Nutrition in animal shelters: beware of the “cup mistake” !

As you may know, I am an expat. I was born on a small island located in the middle of the Indian Ocean (it is called Reunion Island and I do recommend to visit, certainly one of the most beautiful islands there is !!!), lived in mainland France for 13 years and have been in Canada for almost 3 years now. One thing I learnt: each place functions in its own unique way, with its bunch of specific habits.

“Cup” vs “grams”

I knew this would apply to many different aspects of life. Must admit however that I never thought this would also apply to small animal nutrition! And I was really surprised – and confused- the first time I was asked:  “How many cups per day should I feed my dog?”  In the other countries I have been, the same type of question may be asked, but instead of “cup”, I’ll be asked about “grams”. In Canada – and North America in general – I quickly realised that the “cup” measure prevails when it comes to amount of food to feed an animal. 

I looked into this “cup mystery” (at least it was mysterious to me at the beginning!) and that’s how I realised how people could be easily mistaken when focusing too much on “the cup” as a measuring unit.

The “cup”: NOT a standard unit


It is indeed important to realise that, when it comes to pet nutrition, “the cup” is NOT a standard unit. Depending on the diet considered indeed:

-          It does NOT reflect a specific quantity of food: in our Maxi Adult diet, 1 cup equals 95 grams; while in our Labrador diet, 1 cup equals 78 grams. Let’s say you want to feed 6 cups/day to a dog: there will be a 100 gram difference/meal depending if you feed the animal the Maxi Adult or the Labrador diet, for the same number of cups.


-          It does NOT reflect a specific amount of energy: 1 cup in the Maxi Adultformula contains 357 kcal/cup; in the Labrador formula, 1 cup contains 292 kcal/cup. Same type of example than the previous one: for 6 cups/day, there will be a 390 kcal difference between these two diets.


-          As you now understand, it obviously does NOT reflect a specific amount of nutrients

I realised that in the field, many mistakes are made because the “cup” is used as a standard unit… while you now understand that depending on the diet characteristics, the number of cups per day an animal may require will vary. Having a look at the feeding guidelines is something that is always worth doing. Again, a simple detail that can make BIG difference in certain cases!

Additional resource: we recently did a webinar focusing on the importance of nutrition in animal shelters. The video is right below, don’t hesitate to watch it to learn more about the zootechnical approach recommended in shelter environments. Following this webinar, we also received some questions from the attendees, you can find this FAQ right here . Also, if you have one, do not hesitate, feel free to ask, they are always welcomed! 

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.“ Benjamin Franklin. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it! Good way to spread information inside our PRO community! And stay in touch with us to get our latest updates, just click on one of the icons below!

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