How much should I feed my dog?

All dogs love to eat! Just look at your pup’s waving tail when you’re about to put some food in its bowl or when you accidentally drop a piece of juicy chicken breast on a kitchen floor. However, no matter how much your pooch begs you for food, you should establish some solid feeding rules.

Obesity is one of the most common health problems in dogs, and unfortunately, it’s us owners who are responsible for this serious condition. Many things should be taken under consideration when it comes to establishing your dog’s feeding schedule and deciding on the amount of food you’re giving it. So the main question here is: do you know how much food should you feed your dog? In this article, you will find answers to this frequently asked question. 

We asked veterinarians and dog nutritionists for their opinion on adult dog feeding times, puppy feeding times, senior dog feeding times, and how much food in general dogs need to not get obese. Their answers let us better understand how a dog’s digestive system works and what are the factors which decide how much should you feed your dog. 

Now we can share the valuable knowledge with you. Learn how to control food portions for your pup and find out how a feeding routine should look like. For now just remember that most adult dogs should get their food twice a day, while puppies require more frequent mealtime. Learn more and help your pup live a happy, long life. [1]

Calculating how much should you feed a dog

When it comes to calculating how much food should you give to your dog, three main factors have to be taken into consideration. First of all, check your pet’s current body weight, evaluate its stage of life and in case your dog is still a puppy try to predict its final size. 

Most wet and dry dog food have suggested feeding guides printed on the packaging. They can be a fair source of information on how much you should feed your dog. However, these estimates have a margin of error and they are not 100% accurate for each pet. 

What many people often confuse is that smaller dogs have a higher energy requirement per kilogram of body weight than large dogs. This means among others, that small dogs can have up to 3 meals a day, while big dogs should be fed only two times a day.

Other things that you should consider while calculating the right amount of food to give your dog are its activity levels and the specific type of food that you’re feeding your dog. Remember that each dog is different, each breed has its special needs and the metabolism of each animal varies. This is why you should always pay attention to your pet’s overall body condition and perform a muscle condition scoring with your vet or use a feeding calculator, which can be easily found online.  

How much to feed a puppy

It is important to weigh puppies regularly to check that they are gaining weight properly. At first, puppies only consume their mother’s milk, but after 8 weeks they can be switched to puppy food that is appropriate for their age. Since your puppy has not developed their teeth yet at this age, we recommend feeding it with wet dog food. 

You should establish a solid feeding schedule for your pup as soon as possible. This will help you avoid overfeeding and obesity in the future. Your little pup’s diet should consist of high in energy wet food specially designed for puppies. This food should contain a lot of meat, protein, and fat, which will support the growing process. 

At first, try feeding your pup five meals a day in regular intervals. Later switch to four or three meals a day. It’s better to feed a puppy with smaller amounts of food at once because it is easier for them to digest it. A regular feeding schedule will also help your pup better control its bladder and bowel movements. This is an optimal growth strategy that will allow your little furry friend to develop at a steady rate.

How much to feed young adults and adult dogs

The young adult stage of life in dogs begins after the first year of life and lasts until the dog is about 5 to 7 years old. After that age, a dog is considered a full adult. As your pup grows its energy needs decrease and its lifestyle is becoming more visible.

While evaluating how much food should you give to your adult dog, just observe it. If it’s active, you can give it a little bit more food, if it’s a typical couch potato consider feeding it a little bit less. 

Follow the guidelines on your dog’s wet or dry food packaging and adjust them to your dog’s lifestyle. Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian for a piece of advice if you suspect that your pet shows any signs of obesity. Adult dogs should be fed two times a day (some can be even fed once a day) in the same time routine.

How much to feed senior dogs

Senior dogs have even lower energy requirements than adult dogs. Since they are less active than their younger friends, they don’t need to eat as much. Senior dog food usually contains more protein to help them maintain lean muscle and guarantee better well-being. 

There are also many specific dog food types designed for senior dogs struggling with specific health conditions. A dog nutritionist or a veterinarian is always there to help you adjust your senior dog’s diet to its specific needs

Obesity in dogs is a serious problem 

You may wonder now, why try so hard and put so much effort into establishing a consistent feeding routine for my dog? The answer is simple, to prevent obesity, which can be deadly to dogs. 

Since dogs became humans’ best friends, they learned many human behaviors. One of them is eating too much and too often which leads directly to obesity. In fact obesity in both humans and pets is considered a serious civilization disease. 

Of course, some amount of fat in the body of your pet is important to insulate it against cold conditions and provide energy reserves, but when your furry friend looks all funny and chubby, then you know it’s too much fat.

Obesity in dogs can lead to many other health problems such as diabetes, urinary bladder stones, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, or bowel problems. These can all be fatal. To prevent obesity in dogs, it is necessary to feed them regularly, with portions adapted to their age and correct weight.

Tips to feeding dog in a healthy manner

Control portion sizes 

Take the daily food allowance for your dog and divide it into two or three similar portions. Controlling the portions of your dog food allows you to reduce the feeling of hunger throughout the day, helps better digestion, especially in puppies, and reduces the chances of becoming obese. 

Establish a feeding routine 

Establishing a consistent feeding routine is beneficial to your dog. Dogs are creatures of habit and benefit from having any type of routine. A feeding routine will help your dog create a healthy eating pattern throughout the day. The owners also may benefit from a feeding routine, because it can help them recognize any difference in feeding behavior, that otherwise might have been unnoticed. 

Don’t feed before exercise

Feeding your dog right before playtime or exercise is a bad idea. A heavy meal in your dog’s stomach can lead to torsion, vomit, stomach ache, or diarrhea. 

Add some water to your dog’s meal

Mixing your dog’s food with water is a great way of tricking your dog that you’re giving it more food than you are. Adding water to your dog’s meal makes the dog feel full quicker which is great especially with obese dogs who are trying to lose some weight. 

Slow down the eating 

If your dog is is a fast eater consider slowing your dog’s eating process down. This can be done by special feeding bowls which can challenge your dog to eat slower. Another tip for slowing down your dog is hand feeding them, one bite after another. 

Healthily feeding a dog can be extremely difficult, especially for new dog owners. Pet stores offer a variety of different dog food which encourage us for buying more and more food and snacks. However, it is worth being moderate

While puppies require multiple feeding times throughout the day, adult dogs should only have their meal twice a day. If you follow this simple rule, you won’t have to save your animal from obesity, which as we said before can be deadly to dogs. When it comes to your dog’s health and well-being, there is no place for making guesses. Establishing a solid feeding routine is a must if you want to guarantee your pup a long and happy life. 

We hope that now you understand how much should you feed your dog and how much food is enough for your pooch. We provided you with plenty of information on how to feed a dog at different stages of its life and we shared some dog feeding tips with you. Now, go work with your furry friend on eating regularly and cut down on unhealthy, salty snacks!

Cynthia L. Collins

Cynthia L. Collins

Devoted dog lover, a dog mom to her two rescued Shih Tzus Romeo and Elvis, and an Australian Shepherd, Bandit. When she isn’t working, she volunteers in a local shelter and various animal welfare organizations.

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