How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?

How Much Should You Feed Your Dog?

by Scritch

Initially determining how much food your dog needs can feel like a challenging math problem. Start with X, add or subtract based on their activity level, and don’t forget to take treats and table scraps into consideration. Because all dogs are different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much your dog should be eating, but we’ll review guidelines and feeding tips to keep your pup healthy. 

How much to feed

The main factors that will determine how much you should feed your dog are her age, size, and activity level. Puppies need extra food to fuel their growing bodies and dogs that prefer snoozing on the couch don’t need to eat as much as those that go for daily jogs. 

Basic feeding guidelines

As a starting point for how much your dog should eat in a day, you can either:

  • Refer to the label on the dog food packaging, or
  • Use the calculation of 30 calories per pound of body weight 

Calculate the amount to feed overweight dogs based on their ideal weight rather than their current weight. Active dogs may need to be fed on the higher end of the recommendation. Take treats into consideration as well: whether you’re training with food rewards or simply like to give your dog a daily treat, you may need to slightly reduce the size of their meals.

If you are concerned whether your dog is eating the right amount, you can weigh her weekly. Note whether her weight is maintaining, increasing, or decreasing, then adjust her feeding accordingly. Going forward, an annual vet visit will help verify that your dog is maintaining a healthy weight. 

How often to feed

Rather than feeding all of a dog’s daily calories in one sitting, your dog will benefit from eating multiple smaller meals. For most dogs, twice a day is ideal, but puppies should eat 3-4 times per day.

Benefits of feeding your dog multiple times per day:

  • Prevents bloat, a life-threatening condition that affects large-breed dogs
  • Prevents her from quickly scarfing down all her food and then vomiting it up
  • Keeps her full for more of the day
  • Prevents bilious vomiting syndrome - throwing up due to excess bile in an empty stomach

Preventing obesity

To check if your dog is overweight, have a look at her body. At a healthy weight, this is what you’ll find:

  1. Looking from above, her waist should taper behind the ribs
  2. From the side view, the ribs will droop down but the belly should be tucked up
  3. You can’t see, but can feel the ribs easily with only light pressure

A dog is overweight if you can’t feel her ribs and she has more of a “sausage” shape. Carrying extra weight puts your dog at a higher risk for certain health conditions such as: 

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Shorter lifespan

Feeding tips

For optimal health, consider these simple tips when feeding your dog:

  • Feed her at the same time every day
  • Always feed the same food; suddenly switching food can cause tummy troubles or diarrhea
  • When changing food, mix a small amount of the new food into the current food and gradually increase the ratio of new food to current food
  • Frequently clean the food and water bowls
  • Slow down fast eaters with a puzzle toy or maze feeder
  • Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake

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