The Cost of Proper Nutrition - Down to the Penny (Food Recommendations)

Updated: Nov 8, 2020


Alright, so you want to get your pet on a good food, but you're scared by the cost of raw after buying a bag of food and realizing that this endeavor is going to cost you. The following information, which was very time consuming to calculate, will help you on your journey to feeding your pet the best possible way that you can.


This Blog is affiliated, and I used the images below so that you could follow the link to the food I am talking about and further investigate if need be, because I can legally do that without getting the rights to the photos. HOWEVER, if at all possible please go to your local pet store and find these foods on the shelf there. Here in St. Petersburg, FL we have some amazing local pet stores. Shopping at them, for virtually the same price, helps keep money in our local economy. It also helps keep these small business going so that they can be there when you need them because you forgot to order your pet's food online. Many times when I walk in to local pet stores, I find the owner's behind the counter and they know more about what goes into the foods they offer, than most veterinary professionals, because that's what they do. So just click the links, and buy other things that you can't get at a local pet store =) Or use the info online to do your own research and save your money for that high quality pet food, purchased locally.


Note: I use one example of the calorie content of one can/bag of food/protein. Every can/bag has a different calorie content just like every burger has a different calorie content. So this is all average estimates and not entirely accurate down to the calorie. There aren't enough hours in the day for me to be able to calculate the cost per calorie in EVERY single variety of canned food and every variety of bagged food. I notice that there are variations, however, overall most of the other varieties of both canned and dry are very close for cost comparison.


FIRST Before you get started, you are going to need to know how many calories your pet needs in a day to MAINTAIN their IDEAL weight. To do this, please fill out the following information.


These calculations are the same for cats and dogs (Thank goodness!)


If you don't know your pets ideal weight, ask your veterinarian what they think during your next veterinary visit! There is no standard ideal weight per species.


#1 What is your pet's ideal weight in pounds: _______lbs

NOW Take the number (Ideal wt in pounds) and Divide it by 2.2 to covert their weight into Kilograms.


#2 (Ideal Weight in pounds)/2.2 = Ideal weight in Kilograms: _______kg


Now for the average pet (average energy level) use this formula to calculated their daily calorie requirements. This may need to be adjusted up if you have a dog that gets a lot of exercise (a paralyzed person would require fewer calories than an athlete to maintain their weight). There is no calculation for this, but if you can see your pet's ribs, they need more food.


Formula = (30 x (Your pet's average weight in Kilograms i.e. #2) = _______ + 70 = Daily Maintenance Calories: _________ kcal (calories) per day required to maintain weight.


For Example: For my 20lb Jack Russel Terrier:

#1- Her Ideal weight = 20lbs (says me)

#2- 20lbs/2.2 = 9.09kg (Ideal weight in Kilograms)

Formula = 30 x 9.09kg = 272 + 70 = 342 Daily Maintenance Calories.

So in order to support my dogs weight of 20lbs I should feed her approx. 342 (I round up to 350) calories every single day.


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DON'T READ UNLESS YOUR PET HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING OVERWEIGHT (i.e. there's more of them to love, but not indefinitely)


Now if you're trying to get your pet to lose weight you will have a calorie deficit (just ask any woman about this - or man who yoyo diets like I have all my life). So to feed at a deficit of 20% you want to take the Daily Maintenance Calories and Multiply that by 0.8 i.e. (80%). So If my Daisy girl had some extra fluff and weighed 25lbs, but I wanted her to weight 20lbs. I would consider 20lbs her ideal weight. I wound understand that it took 342 calories to maintain that weight and I would feed 80% of those calories to get from 25 lbs to 20 lbs and THE MINUTE she gets to 20lbs I would increase her calories back up to 342 calories or 100% of necessary maintenance calories.


So 342 Daily Maintenance Calories x 0.80 (diet) = 273.6 Daily Diet Calories. We want slow weight loss. Then in a month or two when she weighs 20lbs I will increase her food intake to 342 Daily Maintenance Calories.

