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WAGSTA Wellness

 / Task 4  / Step 4 Instructions

Step 4 Instructions

How to Select a Diet Food for your Dog

There are two feeding options for dieting dogs:
Home prepared meals or commercial diet dog food.

Dogs thrive on home-made, nutritionally balanced meals. However, time and continued dedication is a must if you plan to create your dog’s own diet food.

If you are interested in home-cooking for your dog, please read our WAGSTA home cooking guidelines. And view our nutritionally-balanced diet dog food recipes – in your resources.

For most owners, the easiest and most economical option is to feed a commercial diet dog food.

But with hundreds of dog foods available, where do you start?

This short video will help you select a suitable diet food by outlining key information on dog food labels.


Let’s summarise these 4 steps to help make the best food choice for your four-pawed friend!

 4 Steps to Select a Diet Food for your Dog.

1. Be label wary!

Grocery store and pet retail outlets sell a wide variety of diet pet foods. The quality and nutritional content of this food varies greatly, so research is a must.

Purchase decisions based on food labels containing terms such as “weight control”, “optimal weight”, “healthy weight”, “reduced calories” and “reduced fat” do not necessarily guarantee suitability of the product for your dog.

Ensure you read the nutrition analysis (or guaranteed analysis) label first and let the numbers do the talking. Alternatively visit your local veterinary clinic for quality veterinary diet food.

2. Ensure food contains a reduced calorie content.

(Aim for less than 3250 kcal/kg ME)

By selecting a calorie reduced food, your dog will be able to consume large enough portions to satisfy their hunger.

It is difficult to successfully diet dogs fed on calorie rich foods because the portion size in accordance with their dieting calorie allowance, will be very small. Not only are dogs left feeling unsatisfied, owners often feel mean.

Aim for dry foods with less than 3250 kcal/kg.

N.B Canned and wet dog foods automatically meet this lowered calorie concentration due to their high moisture content.

3. Ensure food contains a suitable protein content.

Protein content is important for several reasons. The main benefit being improved taste and providing your dog with a sense of satiety or fullness. By reducing your dog’s hunger level you are more likely to achieve successful weight loss.

Increased protein also helps to maintain muscle mass in the dieting dog and helps to increase the loss of body fat. Protein also provides a source of essential amino acids.

Diet Foods with a suitable protein content for your dog are displayed in the WAGSTA diet food database.

Your dog’s protein requirement is determined by their target weight. Check out your dog’s recommended protein level below:

Recommended Minimum Protein Levels According to Target Weight

Healthy Target Weight Minimum Pr.
[kilograms] [lbs] [protein/1000 kcal.]
2.5 kg 5lb 8oz 45 g
5 kg 11lb 53 g
10 kg 22lb 63 g
15 kg 33lb 1oz 70 g
20 kg 44lb 1oz 75 g
25 kg 55lb 2oz 80 g
30 kg 66lb 2oz 85 g
35 kg 77lb 2oz 86 g
40 kg 88lb 3oz 89 g
45 kg 99lb 3oz 92 g
50 kg 110lb 2oz 95 g


E.g. a dog with a target weight of 5 kg (11 lb.) should be fed a food containing at least 53 grams of protein per 1000 kcal.

N.B If your dog’s target weight sits in-between weight ranges aim for a protein content equal or greater than the preceding weight bracket e.g a dog with a target weight of 70 lbs. should be fed food with at least 85 g protein; a dog with a target weight of 19 kg should be fed food with at least 70 g protein.

4. Ignore feeding guidelines.

Ignore packet feeding guidelines. Instead use WAGSTA’s portion calculators (in Step 5) to portion your dog’s food according to your dog’s individual dieting calorie intake. Portion any treats or extras your dog may receive by using the treat calculator.

Once you have decided on a diet food, continue feeding this food for your dog’s entire weight loss period.

No two foods contain the same calorie content, so mixing and matching food sources will require you to constantly alter your dog’s portion size to ensure the correct calorie intake. Reduce the risk of portion errors by feeding a single food source.

WAGSTA Diet Food Database

The WAGSTA Diet Food Database lists the calorie and protein contents of commonly available diet foods, making it simple to find a food suited to your dog. Foods with protein levels appropriate for your dog are displayed.


Complete Step 4 by using the WAGSTA Diet Food Database or Recipe List to help select your dog’s food. 

Identify the calorie content of your selected food, then proceed to the portion calculators in Step 5.

If feeding wet food or a food not listed in our database please locate the calorie content (metabolizable energy or ME figure) on food packaging.

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