only a guideline, every pup is different and you need to figure it all out for your specific dog. So many treat packages say like 8-10 a day which is ridiculous as they are a treat, not a meal no matter how big the dog is.
    Emma recently posted…Winter In The Dog ParkMy Profile

  3. Wow, it all comes clear when you break it down like that. Who knew an extra tablespoon a day could make such an impact!
    ღ Happy Howlidays! ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Chasing Dog Tales With Elaine BryantMy Profile

  4. I think people also forget how much smaller than them their dogs are. A small bowl of food or a treat looks tiny to an adult person. But for most of us, our dogs weigh far less than we do. So the calories can be huge compared to their relatively small size.
    Pamela recently posted…7 Things You CAN Say To Your Dog That Won’t Hurt Her FeelingsMy Profile

  5. that’s interesting and the same counts for humans too, I will show this post to my grandparents, maybe they will understand that even a half cup per week is too much for me and for them :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog (in-)FORMATION FRIDAYMy Profile

  6. More great information I personally don’t like canidae as it is so high in calories and yes very easy to over fed and become over weight. Thank you so much for your kind reply to glorys post yesterday. What a hard couple of days. I to truly believe things happen for a reason and it was for the best but it doesn’t make it any easier.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~More Exercise With Wet WubbaMy Profile

  7. Always enjoy your fitness posts, really cool to see the numbers in action. Quick question (and I’m sure you’ve answered this before, but I couldn’t find it in a link) – where do the underlying caloric utility assumptions come from? Do you use an established metabolic baseline for pups or is it an estimation based on caloric utility in humans? I’ve never really considered the similarities/differences in energy uses/consumption between humans and dogs and now I’m quite interested.

    Hm, ok, so maybe not a quick question there – but if you have any resources you could point to I’d love to check them out.

    • Hi Will. We have a proprietary model that we developed to estimate calories from different activities. The starting point, however, is the Waltham Center research that provides calorie estimates based on body weight for normal dogs. This calculation is
      kcals= wt(kg) ^ .75 * Factor
      where Factor is a scaled quantity that is higher for more active pets.

      No matter how you go about the calorie estimation, remember that it is an estimate. Much like with human fitness trackers and their associated calorie burn estimations for different people, these calculations are meant to be a (close) estimate. Actual burned calories can vary based on several factors.

      That said, we feel like our models are really good and more accurate than anything else publicly available.
      steve recently posted…How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need To Burn 260 Calories?My Profile

      • Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

  8. I see so many fat dogs at the veterinarian office, but not as many fat dogs being walked. Probably not just a coincidence.
    jan recently posted…Obie the Obese Dachshund loses 54 poundsMy Profile

  9. I never feed the amount the package calls for. According to the feeding instructions, he should get 4 1/2 cups a day. I have been feeding 2 cups per day, and he seems fine with that. I was giving him 2 1/2 cups per day, and that vet thought he was a little heavy, and she suggested I cut back 1/2 cup per day. It really does make a difference.
    Buddy recently posted…How many days till Christmas?My Profile

  10. I sure know what you mean by a “small amount of overfeeding.” Rocco gets like 10 kibbles (ok maybe a bit more, but it sure looks sparse in the bowl). But if he gets just a little too much he’ll start packing on pounds in a hurry!
    Diane recently posted…Run Rocco Run!My Profile

  11. Good post! This is something many people need to read.
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…FitDog Friday–Catch-Up & Our Eukanuba AdventureMy Profile

  12. Over feeding is so easy to do, this chart is a real eye opener.

  13. Such a good way to look at it. I can’t run 7 miles in an hour, so I would be running with my dog for quite awhile to burn off the extra calories. (Come to think of it, I have been snacking a bit more this week so I really do need to run a bit more!)

    Ace was at the vet today and the vet was complimenting him on his leanness. I’m afraid the vet is used to seeing chubby pets.
    Lindsay recently posted…Merry Christmas to Beamer, the cat who eats everything in sight!My Profile

  14. Wow! That is a big deal! A little bit goes a long way! I say that indicates that we pups have a much better evolved digestive system than you silly hoomans; much more efficient! 😉

  15. I couldn’t agree more and am very proud of our pups’ clearly visible waistlines 🙂 Measuring out every single meal really helps in avoiding accidental overfeeding. Add daily, breed-specific exercise, and never sharing table scraps ~ et voilà, there goes your healthy pup 🙂
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Report Animal Abuse with the free ICE BlackBox AppMy Profile

  16. It can be so hard to assess when your dog needs to get more or less food. Our vet asked us to have Shyla lose a couple of pounds. We reduced her daily portion by about 1/4 cup, and now she’s too skinny! We really need a dog scale! Our vet is too far away for regular weighings!

    I love these analyses. They apply to people too, and I try to remember it when I start adding one little treat for me to my daily food intake.
    KB recently posted…Good Luck, A Predator, and the Winner!My Profile

  17. I also think that people pick a food and stick with it even if it is not working the best for their dog. That can make it difficult to maintain weight. I also agree with Hawk the suggested feeding amounts on the bags are generally too much for the average dog, even our active dogs. I think the only time we have had to up feeding to amounts listed on the bag was when the dogs were with the trainer and worked 6 days a week. Except for Freighter. He still is feed according to the amount on the bag. 🙂

    I also think that if people add supplements, they do not always count them. For example our seniors get a supplement and yogurt. Those are added calories that must be accounted for because they get them twice a day with meals. Freighter get coconut oil (hopefully to get a really nice coat to beat the pros in the ring…lol). Anyway more added calories.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Back To WorkMy Profile

  18. We agree with Hawk – we too use our own measuring cup. With Leo gone, Harley is less active in the house (naturally), so your posts about nutrition and weight fascinate me, because I want to learn as much through you (as well on my own), conferring with his vet to keep him healthy, trim and at what I call his “Ali” weight!
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…HARK THE HEARLD ANGELS SING | WWMy Profile

  19. This is especially important to remember over the holidays when pets and their owners can put on a lot of extra weight. Keep an eye out for all those well-meaning relatives who like to slip your pup some goodies under the table. 🙂
    Elaine recently posted…Got Husky? – Getting to Know Some of the Best Pet BloggersMy Profile

  20. It’s insane when you add it up like this; it’s so great to know how huge of a difference a few extra calories here and there really make. And it really all boils down to us owners and what we’re feeding our companions.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…The Importance of Play for Dogs RevealedMy Profile

  21. I never knew how many calories are in dog food. Thanks for clarifying the numbers and how many pounds a dog can put on when they overeat and don’t exercise.
    Sharon S. recently posted…How To Find A Pet Sitter For Your Handicapped DogMy Profile

  22. It amazes me how what sounds like such a small amount can make such a big difference. It really emphasizes why we have to keep track of and measure so carefully.
    Jan K recently posted…Snow Beagle – Start Her Up!My Profile

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