It's a common question, how much to feed a dog? Many dog owners don't know exactly how much food their dog should be eating each day. The amount food to feed your dog each day varies depending on the dog's size, breed, weight, health condition, activity level and the type of food you're feeding.
Depending on the circumstances, it can be either very easy to figure out how much to feed your dog, or not easy at all. If it's the latter, I recommend that pet owners reach out to their veterinarian or a canine nutritionist for help answering this question. The expert you choose will be able to evaluate your dog and the diet that you're feeding to help you decipher the correct amount of food he should be eating per serving.
How Much to Feed a Dog
If you feed your dog a commercial diet, it should be quite easy to figure out the feeding guidelines. Pet food companies are required to put the feeding guidelines right on the packaging. In fact, you can learn a lot about the food that you're feeding your canine companion by reading the label.
As an example, here's a close-up of the back of IAMS food feeding guidelines:
The left side shows exactly the amount to give to a healthy adult dog of certain weight. The right side contains some feeding warnings and advice for adjustments.
Following such dog food feeding instructions like on the packaging above is the best way to feed a commercial dog food brand. However, these instructions are usually of the “one-size-fits-all” variety, and generally meant for healthy dogs with normal body composition.
Some dogs may require adjustments to those feeding guidelines mentioned on the package. For example, overweight dogs or those with sedentary lifestyle will need fewer calories, while more active dogs will need more calories.
Depending on your dog's health condition, he may need more or less vitamins and minerals than the average dog, too. For example, dogs with a condition known as hypocalcemia (low blood calcium) will need to eat a calcium-rich diet, so you'll need to buy a dog food brand that's better suited for this.
For this reason, it's always best to consult your veterinarian or a certified canine nutritionist before selecting a commercial or homemade diet for your dog.
Homemade Dog Food Feeding Guide
Feeding commercial dog food is pretty straight forward, but what about homemade dog food? How do you know how much to feed a dog if you prepare the food yourself at home? If not, I recommend you watch/read my guide on how much homemade dog food to feed. Below, I will also include some of the basics you need to keep in mind.
Most high quality homemade dog food recipes will include serving size instructions (I always include them in my recipes). However, you still need to take your dog's size, weight and activity level into consideration. Again, overweight dogs will need fewer calories, more active dogs will need more calories, and so on.
If the dog food recipe does not include serving size guidelines, a safe go-to is to begin by feeding 1/2 cup for every 20-25 pounds of body weight. You'll need to consider your dog's size, weight and activity level with this method, too.
It's also important that you both weigh and monitor your dog closely in the coming weeks as you're feeding the exact amount of this recipe each day. Then, if the dog is gaining or losing weight, you will need to adjust the serving size accordingly until you hit a sweet spot.
Note that the nutritional content of the dog food recipe will also effect how much to feed a dog and the exact amounts to give. That is to say, every single recipe will always have different serving suggestions and amounts. Every dog's nutritional needs are different, so it's important to consult with a vet or nutritionist to figure out the exact nutrients that your pup should be eating every day.
Here are a few other of my homemade food guides that I recommend you read/watch:
- How Much Homemade Dog Food to Feed Your Dog
- What Supplements You Need for Homemade Dog Food Meals
- 3 Things to Know Before Switching to Homemade Dog Food Diet
- How to Store Homemade Dog Food
- 12 Most Common Questions I’m Asked About Homemade Dog Food
If your pet's diet doesn't provide enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that he needs, the dog's body will become nutrient deficient and malnourished. Similarly, if the dog's diet provides too many vitamins and minerals, he could suffer from nutrient toxicity.
The bottom line is that you must consult with an expert to figure out the most appropriate feeding amount of homemade food. This isn't something that you'll have to do just once, either: your pup's nutritional needs will change as the dog grows. You must touch base with your veterinarian at your dog's yearly check-ups to make sure that his diet is still meeting his needs.