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SO The next most important thing to know, after knowing how many calories you will need to feed your dog, daily is how many calories you will need to feed your dog monthly so that you can calculate the cost of a diet that YOU can sustain.


Daily Calories required to maintain ideal weight:_________ x 30 days


For Daisy (20lb ideal weight) = Approx 350 (actual 342) calories x 30 days = _______ cal/month

350 x 30 = 10,500 calories every month for my little monster, Daisy.


When you read the following information use: ______ cal/month x $______ cost per calorie = Total monthly cost of dog food.


For the Example directly below:

10,500 calories per month x $0.0058 per calorie dog food = $60.90 total cost to feel exclusively Dave's Premium Beef & Chicken dog food every month that she is the perfect weight. That's totally doable for me!!


TIP TIME: You should switch up your pet foods regularly. To do this you may need to do the math I did for you below with other pet foods or try to stick with pet foods that are in the same realm of calories per bag as the following examples.


Please don't try to be perfect, this is meant to give you an idea of the different cost effective (maybe) diet options of healthier than kibble foods.


My Pet's Monthly Calorie Requirement is:_______________ cal/month


DOG FOODS I LIKE AND HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH

*** Buy Local When Possible - For Your Community***


Fresh is always best and you can't order the following foods online with any certainty that they will arrive in prime condition. Personally my box would likely sit on my front porch in the FL heat all day. But fear not, these high quality foods can be found in your local pet stores (Or at least I hope they can - call ahead and ask if you can special order)

Answers Pet Food Detailed Raw Chicken Nibbles 35oz box (2.2lbs)

68 calories/ounce = 2,380 Calories per Box

Box Cost = $17

$0.0071 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $2.48 per day to feed and $74.55 per 30 days to feed exclusively.


Check out the website for a local pet food store locator!



Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.0071 = ___________


Don't want to make the leap to a raw diet? How about a gently cooked diet from your local pet store (I had a client who paid top dollar for a nutritionist formulated home-cooked dog food recipe, then they found this with very similar ingredients. No need to home cook!)


AllProvide Gently Cooked Turkey Dog Food 2lb Bag

2 lbs = 32 ounces

45 calories/ounce = 1440 calories/bag

Bag Cost = $12

$0.0083 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $2.91 per day to feed and $87.50 per 30 days to feed exclusively.


Check out the website for a local pet food store locator!



Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.0083 = ___________



Dave's Premium Beef & Chicken 95% Meat for Dogs, 13 Oz Can (Case of 12)

1 case = 12 cans

1 13 = 445 calories x 12 cans = 5340 Calories per Case

Case Cost = $31.46

$0.0058 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $2.03 per day to feed and $60.90 per 30 days to feed exclusively.



Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.0058 = ___________


Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties Chicken- 25oz bag

25 ounce bag = 50 patties

1 patty = 60 calories x 50 patties = 3000 calories per bag

Bag Cost = $50

$0.016 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $5.83 per day to feed and $175 per 30 days to feed exclusively.



Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.016 = ___________



Steve's Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets Turkey - 1.25lb bag

1.25lbs = 20oz

139calories/ounce = 2,780 Calories per Bag

Bag Cost = $35

$0.0125 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $4.37 per day to feed and $131.25 per 30 days to feed exclusively.




Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.0125 = ___________



Ziwi Peak Air Dried Beef for Dogs 8.8lbs

8.8lbs = 140.8 ounces

312 kcal/2 ounces = 21964.8 Calories per Bag

Bag cost = $145

$0.0066 per calorie

So for a 20lb dog this food would cost $2.31 per day to feed and $69.32 per days to feed exclusively.




Monthly cost = ______ cal/month x $0.0066 = ___________


For dry dog foods, use this calculator to find the lowest carb bag (I know it's a feline website, but it gives a good rough estimate): http://fnae.org/carbcalorie.html


P.S. I never found a dry dog food that isn't loaded with at least 25% carbs and when I did find that food, it was being researched as a possible link to increased incidences of heart disease.