A common question among pet owners is how much you should actually feed your dog. The proper amount is actually determined by several different factors, including age, breed, and activity level. This article will seek to clarify how much food your dog should actually be getting.
Factor # 1 – Age
How old your dog is will play a large factor in how much your dog should be eating, particularly in the puppy stage.
First 8 Weeks – In reality, puppies should not be separated from their mother before 8 weeks of age. However, there are some circumstances where it is appropriate to, or you didn’t have a choice. In this case, there are formulas you can purchase to get them by. You should follow the instructions on the formula closely, as each one is different. At about 4 weeks, you should try to start feeding the puppy some dry food. Sometimes it helps to mix it in with some formula, to get a puppy used to it.
6-8 Weeks – Puppies should be fed 3-4 times per day, any nutritional puppy food will do.
8 Weeks – 9 Months – Puppies should be fed twice per day.
9 Months – Reduce feeding to once per day.
Between 1 and 2 Years – Start your puppy on adult dog food, still keeping at once a day. If you have a larger dog, make sure they do not come off the puppy food until 2 years of age. Larger dogs may also require two feedings per day.
Factor # 2 – Breed
Different breeds have different requirements, however below is a generalization based off weight classes.
Dogs up to 10 lbs – 1/3 – 1 cup of food.
Dogs from 10-25 lbs – 1 to 2 1/4 cups of food.
Dogs from 25-50 lbs –2 to 3 3/4 cups of food
Dogs from 50-75 lbs – 3 to 5 cups of food.
Dogs over 75 lbs – 5 to 8 cups of food.
Again these are very general statements with a lot of room for adjustment. The best thing you can do is look to your dog for answers. If he or she is constantly begging for food, you may need to feed them more. Likewise if they are consistently not finishing their meal you should be able to feed them a little bit less.
Factor # 3 – Activity Level
Just like humans, a dog’s activity level is a large factor in how much they should eat each day. However, unlike humans, counting calories is not the proper way to determine how much you should be feeding your dog. Active dogs should be getting a different protein to fat ratio than inactive dogs. An active dog should have up to 20% fat in their diet due to the excess energy they burn off. Comparatively, an inactive or overweight dog should not have over 9% fat in their diet. This excess fat needed by active dogs can be received either by special food with a high fat content, or by simply feeding you dog more each day.