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How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

How much should you feed your dog? How much dog food is appropriate for his size, and what should you consider before making this decision? Are you absolutely sure you can fulfill any kind of special nutritional needs he might have?

When it comes to dog food, things can get pretty confusing! Navigating deceptive advertising is already a problem for millions of pet owners before you even touch on the nutritional side.

Importance of the Right Dog Food Ammount
How to Know How Much to Feed Your Dog
Don’t ‘Free Feed’
What About Carbohydrates and Grains?
How Often Should you Feed Your Dog Meals?
What About Feeding Wet Dog Food?


Importance of the Right Dog Food Ammount

Imagine an obese dog. This can be any dog breed at all, as long as you can picture one. He is getting older, and developing some arthritis (natural for many dogs at a later stage in life). Because he is overweight, those already weak joints are forced to support an unnatural amount of weight, causing a kind of positive feedback loop of pain and discomfort.

The more he moves, the more damage to these joints. Physical activity decreases as your adorable pup refuses to exercise, and he gains more weight.

How to Know How Much to Feed Your Dog

If you want to get very specific, there are a wide variety of factors for you to consider! You should be looking at things like the type of food, frequency of meals, breed and weight, exercise, and age/metabolism (how active). These all contribute to weight gain/ loss and general nutrition.

Thankfully, recommended serving sizes are already calculated on the majority of commercial dog food packaging for you! For example, a standard feeding amount would be ⅓ of a cup of dry dog food for every 10 pounds a dog weighs over 100. If this is confusing, detailed instructions should be on the back of your chosen packaging.

Unless you are feeding a special diet that doesn’t involve manufactured dry dog food, any packaging of dry dog food purchased from a US manufacturer should include serving sizes.

Breed Type

Is your pup a toy, small, medium, large, or giant breed? Recommendations should be offered on the packaging itself for the weight of the dog.

Don’t ‘Free Feed’

It can be tempting to just fill a large bowl or two in the morning and leave them out for your pup to munch on during the day. After all, it sure is easier, and you should always have an unlimited source of water! Why not unlimited food also?

The simple answer is weight gain! If it is available whenever he wants, your dog is likely to eat well over the recommended portions. Beyond simple weight gain, there are almost limitless health concerns associated with obesity that can not only make your pup’s life uncomfortable but shorten his lifespan.

Why will some dogs just keep on eating?

Dogs descended from animals who would sometimes go for days at a time without a meal and had (still have to) guard these meals against other predators when they do get them. Our dogs inherited an instinct to eat meals when they are available, especially if your pup develops a resource guarding issue. Today’s dogs don’t burn nearly the energy or calories hunting that prey that their ancestral wolves did; it is freely given.

There are always going to be exceptions, but free, open feeding is usually not recommended by any health professional most of the time. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing and why if you do decide to free feed.

What about water?

Water should never be limited. You always want to keep an open-source of fresh, clean drinking water for your pup! If nighttime accidents are a problem, consider attending to your training or consulting a veterinarian.

Older Dogs

As they get older, dogs become less active, their metabolism begins to slow, and they can gain weight easier than earlier in life. In this case, serving recommendations might change. To truly make the best choice for your unique pup and his own situation, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian.

What About Carbohydrates and Grains?

As pet food manufacturers grow along with the pet industry, there is an increasing drive for cheaply made foods filled with more grown ingredients and less animal meat. Plant filler like corn and grains, or too many other vegetables, are too high in carbohydrates. This results in weight gain!

This is the main reason for the ‘grain-free’ craze today. While you don’t always need to eliminate grains completely, limiting grains is a good idea. Additionally, try to avoid anything with a plant source as the first ingredient, or anything composed mostly of corn.

  • Ingredients are always listed on your pet food label in order by weight (amount).


How Often Should you Feed Your Dog Meals?

Puppies are generally recommended two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. In fact, most adults are recommended two smaller meals as opposed to one larger meal. If you still aren’t sure, simply follow the nutritional instructions on the back of your packaging. Feeding two smaller meals will help sustain your pet’s energy requirements, limit certain growth issues due to rapid or excess eating, and help prevent ‘Bloat’!

Newborn pups will nurse often but need to be bottle-fed every 2 hours if the mother isn’t in the picture.

What About Feeding Wet Dog Food?

Because it is ‘wet’ and not dry kibble, the moisture content will be higher while the actual dry matter nutritional content will be lower. This isn’t a bad thing! You’ll need to decide what is more important for your pet’s situation. Just like all your dog food packaging, serving sizes will be recommended.

Wet food offers hydrational benefits, and is easier to ‘chew’. If a medical reason makes it difficult for your dog to eat, this might be a good option. At the same time, dry food tends to be better for oral or dental health, and offer several additional benefits.

Author: Amena Juli

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