How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need to Burn 211 Calories?
The Washington Post recently reported on an interesting study in the American Journal of Public Health which suggests that showing people the amount of exercise they would need to perform to burn off a sweetened beverage is more effective in curtailing consumption than is displaying that drink’s calories alone.
For example, showing a message that you would have to walk 5 miles to burn of the calories in a bottle of soda led to a better, lower calorie beverage choice than a message containing the calorie count. This makes sense to me because although we are all familiar with the calorie unit of measure, we aren’t as familiar with how that translates to the required work (exercise) needed to burn a calorie. And because people are the ones that are responsible for feeding their pets, the same approach might help pet owners understand the importance of proper portion control.
In order to help pet owners make better feeding choices, SlimDoggy will publish a series of posts that translate calories in specific dog foods and treats to randomly chosen exercises and the activity duration needed to burn those calories. It should make for an informative and fun analysis and hopefully do some good at the same time.
For the first in this series, we will use the Acana Pacifica recipe and translate a standard serving into an exercise duration. Acana Pacifica is a dry recipe that has 421 kcals (calories) per 8 ounce cup. Note that even in the likely case that Acana Pacifica is not your current dog food of choice, the analysis still useful. You can make similar inferences from foods that have calorie densities similar to the Pacifica recipe.
My Dog has to Swim for How Long to Burn those 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 ½ cup of food per week, which translates to just over 1 tablespoon per day.
Pet Age: Adult
Pet Weight (lbs): 30
Activity: Swimming, moderate intensity
|Activity||Kcals per 1/2 cup||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|
As shown in the Table, a 30 lb. dog would need to swim for almost 107 minutes to burn 211 kcals, the number of kcals in ½ cup of Acana Pacifica dog food. That is a lot of time in the pool!
Overfeeding your Dog will Add Up
For the real shocker, let’s look at the impact of overfeeding by only ½ cup per week on this dog. First of all, ½ cup per week is the equivalent of 1.1 tablespoons per day. Certainly not a lot in absolute terms, and a measurement ‘error’ that could easily occur by free pouring. But it does add up.
If this hypothetical dog was overfed by ½ cup per week, over the course of an entire year, the dog would have to swim a total of over 5,500 minutes (or just over 92 hours) to burn those calories off. And if they didn’t, this dog would gain over 3 lbs, or 10% of their body weight just from overeating by 1.1 tablespoons per day. No wonder we have a pet obesity problem.
So you make the call. Would you rather over feed your dog and have to spend 92 hours in the pool with them lest they get fat? Or cut back to the proper amount to keep them at a healthy weight?