Deborah Linder, DVM and Lisa Freeman, DVM, Ph.
, DACVN found that the recommended serving size, calories in that serving, and cost varied widely for the dog foods they examined.
There article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association look at 44 diets for dogs and 49 diets for cats.
This article will confine itself to discussing the diets for dogs.
Just as with people, obesity is one of the most prevalent health problem seen in dogs.
One of the most common reasons for obesity is letting the dog free feed from a bowl that is kept full all day.
Veterinarians often tell owners to use a reduced calorie dog food in such cases.
Sounds simple, but the labeling for such food is inconsistent, the portions vary, and the amount of calories per portion differ across foods.
Even an educated owner can quickly become confused.
Linder and Freeman bought dog food in the places owners would usually go to do so: pet specialty stores, grocery store, mass merchandiser, and a vet office.
They purchased anything that looked like it promoted weight loss and got both dried and wet food.
Calorie density was determined by looking at the label or calling the manufacturer.
It was then compared to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for lite, light, or low calorie foods.
The AAFCO regulates dog food.
It turns out that the calories in the recommended serving for 22 of the canine diets that was greater than allowed by the AAFCO.
Food differed by the recommended serving size in both volume and weight.
The number of calories in the servings differed.
So did the cost.
No wonder people get confused when trying to buy and use a weight reduction food for their dog.
If you have a dog that is over his target weight, the best bet is to ask your veterinarian to recommend a specific weight loss product and the amount of that product to feed.
Just as important, ask exactly how much the dog should get and how many times a day he should be fed.
If you do not understand the dog food label, call the manufacturer for help.
Obesity in dogs causes the same problems it does in humans.
As your dog's owner, it is your responsibility to help your dog maintain his ideal weight.