The amount of calories and nutritional requirements necessary for dogs changes significantly as they age and go through their life stages.
Many owners wonder if they might feed too much or too little as their dog grows or transitions into a new phase in life. So, this raises an excellent question, “how much food should I feed my dog?”
If you’re one of the many unsure owners wondering the same thing, then keep reading as this article will teach you what you need to know about how much to feed your four-legged friend.
What Affects How Much a Dog Should Eat?
There’s no actual rule of thumb about exactly how much food to feed a dog because that depends on the diet and a few other key things.
There are three factors that can have an effect on how much food you are giving your dog:
When it comes to understanding how much food is just the right amount, you must take those three factors into consideration. If you are feeding your dog a random or unmeasured amount, it is very likely that you are not giving them the appropriate quantity of food to get them to their necessary nutritional requirements.
The Age of Your Dog
Age is an important factor when it comes to knowing how much to feed our dogs. When puppies are young and growing quickly, they tend to be voracious eaters and full of energy.
These kiddos like to bounce off the walls, explore and run until they pass out, meaning they need to eat more food, more frequently to keep up with their calorie output.
The Breed of Your Dog
With there being hundreds of dog breeds, all created with different jobs and uses in mind, their energy levels and metabolisms can vary significantly.
Many dogs that are working or herding breeds are more active, therefore they will require more food to keep up with their nutritional requirements.
Every dog has its own unique metabolism, and some dogs seem to burn more calories than others.
Greyhounds, or most Sighthounds for that matter, seem to have a hard time gaining weight and always be very lean. But bulldogs, pitbulls, and labradors have a common problem of becoming overweight and obese. It’s just in their genetics.
A dog that is meant more for personal companionship like our snorty Pugs is not going to need nearly as much food like a dog that is close to their size but much more active.
Now, this may seem obvious, but small dogs will not need to eat the same quantity of food that a German Shepherd eats, nor should they, as they would quickly become overweight or obese. Just like how an active Cattledog will need a lot more food than a couch potato of a Bulldog.
The Calorie Requirements of Your Dog
Very active dogs will need to eat more food, more frequently, so if you and your canine companion like to spend a lot of time exercising, then it would be pertinent to increase their food quantities to keep up with their calorie output.
It is best to monitor your puppy’s growth during the first year, as their calorie requirements will change a few times. If they seem to gain too much unnecessary weight, it would be a good idea to back them off while they are still young and burning fat quickly.
Using Appropriate Portion Sizes When Feeding Your Dog
While some dogs will eat until they get sick, the average dog will eat until they are full. That’s why choosing a specific quantity to give your dog can be so different from what the bag recommends.
It is always a good idea to look at the bowl, how much and how quickly your dog ate the food, as well as their body condition.
If your dog appears to be gaining weight and is losing that healthy tucked abdomen or trim waistline they once had, then it would be a good idea to cut back on how much you’re giving them.
How Much Food Should Puppies Eat?
Puppies grow rapidly and require more food than the average adult. Their nutrition is the foundation of their growth and overall health. A balanced and complete diet is necessary to ensure proper bone and organ development during the first year of life.
It is recommended that a puppy’s daily amount of food is split into small frequent meals ( 3-4 times) throughout the day to keep up with their energy levels and nutritional requirements.
If these dogs are not given the appropriate amount of food, they can suffer from decreased energy, low calcium levels, and hypoglycemia (more common in tiny and small breeds).
While it is best to feed these pups 3 or 4 times a day, it is also important not to overfeed them. Puppies that are overweight are more likely to be overweight or obese than adults.
How Much Food Should Adult Dogs Eat?
Adult dogs can be fed once to twice daily. If your dog is mostly indoors and doesn’t burn a lot of calories throughout the day, it wouldn’t hurt to feed them less than what the bag of food suggests.
All brands of foods will have their own recommendations as far as how much they think you should feed your dog. However, the quantity recommendation for feeding dogs is often over-calculated with many brands of commercial foods.
If your dog starts gaining weight and is no longer a trim, healthy size, then it would be pertinent to decrease how much you are giving them and increase their daily exercise.
If those steps don’t help and your dog continues to gain weight, you may want to check with your veterinarian or keep an eye on the rest of the family to see who is sneaking the extra snacks.
How Much Food Should Senior Dogs Eat?
Senior dogs should be fed a senior dog food diet. That way, they are receiving more easily digestible fibers and the additional glucosamine and chondroitin that these older doggos need.
The quantity of food should be based on the brand’s recommendation, keeping in mind that you will probably have to decrease that amount.
Again, these companies often over calculate how much food is really necessary for the average dog’s calorie output.
It is extremely important that senior dogs don’t become overweight, as the added pressure on their joints can lead to debilitating arthritis. Not to mention complications with high blood pressure and kidney disease.
What Kind of Schedule Should I Feed My Dog On?
A meal schedule is important for establishing good mealtime behavior, aiding in digestive function, and avoiding overeating. It is suggested to feed them in the morning for breakfast and in the evening for dinner.
Some owners prefer to use a “free feeding” method, which is not typically recommended by veterinarians. When there is a household with multiple dogs, it can be difficult to ensure each dog is eating an appropriate amount. Free feeding will often lead to dogs becoming overweight, especially if the dog enjoys eating when they’re bored.
Asking Your Veterinarian About How Much You Should Feed Your Dog
Your dog should see a veterinarian at least once a year as an adult and more often when a puppy or senior canine. If you are at all concerned that you are not providing your dog with the appropriate amount of food, then do not hesitate to ask them.
During an exam, your veterinarian will note the body condition score of your dog. The scale ranges from 1 being way too skinny and 5 or 9, depending on which scale they use, would be obese.
If your dog doesn’t have a tuck in their abdomen from the side and a taper at their waistline from above, then it is likely that your dog is not an ideal weight.
Having the quantity of food reduced will usually be the first recommended form of action from your vet. They will also suggest taking your dog on at least 2-4 walks a day for about 15 minutes each for light exercise.
Final Thoughts on How Much Food Do I Feed My Dog
Always consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s weight.
Sometimes struggling to either gain or lose weight can be an indicator of health problems that are lingering under the surface. Just like how metabolism and caloric requirements vary from person to person, the same goes for dogs.
It is important to feed your pooch the right amount of a high-quality dog food diet to ensure that you are keeping them as healthy as possible.