How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog?

Plus how often to feed your dog.

dog with paws on a persons knees and pieces of food

If your dog sits under your feet and begs every time you eat, you might wonder if you feed him enough.

So, how much food should you actually feed your dog?

We reached out to Dr. Dwight Alleyne, a veterinarian in Marietta, Georgia, and Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian with Hepper, to find out the ideal feeding schedule for your pup.

How much to feed a dog

There are a number of things to take into account when deciding how much food to feed your dog.

“Factors that you should consider when figuring out how much to feed include how active your dog is, how old your dog is, whether the food is canned or dry, whether your dog gets treats throughout the day and the caloric density of the food,” Dr. Alleyne told The Dodo.

  • Age — Dogs need different amounts of food at different stages of their lives. For example, puppies need a lot of calories since they’re still growing, while senior dogs need fewer calories because dogs’ metabolisms slow as they age.
  • Activity level — Dogs who get lots of exercise will burn more calories than dogs who are couch potatoes, so they may need to eat more.
  • Type of food — The type and brand of food you give your dog will help you determine how much to give him since wet food, dry food and different brands of foods have varying amounts of calories and nutrients.
  • Health — If your dog’s overweight or obese, he may need to eat less so he can lose weight (and he’ll probably need a special diet).

To get an idea of the right amount for your dog, take a look at the feeding chart on his dog food. There should be recommendations for how much to give him on the side of the bag or can.

“Feeding recommendations on dog food labels are a good place to start when trying to determine the right amount of food for your dog,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo. “However, they are recommendations only. You may need to adjust these amounts up or down depending on what your vet determines is best.”

How much to feed a dog per day chart

chart with amounts to feed a dog

How often to feed a dog

An adult dog should be fed twice per day, about 8 to 12 hours apart, Dr. Bonk said.

Puppies need to eat more often to feed their growing bodies. You can start off by feeding your puppy three to four times per day until he’s 6 months old. At that point, you can switch him to two meals a day.

Most vets don’t recommend leaving your dog’s food out for him to graze all day since that can lead to weight gain. If you have more than one dog, leaving their food out can also make it hard to tell how much each one has eaten, and one dog can easily eat both pups’ food.

How many treats can a dog have?

Giving your dog too many treats can quickly cause him to gain weight if you don’t adjust the amount of food you give him.

“Treats need to be considered as part of the daily caloric intake for your dog,” Dr. Alleyne said. “If your dog exceeds their daily caloric intake with their treats, there is a risk for weight gain.”

Because of this, most vets recommend that treats only make up around 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories.

“If you’re feeding your dog lots of treats, be sure to adjust their meal amounts in order to accommodate these extra calories,” Dr. Bonk said.

How to choose dog food

Not only should you make sure to feed your dog the correct amount of food, but you should also make sure you’re feeding him high-quality food.

The most important thing to look for when picking out dog food is that it says it’s “complete.” Complete foods meet the nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for adult dog foods (adult maintenance) to contain at least 18 percent protein, 5.5 percent fat and 0.5 percent calcium.

Be sure to get the appropriate food for your dog’s life stage since puppy food and senior dog food have different nutritional requirements than adult dog food.

Make sure the food’s made with real whole-food ingredients, such as lamb, beef and corn. The first ingredient in the food should ideally be a natural ingredient, like chicken.

Grain-free food isn’t recommended because it can cause heart problems in dogs, so you shouldn’t feed it to your pup unless your vet specifically says he needs it for a grain allergy.

Even if your pup seems like he’s always looking for food, you should only feed him a set amount of food and at certain times of the day to make sure he stays healthy (and don’t forget a few treats now and then).

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