When I got my very first puppy one of the first questions I needed to answer was, how much should I feed my dog? Now, having cared for many dogs and been involved in dog ownership for multiple decades, guess what – I still ask the same question, only slightly modified: how much should I feed this particular dog, right now.

how much should I feed my dog
Know your dog’s healthy, optimum weight

Novice dog owners and experienced dog owners will face this conundrum on a regular basis.

The answer is, you feed your dog according to the following rules:

  1. Your dog’s age
  2. Your dog’s breed / type
  3. Your dog’s current weight
  4. Your dog’s current activity level
  5. Your dog’s specific ability to handle different types of food

How much food does a dog really need?

It seems not many a day goes by where we’re not hearing more about the rise and rise of obesity. Sadly, our pets are also widening around the girth.

It is of course easy to control the amount of food your dog is eating and it is essential that you gauge your dog’s weight on a regular basis to ensure that it doesn’t get obese.

Health problems from overfeeding dogs

There are an increasing number of dogs suffering from this disease and in most cases this could have been avoided through the correct nutrition and monitoring the amount of food the dog has been eating.

Having a dog with diabetes will necessitate the injection of insulin or in some cases taking of pills to assist in the maintenance of the correct sugar levels in their blood.

Obviously this involves additional expense and inconvenience and there is also a danger that should the insulin level be incorrect your pet could die. All of this from simply giving them too much food? You bet!

Dog feeding guidelines: how much food should me dog be eating?

It makes sense then that your dog should only eat what is good for it and in quantities that won’t result in it developing health problems later in life.

Feeding guidelines on dog food can be a good starting point when assessing how much dog food is the right amount, but as Dr Lowe told K9 Magazine:

“feeding guidelines on dog food packaging are extremely useful but should serve as a starting point only when assessing the right amount of food in your dog’s daily diet.”

Working dogs will need more food for the energy that they will expend in the course of the day but a dog that lays around the house all day and doesn’t get any exercise will not need to eat the same portions of food.

You should weigh your dog on a regular basis and see whether it is gaining or losing weight and adjust the amount of food it is eating accordingly.

You know, it’s quite incredible the amount of people who have literally no idea how much their dog weighs or indeed any idea of how much they should weigh. Simply getting to grips with this information can literally extend your dog’s life, in some cases for a considerable amount of time.

Many experts argue that there has been a general decline in the general health of dogs that correlates with the widespread introduction of certain types of processed dog foods.

Many of these low quality dog foods offer very little nutritional value but it is their convenience and the fact that they have added flavours that ensure our pets get delight in eating them that have increased the sales and popularity of this food. Understanding your dog’s specific nutritional requirements, again, can add years to their life.

Free dog weight chart

Bad diets for dogs have tragic consequences

Just as we might like to eat foods that contain sugar, which is detrimental to our health, our dogs also like to eat these low value foods because they taste so good – in many cases, with dogs being such scavengers, they’ll simply beg for ANY food that’s potentially on offer. It is entirely in our control not to harm their health by giving in to their longing expressions! So if you’re wondering how much should I feed my dog of sugary snacks…the answer is (if possible) zero!

Can I feed my dog table scraps?

If our diet is bad, often our dog’s is too. Don’t believe me?

A study by K9 Magazine showed that 98% of dog owners had fed their pets with scraps from their own tables at one time or another.

Dogs can eat table scraps, of course, but it’s a simple formula to calculate that if our own diet is not healthy and we’re sharing that with our dogs then – our bad food = dogs sharing in our own poor diet!

But therein lies another problem with many of the foods that we eat, unsuitable for dog consumption.

Many people are finding good results in preparing their own dog food using only those ingredients that will enhance the health of the dog but don’t discount the range of high quality diets that are available in prepared form. Don’t for a second assume they’re all bad because nothing could be further from the truth.

Good quality dog nutrition is available in the form of commercially prepared foods, canned dog food, raw dog food and even tailor-made dog food. The quality isn’t the main issue here if you’re asking yourself how much should I feed my dog, but over (or under) feeding will have a detrimental effect on your dog in multiple ways. It can and most likely will lead to them having a shorter lifespan.

