Whether our dog is an eat-to-live or live-to-eat type of pup, one of the best things you can do for their lifelong health is help them maintain a healthy weight.
It starts with feeding them the proper amount of food.
Many factors determine how much food they need, including their breed, age, size, and activity level. The larger and more active your dog, the more calories they need each day.
How Much Should You Feed Your Dog Each Day?
The amount that you need to feed your dog will vary. However, it’s important to realize that, when looking at a dog food feeding chart, the serving size suggested is almost always the amount your dog needs daily—not for each meal.
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For example, if it says you should feed your dog two cups of food and you feed them twice a day, they would need one cup for each meal. Different dog foods contain different amounts of calories and nutrients, so you should always consult the feeding chart for the specific food you feed your dog.
How Much You Should Feed Your Puppy
Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. For example, they often need to eat more times per day—while you might feed your adult dog twice daily, puppies need three to four meals each day.
When feeding a puppy, you should watch the dog and not the dish. Set a regular schedule for their meals, and take away any leftovers after 10 to 20 minutes to help them establish good eating habits.
And don’t worry if they miss out by not quite eating enough at one meal. They will likely eat more during the next meeting, and it helps them learn to eat while food is available. Plus, since they get frequent meals, they won’t be hungry for long.
How Much You Should Feed Your Adult Dog
Most adult dogs need to eat twice a day—typically once in the morning and the evening. It’s also crucial to ensure they always have fresh water available. Any reliable brand of dog food will print guidelines on the bag for you to follow based on your pet’s current size and ideal weight.
We mentioned two types of eaters earlier: eat to live and live to eat dogs.
Eat-to-live dogs often don’t have any trouble maintaining a healthy weight as long as they get plenty of exercise. For these pets, you can typically leave their food out throughout the day, and they will eat as much or little as they need.
On the other hand, live-to-eat dogs need help with portion control. If you are having issues helping them maintain a healthy weight, your vet can give you ideas for portion and weight control, which may include premium food and a specialized diet.
Feeding Your Dog Based on Breed, Age, and Size
Your dog’s breed won’t impact their dietary needs as much as their size will. Typically, the larger the dog, the more food they need. We can all agree that keeping a Mastiff going takes a few more calories than a pomeranian. It’s important to keep this in mind while thinking about your dog’s nutrition.
Age plays a factor, too. During the first year of your dog’s life, their portion sizes will rise month to month. However, once they are an adult and stop growing, their portions will largely remain the same.
And as dogs get older, they have changing dietary needs. For example, senior dogs are much less active than younger pups, so they need significantly fewer calories.
When in doubt, your vet can always help with recommended portion sizes for your specific pet.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
Feeding your pet the right amount of times each day makes life easier for everyone. Too little food can cause internal problems and stunt growth, while too much food can cause bowel issues and result in obesity.
Two meals per day are generally ideal for adult dogs and can help them maintain metabolic processes while keeping them from feeling hungry.
On the other hand, puppies need to eat three to four times each day, depending on their breed. That’s because smaller meals are easier for them to digest and help keep their energy level consistent throughout the day. However, it doesn’t mean you should increase their caloric intake—you should divide their daily amount of food into each meal so that you don’t overfeed your new puppy.
You’ll likely also offer them treats during non-meal times, which increases their caloric intake and, like with us, helps keep them feeling full until it’s time for the next few.
And especially for puppies, you need to remember that when you put food in, it will have to come out. You should try to time meals so that you will be available around an hour after they eat to let them outside.
You should feed puppies shortly after they get up and about every three to four hours until bedtime.
Tips For Creating a Healthy Dog Diet
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Over their life, your dog will develop its own dietary preferences. Some food will sit well with them while others will not. Here are some tips to help keep them on a healthy diet:
- Especially for new puppies or recently adopted dogs, it’s important to monitor their health to gain an understanding on how your feeding plan is going. Some dogs may love natural protein, while others might hate it.
It’s a good idea to try different foods to find out which they like the most.
- Portions are not set in stone. Depending on your pet’s overall health and activity level, you’ll likely need to adjust their portion size. Like our diets, more calories equal more energy—your dog just needs to burn them off.
- Any treats you give your good boy count towards their daily calories also. The best approach is to follow the 10% rule, meaning that the treats you give your dog should not exceed 10% of their daily caloric intake.