How Many Treats Per Day for a Dog? How to Calculate for Your Pup! | Pupford
November 7th, 2023
Filed under Podcasts
Treats are part of every dog’s life, but how many treats per day can your dog have?!
So, let’s break down how many treats your dog can safely consume AND more importantly, how you can find that number for your specific pup! Because just talking about the 10% rule for treats isn’t enough!
Here’s what we will cover:
- Dog body condition score
- Calculating your dog’s caloric needs
- The 10% rule
- The treats you choose REALLY matter
Let’s dive into the article! 👇
LISTEN TO EPISODE ABOUT TREATS PER DAY
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QUICK DISCLAIMER ABOUT TREATS, WEIGHT & YOUR DOG
A quick & important disclaimer, you should consult your veterinarian whenever looking at changing your dog’s diet.
Your vet can give you a more accurate picture of your dog’s health, weight range, and information specific to your pup’s needs.
So, talk to your vet!
BODY CONDITION SCORE
This chart, provided by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, gives a snapshot of how you can assess your dog’s current body condition. You should consult your veterinarian, but also can run this test from your own home to see where your dog lands in comparison to their ideal weight and fitness.
It ranges from 1-9 and you ideally want your dog to score a 4 or 5. A score of 1 means your dog is extremely underweight. A score 9 of means your dog is obese.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what each score on the Body Condition Score Chart looks like:
- Under Ideal - Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones, and all bony prominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious loss of muscle mass.
- Under Ideal - Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones are easily visible. No palpable fat. Some evidence of other bony prominences. Minimal loss of muscle mass.
- Under Ideal - Ribs are easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae are visible. Pelvic bones becoming prominent. Obvious waist and abdominal tuck.
- Ideal - Ribs are easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. Waist easily noted, viewed from above. Abdominal tuck evident.
- Ideal - Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from the side.
- Over Ideal - Ribs palpable with slight excess fat covering. Waist is discernible viewed from above but is not prominent. Abdominal tuck is apparent.
- Over Ideal - Ribs palpable with difficulty; heavy fat cover. Noticeable fat deposit over the lumbar area and base of the tail. Waist is absent or barely visible. Abdominal tuck may be present.
- Over Ideal - Ribs are not palpable under very heavy fat cover, or palpable only with significant pressure. Heavy fat deposits over the lumbar area and base of the tail. Waist absent. No abdominal tuck. Obvious abdominal distention may be present.
- Over Ideal - Massive fat deposits over the thorax, spine, and base of the tail. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on the neck and limbs. Obvious abdominal distention.
Once you have determined your dog’s body condition score, you can now calculate your dog's daily caloric needs! ⤵️
HOW TO CALCULATE DOG’S DAILY CALORIC NEEDS
Before you can decide how many treats your pup can have, you need to know how many total calories they should be consuming per day!
This calculator just needs a few main data points to help you make a general estimate for your pup.
- Your dog’s current weight
- Your dog’s Body Condition Score (from the section above)
- Whether your dog is spayed/neutered or intact (this will change caloric needs)
Input those 3 points and you’ll get estimated initial daily calories, even with a general estimate for the number of calories from treats (more on that next).
It’s important to have your dog’s Body Condition Score so that you can know if you should be maintaining, adding, or subtracting calories.
NOTE: This only should be used as an estimate, talk to your veterinarian for a more precise amount of calories. AND you should consult your vet before starting your dog on any weight gain or loss plan!
THE 10% RULE - HOW TO DETERMINE TREATS PER DAY FOR PUPPY OR ADULT DOG
Now that you have a total caloric need you can finally estimate how many treats per day your dog can have!
Generally speaking, treats should only make up about 10% of your dog’s total daily caloric intake. Notice I said ‘total’. That means if you’re planning on using that 10% of treats, it should be part of the total amount your dog eats.
Let me show you a basic overview of how I would do this for my dog Scout. Scout is an adult Labrador Retriever in excellent shape. Here is a picture of her for reference.
She currently weighs 65 pounds and her score is 4 on the Body Condition Score. According to those numbers, her estimated caloric intake per day is 1,241 calories.
So, to follow the 10% rule I could give Scout about 124 calories from treats and the rest, about 1,117 calories, from her normal meals.
But the next natural question that arises… How many individual treats is that?!
Let’s dive into that! 👇
THE TREATS YOU CHOOSE MATTER - EVEN TRAINING TREATS
Continuing with the example of my dog Scout, how many treats make up 124 calories?!
That gets to the heart of the issue, there is no one size fits all answer to the question of how many treats per day your dog can have! And that’s because all treats have different calorie amounts!
Some treats are 1 calorie, others are hundreds of calories…
If the treats I chose to give have 20 calories each, I could only give Scout about 6 treats per day. 😲
Contrast that with 1-calorie treats… I could give her 124 treats per day!
This is why the treats you feed your dog REALLY do matter.
As pup parents, we typically love spoiling our dogs. It just feels wonderful inside to give your pup a tasty treat and see him or her enjoy that treat!
The ingredient and calorie profile of the treats you feed your dog can make a massive difference in their health and weight!
Ultimately, when training a dog you do not need massive treats to reinforce behaviors. Rather, you need a high-value, tasty treat that increases the likelihood of your dog repeating the behavior in the future (aka positive reinforcement).
WHAT ABOUT THE NUMBER OF TREATS FOR PUPPIES?
Generally speaking, puppies need more calories each day than adult dogs. I would recommend speaking to your vet to get a more specific number for daily caloric intake.
Once you have discussed a calorie number for your puppy, just take 10% of that to “set aside” for treats!
RECAP OF HOW MANY TREATS YOUR DOG SHOULD HAVE EACH DAY
To sum up, how many treats per day a dog can have is generally about 10% of their daily caloric intake! Here’s how you determine the number of treats your dog can have each day:
- Determine your pup’s
- based on their current weight and Body Condition Score
- Take 10% of that total caloric intake and “set it aside” for treats
- Determine the number of calories in your dog’s treats to determine the number of treats you can give each day to your dog!
So while there isn’t one simple number, the formula is relatively easy. And remember to critically view your dog’s food and treat labels to see just how many calories you’re actually giving with each treat.
Ready for a low-calorie treat that your pup will LOVE and will help them stay at a healthy weight?! Check out Pupford’s full line of training treats. Here are some tasty freeze-dried flavor options your pup can enjoy (all low calorie) ⬇️
One final note. Remember that each dog is different! Weight, caloric needs, diet, health concerns, activity level, etc. can all play a role in how many treats per day for your specific dog. Again, consult your veterinarian!
How do you feel seeing your pup enjoy tasty treats?! Tell us in the comments!