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How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog?

Updated on January 24, 2018
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How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

The question of how much you should feed your dog is a very important one because, although some dogs will self-regulate quite well, many dogs will just eat whatever you give them. This means they will become overweight and suffer all sorts of health problems as a result of this. And they’ll also have a reduced life expectancy. So in this article I’ll look at what type of food you should feed your dog as well as how much you should feed a puppy as well as an adult dog.

What Should I Feed My Dog?

It's important that you choose a good quality brand of complete food for your pet. Complete foods contain all the nutrients your dog needs to maintain optimum health.

If you are feeding your dog canned food, the first ingredient on the label should be a specific type of meat – not simply ‘meat’ or ‘meat by-products’, and certainly not corn or wheat.

Dogs cannot process grains such as wheat and corn very well, so they will mostly just go straight through them. This means they’ll need to eat more to fulfil their nutritional requirements. Also corn can cause various health problems such as bloating, skin problems and joint swelling.

‘Meat by-products’ are the leftovers such as eyes, hooves, skin and feet. These are not very good for your pet and they have little nutritional value. So always choose a good quality brand.

Dried food tends to be better than canned food in terms of nutritional content however, and it is also better for the health of their gums and mouths. But dogs tend to prefer canned meat, as it usually tastes and smells better, so a good idea is to mix the two in approximately equal amounts.

You could of course just make your own ‘home-made’ dog food if you wish; and this is probably the best way to feed your pet. To do this just cook some meat and/or offal (often you can get out of date meat very cheaply) and mix it with a little brown rice and a spoonful of vegetables.

Dogs are carnivores and their natural food is primarily meat, but they do benefit from having some vegetable matter in their diet, so adding the rice and vegetables will give them some fiber, as well as extra nutrients that they need.

If you feed your dog a poor diet consisting of low quality food, it will only cause your pet to develop health problems over time. And it may also cause him to shed more and have a dull coat and body odour too.

How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?

Puppies should not leave their mother until they are 8 weeks old. If they leave any earlier than this they will find it harder to adjust and will not be as healthy. This is because the mother dog’s milk provides both nutrients and antibodies that the puppy needs in order to become a healthy dog.

A puppy should be started on some solid food at the age of 4 weeks. Usually this would consist of three parts puppy food to one part water.

At the age of 8 weeks a puppy will start to prefer human company to that of its mother and siblings, and you can now take him home. At this age he should be fed three times per day and you can allow him to eat as much as he wants during these feeds (but anything that is not eaten after an hour should be discarded). A puppy needs two to three times the amount of food, per pound of bodyweight, as an adult dog needs (see chart below).

At the age of 3 – 6 months your pet will be teething, so he may have some loss of appetite at this time.

A dog reaches maturity at about the age of one year, though it can be as little as six months for a very small dog, and as much as two years for a very large dog.

How Much Should I Feed My Adult Dog?

Although individual requirements will vary a little, depending on the breed and how active the dog is, the usual amounts of dry food to feed a dog are listed in the table below. These are based on using an 8oz measuring cup. If you are adding in some canned food, simply cut the dry food by up to half the amount and substitute the same volume that you cut out with canned food. A dog can be fed either once or twice per day, so if you prefer to feed him twice per day simply divide the appropriate amount into two feedings.

Dog Type
Weight
Amount
Toy
Up to 10lb
½ - 1 cup
Small
10 - 25lb
1 - 2 cup
Medium
25 - 50lb
2 - 3 cups
Large
50 - 80lb
3 - 4 cups
Giant
Over 80lb
4 - 6 cups

A dog becomes a senior at about the age of 7 (a little less for large breeds and a little more for small breeds), and he’ll now need about 20% less calories, but he’ll need a higher amount of protein.

Mother dogs that are producing milk will need considerably more than the above amounts – up to four times as much.

Some Basic Feeding Tips

  • Try to feed your pet at the same time each day
  • Feed him the same type and brand of food each day, as dogs can’t easily handle changes in their food
  • If you want to change your pets food, do it gradually by mixing the new food in with the old food first
  • You can mix dry food with a little warm water if you wish (use about 4 parts food to one part water)
  • Keep fresh water available at all times and change it at least once per day
  • Don’t overfeed your dog – if he starts to get fat, reduce the amount you are giving him
  • Don't underfeed him either - if you can see his ribs he is too thin and will need to be fed more
  • The occasional raw bone is good for your dog, but don’t give him drumsticks or cooked bones as these are brittle and can splinter
  • The best time to give your pet a bone is after exercise

Interesting fact – dogs have water taste buds, which humans do not have.

So now you know how much you should feed your dog, as well as what you should feed him. Stick to the guidelines given here and you will have a healthy and happy pet for years to come.

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