Your Questions Answered: How Much Should I Feed my Dog
Many pet parents fear under feeding or over feeding their dog. After all, there is no ‘one size-fits all’ approach to feeding. Age, breed, sex, activity level and food type all affect how much food your dog will require. And with pet obesity rates on the rise, it can be a challenge to find a happy medium to keep your dog a healthy weight without feeling hungry. But it is entirely possible!
Determining your dog’s food intake is a process that requires you to monitor the results of your feeding and tweak portions as necessary, ensuring your dog maintains good health and an optimal body weight.
The following dog feeding guidelines will help you establish how much to feed your dog.
8 Feeding Guidelines for Figuring Out How Much to Feed Dogs
1. Know your dog’s daily calorie requirement.
Your dog’s daily calorie requirement is determined by their ideal body weight and is a starting point in determining how much food your dog requires. Check out your dog’s calorie requirement below.
|Healthy Weight (lbs.)||Daily Calorie Intake (kcal)||Healthy Weight (kgs)||Daily Calorie Intake|
2. Know the calorie content of your dog’s food.
To feed your dog the correct serving size you need to know the calorie content of your dog’s food. Commercial pet foods list this information on packaging. If you home-cook for your dog, you will need to research the calorie content of your recipe ingredients.
Knowing your dog’s daily calorie requirement together with the calorie content of your dog’s food, enables you to correctly portion your dog’s meals to meet your dog’s calorie needs.
3. Don’t forget treats and extras.
Set aside up to 10% of your dog’s calorie intake towards treats and extras. Remember, everything your dog eats (treats, extras, chews) should be included in your dog’s daily calorie intake.
4. Monitor you dog’s weight regularly.
If your dog drops below their ideal weight, increase food intake by monthly increments of 10%. If gaining too much weight, reduce intake by 10%. Weigh your dog regularly and track weight changes with your free WAGSTA Weight tracker.
To maintain consistency in feeding, get in the habit of weighing dog food portions. Avoid estimating or eye-balling scooped portions, as this often leads to over/under feeding, especially for small breed dogs.
6. Avoid switching foods.
Choose a quality food your dog enjoys and stick with it. Dog foods differ in their calorie and nutrient content. Therefore, regularly switching foods will alter your dog’s nutrient intake and will require you to re-calculate the correct portions to feed.
7. Ignore packet feeding guidelines.
These guidelines tend of over-estimate the amount of food your dog requires. They also fail to consider any extra food types or treats your dog may be receiving. View packet feeding guidelines as the upper limit to your dog’s intake.
8. Seek your vet’s input.
Puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs, and dogs with health conditions have increased energy requirements and more complex feeding needs. Discuss your dog’s specialized feeding requirements with your veterinarian.
Finding a quality dog food is an involved process considering the tens of thousands of dog foods available. The Consumers Advocate BEST Dog Foods 2020 article addresses the complexities in rating dog foods and helps navigate the minefield of internet advice available.
To compile your own short-list of dog foods focus on finding a food which:
- Fits within your budget
- Is suited to the growth profile of your dog. i.e. puppy vs reproduction vs adult maintenance vs mature dog
- Is ‘complete and balanced’ – this AAFCO statement ensures the dog food is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional requirements.
- Contains an ingredient list with readily identifiable ingredients. A quality protein source should be listed in the first few ingredients.
(Tip: ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity. Foods with higher protein content will help your dog feel full longer!)
Your dog’s food should satisfy your dog’s appetite and support a glossy coat, whilst providing your dog an energetic and playful outlook.
For dogs with health conditions, it is advisable to seek your veterinarian’s advice over the many prescription diets available. From renal failure and hepatic disease through to arthritis and obesity, specially formulated diets can make a big impact in managing your dog’s condition.