How Much Food Should You Feed Your Dog?
How Much Should I Feed My Dog: Feeding dogs seems so simple. You just offer an appropriate dry or wet dog food and never anticipate a problem. Except, it’s really not that simple. As pet parents, we care about our dogs’ well-being and health. We monitor how they’re feeling; we take them to the veterinarian; we give them all the attention in the world. But if we’re not paying attention to their diet—not just what we’re feeding them, but how much we’re feeding them—we could be doing our dogs harm.
The question, “How much should I be feeding my dog?” needs to be answered, but the answer doesn’t come easily. How can you accurately determine your dog’s caloric requirements? How clear are the instructions on your dog’s food? Why is your dog gaining weight when you feed what’s recommended on the bag?
How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog
One of the best ways to keep dogs healthy is to feed them the right amount of dog food. Too little and a dog can suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Too much eventually results in obesity and all of the health problems related to that condition including:
- Musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis, cruciate ligament ruptures, and intervertebral disk disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Cushing’s disease
- Skin disorders
- Some types of cancer
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure out exactly how much individual dogs should be eating. Determining the correct size for meals depends on the type of food dogs are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more.
To start the process, take a look at the feeding guide on your dog food’s label. They are usually presented as a table that looks something like this:
Unless stated otherwise, these amounts are the total that is recommended for your dog over a 24 hour period. Most adult dogs should eat two meals a day (puppies often require three or more feedings), so you’ll need to divide the amount in the table by the number of meals you are offering.
Combine this information with your knowledge of your dog’s lifestyle to come up with the initial amount of food you are going to offer your dog. If I had a relatively inactive 35 pound Corgi who had a tendency to gain weight, I might start with 2 cups of food per day. On the other hand, if my dog was a hyper 35 pound Border Collie, I would feed a little more.
Next, use a scale or body condition scoring system to fine-tune the amount you are offering. Check your dog every 2-4 weeks and keep a diary of your results. If your dog is inappropriately gaining or losing weight/body fat, adjust your portion sizes appropriately. In general, dogs who are at a healthy weight:
- Have an “hourglass” figure when looked down upon from above. The abdomen should be narrower than the chest and hips.
- Are “tucked up” when looked at from the side. This means that a dog’s chest is closer to the ground than his belly when he is standing.
- Have ribs that are not readily visible but are easily felt with only light pressure.
Every time you change dog foods you will have to go through this entire process again.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s health or diet. The doctor can help you determine exactly how much your dog should be eating based on the specifics of the case.
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If you’re ready to learn a few easy tricks to ensure that your pup is getting the right amount of dog food, then you’re in the right place.
How Much to Feed Your Dog
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2017 about 56 percent of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. To put this into perspective, that’s about 50.2 million dogs that are too heavy and at risk for health problems.
While we can’t say that overfeeding based on confusion regarding how much food to feed dogs is the entire reason that dogs suffer from weight issues, it’s certainly a factor. Learning the mathematics behind how much your dog should be eating is a powerful tool for helping your dog stay happy, healthy and trim.
But determining the right amount of food isn’t as easy as placing a dog bowl in front of him and letting him eat until he’s full. Many dogs will eat what you put out, no matter what. It’s up to you to figure out what’s a healthy amount. So, how can you determine how much to feed a dog?
Start by Talking With Your Veterinarian
For starters, take your dog to the vet. Get your dog weighed, have the vet give him a physical examination, and talk about whether or not the amount of food you’re currently serving is appropriate. Be honest about your dog’s activity level and the amount of food he currently consumes (including dog treats, table scraps and other extras!). This way, you can get a more accurate idea not just about what you should be feeding him, but also about how much you should be feeding him.
Next, take a look at the label on your dog’s food and look for a dog feeding chart.
Understanding Dog Feeding Charts
Dog feeding charts look straightforward, but they’re not as cut and dry as you might think. For starters, dog food bags typically give an estimate like, “for dogs 10-30 pounds, feed ½-1 ½ cups.” An overly generalized statement like this isn’t very helpful.
If you have a 20-pound dog who lays around all day and has no interest in exercising, feeding him the maximum amount would almost certainly lead to unhealthy weight gain. Alternatively, an active dog who zips around all the time probably needs more calories than would be provided by the lower end of the range.
Dog food labels can be confusing in other ways too. Think about the example above. What it’s saying is that you should feed your dog ½-1 ½ cups over the course of an entire day, but it’s easy to understand how some pet parents could read it as ½-1 ½ cups per meal.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog Chart
1) Let Your Dog Decide
For dogs who are a healthy weight and aren’t having accidents in the house, you may be able to use the free-choice feeding method.
This means you leave food out all day and let your dog graze. This can be a good method for highly active dogs that are burning more calories than their couch-potato friends.
If you are leaving food out all day for your dog to nibble on, use dry food, which won’t spoil.
If you have a nursing dog, she will probably be fed by the free-choice method. Dogs who are nursing need many calories to produce a constant flow of milk for their pups.
Downsides: Leaving dog food out all day could attract insects, rodents, or raccoons. That’s especially the case if you feed your dog outside, so be on the lookout.
And if you have more than one pet, they may bicker over the food. Also, this method is not for dogs that are diabetic.
2) Control Portions
For the dog who would never stop eating, use the portion control method. First, ask your vet what your dog’s ideal weight is. If you are using a commercial dog food, feed your dog the amount printed on the bag that fits with its ideal weight. Sometimes, however, the suggested amount is more than your dog needs. Your veterinarian can calculate the exact amount to feed.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog
Among the many questions new and experienced dog owners face is an especially important one. How often should dogs eat? Diet and nutrition are crucial components to keeping your dog a healthy member of the family for years to come.
Though there’s no hard-and-fast rule to how often a dog should eat, twice a day is generally a good place to start. However, more important than feeding frequency is meal portion size. Portion size may vary based on breed, age, and health condition, and settling on the right amount can be tricky.
Dog meal delivery services can make it easy to serve your canine companion delicious, nutritious, and appropriately-portioned meals that even humans can eat. One of these services, NomNomNow, offers healthy, fresh dog food is made specifically for your dog’s health goals and delivered straight to your door.
What Affects How Often a Dog Should Eat?
Veterinarians recommend feeding a dog at least twice per day. Dogs with medical issues or dietary needs may require specialized feeding schedules or restrictions on what they eat. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s eating habits to make sure you’re meeting their nutritional needs and healthcare requirements.
Breed plays a large role when deciding how often to feed your dog. Common large breed dogs, for instance, will often require more feedings and more calories per day than medium and small breed dogs. Age is also another important consideration. The caloric requirements for a two-month-old Yorkshire Terrier varies greatly compared to a two-year-old Yorkie.
How Much Should Puppies Eat?
Since puppies are growing rapidly, they need more food than adult dogs. Puppy nutrition is crucial for developing a foundation for future growth, as well as their bone and organ development. Puppies must have a specific amount of calcium in their diet, otherwise, they can develop metabolic bone disease or orthopedic conditions like early-onset arthritis. Toy-breed puppies, in particular, are prone to hypoglycemia.
Puppies need small, frequent feedings. For the first few months of a puppy’s life, they will need small meals of food throughout the day as they transition from their mother’s milk to solid food. Starting around four months, puppies can begin eating about three times a day, and after that, puppies will quickly graduate to twice-a-day feedings.
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How much food should I feed my dog chart?
|Weight of Dog||Amount of Food Per Day|
|20 pounds||1 1/4 cups to 1 3/4 cups|
|40 pounds||2 1/4 cups to 3 cups|
|60 pounds||3 cups to 4 cups|
|80 pounds||3 2/3 cups to 5 cups|