What the experts say about how much you should feed your dog:

Here we’ve summarised a series of tips from credible dog nutrition sources to help you answer the question how much should I feed my dog:

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  1. Naturally, smaller dogs need less food than larger ones, but what exactly is the perfect number? First, it’s important to have an accurate handle on how much your dog weighs and whether their body size is considered small, medium, or large.
  2. Young pups and senior dogs have very different needs – puppies need food for their growing bodies while adult dogs’ diets should be focused on maintaining their health.
  3. One of the best ways to keep dogs healthy is to feed them the right amount of a high-quality dog food. Feeding a lot more of a low quality food doesn’t compensate for nutritional deficiencies.
  4. For more on diagnosing an overweight dog, see this dog weight chart.
  5. If you are feeding a different brand, please consult the calorie information on-pack and adjust the amount of food accordingly to meet your dog’s recommended daily calories. Many people make the mistake of switching dog food brands and assuming they can feed the same volume of dog food. That can have big consequences.
  6. To determine how much food to feed your dog, you should start by knowing your dog’s estimated adult weight. Weighing your dog is the key to knowing how much to feed them.
  7. The value of feeding your dog a high-quality food is huge. Poor quality foods produce more waste, can cause digestive problems and often end up being more expensive (because to satisfy your dog you will need to feed him comparatively more).
  8. If you have an adult dog that maintains normal activity levels and doesn’t need special nutrition, check out pet food company Purina’s Dog Chow guide below to see how much food to feed your dog.
  9. It is also not ideal to feed your dog cat food as, since it is designed for cats, it doesn’t have the right balance of vitamins and minerals for dogs.
  10. A healthy feeding schedule and diet will ensure your dog is getting all of the proper nutrients they need from their food. (see: how often should I feed my dog?)
  11. It’s not just a matter of food quantity, so another question is, “How many calories should my dog eat?” There is a dog feeding calculator by weight available in the links below if you’re wondering exactly how much I should feed my dog.
  12. If you are using a commercial dog food, feed your dog the amount printed on the bag that fits with your dog’s ideal weight. This is so, so important. (see how to read dog food labels)
  13. Thinking about feeding raw dog food? (see Raw dog food for beginners)
  14. Since puppies are growing rapidly, they need more food than adult dogs in some cases (whacky, but true)
  15. Not all dogs can or need to eat the amount recommended by the food manufacturers. Speak with your vet if your dog is following the manufacturers guidelines but is either gaining or losing weight.
  16. Does the amount to be fed in the feeding guidelines pertain to each meal or the daily amount of how much I should feed my dog? How accurate are the feeding guidelines on my dog food label? The manufacturers’ recommended feeding guidelines are a starting point but your dog is your dog, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  17. Too little food each day can cause dogs to be deficient in vital nutrients that help keep dogs healthy.
  18. Puppies need a high-energy food and because they are growing so fast they’ll require a food with more protein and calcium to help build a healthy adult dog, and more calorie-heavy fats to load them up with fuel.
  19. Dogs that gulp their food down too quickly tend to take in large amounts of air whilst eating which can cause stomach and digestive system upset. (beware the dangers of bloat in dogs)
  20. Even though puppies grow quickly, it’s important to keep caloric intake and food amount consistent from four to twelve months of age.
  21. Older dogs usually require lower caloric intake and may get heavy eating the same food they were eating in their younger years.
  22. Most adult dogs should eat two meals a day, and puppies often require three or more feedings, so you’ll need to divide the amount in the table by the number of meals you are offering.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog – Sources

How Much To Feed Your Dog | Prudent Pet Insurance Prudent Pet Insurance
How Much Should Dogs Eat? | Calculate How Much to Feed Your Dog | PetMD PetMD
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog? American Kennel Club
Dog Feeding Guide Purina
How Much Food Should You Feed Your Dog? | Dog Food Advisor MedicAnimal
Dog Food Calculator by Breed & Weight | JustFoodForDogs JustDogFood
Dog Feeding Time: How Much and How Often? WebMD
Do You Know How Much You Should Feed Your Dog? Central California SPCA, Fresno, CA
10 FAQ’s about dog feeding guidelines | Dry Dog Food | Dog Food |
Dog Feeding Guidelines Purina
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