“How much should my dog eat?”
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be tough to decide just how much your dog should be eating. Feed him too much and you’ll have an overweight pooch that could be detrimental to his health. Too little and she’ll be starving – ugh!
Think about your dog’s breed, age, size, current weight, activity level, and the environment he lives in.
Types of dog food
One of the most important variables to consider when determining how much you should feed your dog is the type of food you’ll be serving. You can buy dry food and/or wet food that is formulated for the life stage of your dog. You can also find specialty diet foods like the raw food diet, or even cook food for your dog. No matter what you choose, be sure your dog is eating a high-quality food with the appropriate nutrient profile for their age, size, and activity level.
How much to feed a puppy
If you are the proud new puppy parent you are likely aware of the energy that comes with a little pup. Puppies need a high-energy food and because they are growing so fast they’ll require a food with more protein and calcium to help build a healthy adult dog, and more calorie-heavy fats to load them up with fuel. Although there are foods for ‘all life-stages’, puppies should be fed puppy food that contains all they need for health and happiness. Puppies start eating solid food between 3-4 weeks old and need to eat more often until they are around 6 months old.
Be sure to talk to your vet about when it’s time to switch over to an adult dog food – usually, it is about one year old. If you keep feeding your adult dog his puppy food, you could have a heavy pooch on your hands in no time since they do not require the calories or fats contained in puppy food.
How much to feed your adult dog
Your dog is in the prime of his life, and you want to keep him that way as long as possible. It’s rare to see an overweight puppy and most of us understand our dog needs to eat less after they enter their senior years. However, the adult stage of life can be the hardest time to know how much to feed your dog. Things to consider are breed, activity level, and current weight.
You can use this dog food calculator for adult dogs, which was developed based upon a study by a well-respected veterinary institute.
How much to feed your senior dog
Senior and geriatric dogs generally require lower caloric intake and may get heavy eating the same food they were eating in younger years. Your senior dog may still be as young in spirit, but dogs slow as they age (much like humans) and it is wise to take care and feed your senior dog responsibly. Many high-quality senior dog foods are fortified with additional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to help maintain joint health and alleviate arthritis pain. The right food can help your senior buddy feel his best in his later years, and keep him going longer and stronger.
If your dog carries extra pounds
If your pup has gained a few too many pounds, it’s time to return him to his slim and trim former self. A typical dog diet consists of some strict portion control and the elimination or limitation of any additional treats.
If your dog is really heavy or isn’t adapting to the idea of less food, there are specially formulated foods for overweight dogs. They are high in fiber and low in calories so your dog feels full while he sheds the excess weight. You can consult your vet for assistance on a weight loss strategy for your pup.
Feed your dog based on how they look, not how they act.
Many dogs will eat a full dinner and act like they are still starving if they think it will earn them a bit more food. If your dog is still acting hungry but looking thick in the middle – cut back on the portions.
Feed the dog you want, not the dog you have.
If your 70-pound dog needs to lose 10 pounds, use the dog food manufacturer’s feeding chart—located on the label—for a 60-pound dog.
Small dogs need special food
They have little tummies, which means they need small, nutrient-rich food. Small dog formulas are more than just smaller kibbles and smaller portions.
Eliminate free feeding
While always having a bowl of food out for your dog seems appealing, it is not good for their bodies and it’s too easy for them to overeat. Stick to a two-feedings-a-day meal plan.