Are pre-portioned meal plans right for your pet? How much food does your dog or cat need?
At Tom&Sawyer, we know that good nutrition and convenience go hand in hand (or paw!), and that’s why we’ve created the healthiest freshly cooked meals on the market, and deliver them straight to your door.
We also work with you to select the best recipes for your pet’s specific needs, whether they have allergies, need a low-fat meal, or are just plain picky.
One of the most common questions pet parents ask us, though, is just how much food their dog or cat should eat. This is where our science and knowledge of animal dietary needs come in.
By working with top animal nutritionists — such as Dr. Kelly Swanson from the University of Illinois — we’ve learned that one diet definitely does not suit all pets, and that there is so much more to meal portioning than simply looking at your dog or cat’s weight.
Think about this: when you look at the back of a dog food bag, does feeding your pet the recommended serving size for their weight make sense if they are on a weight-loss journey, are extremely active, growing, or even underweight?
From a convenience standpoint - sure.
From a nutritional and health standpoint - no.
We know that there are other freshly cooked pet food companies out there who pre-portion their meals so that all you have to do is pour and serve. While on the surface that may appear to be convenient, it’s NOT beneficial to your pet’s health.
Here are a few reasons why:
Your pet is special! Each and every dog and cat is unique, and their meals should be too. When feeding your pet, we help you take into consideration their age, breed, weight, activity level, and weight goals.
You can monitor your pet for signs of early illness. Sometimes pets may have underlying conditions if their food or energy intakes increase or decrease. By continuously monitoring your pet for physical activity and food intake, you may be able to spot signs of disease or illness early and address the issues early with your veterinarian before it gets worse.
Weight management. Pet obesity is considered an epidemic, affecting over 50% of our pets. Chonky cats and pudgey pups can be cute, but it can have serious consequences to our animals by reducing both the length and quality of their lives. When we don’t take control of our pet’s portion sizes, we run the risk of overfeeding them. Click here to read more about weight loss for dogs.
How much – and what – should you feed your dog or cat? Here’s what we recommend:
1. Feeding guidelines. When you complete our meal plan questionnaire, we recommend a portion size suitable for your pet’s current needs, knowing that their dietary requirements could change at any time. Our customer service team and in-house animal nutritionist are always happy to answer any questions you might have.
2. Rotational feeding. What would you do if you had to eat the exact same thing every day? Our pets’ meals don’t need to be boring, and it’s okay to switch up your pet’s proteins, veggies and flavours! Read more about the benefits of rotational feeding.
3. Mixing and matching. Our chefs prepare our delicious individual recipes, but your pets might like to have their meals combined. Adding some Classic Pork Stew, for example, to our Fisherman’s Best Friend recipe gives a delicious and unique balance of proteins and flavour.
If you do mix and match, note that you may also have to adjust portion size based on calorie intake. If you’d like to combine recipes but don’t know where to start, email Hannah, our in-house animal nutritionist for her recommendations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Seasonal variation. For some pets, wintertime can mean fewer walks and more snuggles on the couch. But for other dogs (think Huskies) this is when their energy levels peak! Summertime is when some people may allow their cats access to the outdoors, and a cat's physical activity can change as indoor temp and humidity vary. Because of these reasons, their food allotments should be adjusted accordingly.
5. Get as accurate as possible. Use a gram scale or kitchen scale to weigh out food portions over using a scoop, cup, or the “eyeball method”. Using a cup has been shown to both over- and under-estimate food portions repeatedly (Coe et al., 2019) versus using a gram scale. This can particularly impact smaller dogs who can gain or lose weight with the slightest adjustment in portion size.
6. Give your pet regular weigh-ins. This can be as simple as monitoring your pet’s weight every 2 to 3 weeks! If you notice weight fluctuations you can adjust either activity levels or food intake. Your local veterinarian will likely let you use their scale as often as you like.
If you’d like more information on how much to feed your dog or cat, or what exactly they should be eating, you can book a FREE consultation with our in-house animal nutritionist to get all the answers to your questions.
Email us at email@example.com to book your consult, or find our Live Chat button on our website to speak directly with our team.
Written by: Hannah Godfrey
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition
1) Brooks et al., 2014 AAHA Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats: https://meridian.allenpress.com/jaaha/article-abstract/50/1/1/177041/2014-AAHA-Weight-Management-Guidelines-for-Dogs
2) Case L.P. et al. Canine and Feline Nutrition: A resource for companion animal professionals 3rd ed. May 19, 2010
3) Coe et al., Dog owner's accuracy measuring different volumes of dry dog food using three different measuring devices. 2019: https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1136/vr.105319
4) Lund EM, Armstrong PJ, Kirk CA, Klausner JS. Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult cats from private US veterinary practices. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. 2005;3: 88-96.
5) German AJ. The growing problem of obesity in dogs and cats. J Nutr. 2006;136: 1940- 1946.
6) German AJ, Holden SL, Mason SL, Bryner C, Bouldoires C, Morris PJ, et al. Imprecision when using measuring cups to weigh out extruded dry kibbled food. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2011; 95: 368-373.