How Much Should I Feed My Dog?
Food is a significant aspect of dog care. As dog owners, you should be well-informed on how much you should feed your dog and what food you should avoid. There is no better way of taking good care of a dog than to keep a close eye on its food consumption.
In this article, we will discuss the following issues –
Importance of Healthy Diet
For commercial dog food, you can refer to the feeding guidelines indicated on the package, and you are free to adjust the food amount to be fed based on your dog’s response to that amount of food. For dogs 20 pounds and below, their food should be divided into two or more meals a day – ideally, it is breakfast and dinner.
This meal division also works better for larger dogs since they are more prone to suffer GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus) – a fatal stomach condition in which air accumulates in the stomach that can ultimately cause it to rotate. The risk of this condition is lowered by dividing the dog’s daily food ration.
How Much Food Should You Feed Your Dog?
Every dog’s needs are different, and so is the amount of food that they should consume. The amount of food you should give to your dog depends largely on its size, age, breed, and activity level.
So, it is always best that you consult your veterinarian first about the ideal weight your dog should maintain based on the factors mentioned. It is the most precise way that your vet will be able to help you determine the appropriate portion size for your adult dog.
For adult dogs (over nine months of age), their entire daily intake may be fed to them in just one meal or may be divided into two meals.
The benefit of feeding two meals a day is that dogs will be able to efficiently maintain their bodies’ needs for the entire day’s activities. More so, the appropriateness of portion size may slightly vary depending on whether the food is served dry or wet.
The feeding chart below as general guidelines on how much to feed an adult dog with home-cooked food. Take note that 1 cup equates to 8 ounces.
For commercial dog food, you can refer to the feeding guidelines indicated on the package, and you are free to adjust the food amount to be fed based on your dog’s response to that amount of food. For dogs 20 pounds and below, their food should be divided into two or more meals a day – ideally, it is breakfast and dinner. This meal division also works better for larger dogs since they are more prone to suffer GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus) – a fatal stomach condition in which air accumulates in the stomach that can ultimately cause it to rotate. The risk of this condition is lowered by dividing the dog’s daily food ration.
Table Scraps and Other Dog Treats
Food management is a crucial factor in preventing dogs from becoming overweight. And, what better way is there to manage dogs’ food consumption than to limit giving them extra treats that are way on top of their regular meal.
Be reminded that not all food on the table is healthy and safe for pets. That’s why you must discipline your dog to not beg for whatever leftover food you are eating. After all, as the owner, you are more in control of your dog’s eating habits.
In the study titled “Dog Obesity: Owner Attitudes and Behavior” published in the Journal of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, households with obese or overweight dogs gave treats more significantly than households with healthy weight dogs.
The study concluded that the kind of food management enforced by household owners has a significant bearing on the overall health of their pets.
Ways to Limit Dog Treats
- Reduce Begging Opportunity: Dogs will keep on begging if they are allowed to do so. So, the best way to discourage dogs from asking for treats is not to eat in front of them and to keep them out while you’re preparing their meal.
- Replace Dog Treats with Attention: Instead of giving in to your dog’s plea for treats, you should get up and play games with them because aside from their love for treats, they also love receiving their owner’s attention.
- Feed Dog Treats on an Occasional Basis: Saying yes to dog treats on occasion is fine given that you closely monitor its calorie intake since most dog treats are high in calories.
- Choose Healthy Dog Treat Alternative: If your dog keeps on begging for treats and you can’t hold back from giving in, the best alternative that you can make is to give them healthy dog treats. Green beans, apple slices, and carrot sticks are some healthy dog treats that your dog will surely enjoy.
When Should You Feed Your Dog?
Establishing a regular feeding time is the best way to manage and prevent weight issues with your dog. Choose feeding times that suit your work schedule or home routine so that you’ll be able to stick to them. When it’s already time for you to feed your dog, you should only put food into the bowl for fifteen minutes.
Once the time set is over, pick up the food left in the bowl even if your dog hasn’t finished his meal yet and give it to him in the next scheduled mealtime. But tiny dogs and puppies are an exemption to the rule mentioned above since they need to eat more so that their growth is not hampered.
Also, they are more prone to experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, so they need more intake of protein and carbohydrates.
Sticking to a particular feeding routine proves to be beneficial for several reasons:
- Dogs will know precisely when its already their feeding time; thus, they will keep still until it is time for them to eat.
- Scheduled feeding will encourage dogs not to be picky. So, they will eat whatever food is put into their bowl, and this will help maintain their proper weight.
- If your dog is on a regular feeding schedule, you’ll notice right away if he’s losing his appetite or his appetite changes and the sooner you can get bring him to the vet clinic
What Kind of Food Should You Give Your Dog?
The pet food market is continuously producing a variety of food products that claim to not only palatable but are also nutritionally complete. Palatability is a food characteristic that mainly entices dogs to consume the food given to them.
This kind of promotional approach has given pet owners the assurance that whatever dog food they buy at the market is safe and nutritious for their dog. But, if dog owners are serious about keeping their pets healthy and active, they wouldn’t easily fall into this kind of marketing strategy.
So, given this wide variety of food choices available in the market that could be fed to dogs, how should dog owners know then if they are giving the right kind of food to their pet? Most importantly, what kind of food should they give to their dog?
A study titled “Pet Feeding Practices of Dog and Cat Owners in the United States and Australia” published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association claims that there appears to be increasing interest among veterinarians and pet owners concerning the use of non-commercial food over commercially-produced dog foods for their pets. Non-commercial foods include homemade and raw food diets.
Home-prepared meals are cited for various benefits which include control over the ingredients used, avoidance of artificial preservatives and harmful additives, and preservation of dogs’ natural enzymes. It must be noted, however, that home-cooked diet needs the supervision of a veterinarian so that the food you have prepared at home contains the proper nutrition needed by your dog.
A home-cooked diet requires a great deal of preparation on the part of the owner because the food to be prepared should not only be nutritious but should also be appealing to the dog’s palate. So, if you choose to feed your dog with home-cooked food, you should allocate enough time in your food preparation.
Several pet owners are feeding their dogs with raw foods such as raw meat and bones, vegetables, fruits, raw eggs, and all other uncooked food. Dogs fed with raw foods are claimed to have a shinier coat, healthier skin, and cleaner teeth. However, there are also claims that raw foods pose health risks to dogs since they can contain bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli – potential pathogens that could be fatal to a dog’s health.
What Foods Should You Avoid Giving Your Dog?
Here is a selection of the commonly available food in your home that should be kept away from your dog: Chocolate, Tea, Coffee (or anything with caffeine), Mushrooms, Alcoholic Drinks, Onions, Tobacco, Avocado, Meat Fats.
Just like people, dogs also need proper nutrition and an active lifestyle to boost their immune system and improve their life’s longevity. The kind of food fed to them has a direct impact on their overall health. So, the biggest responsibility dog owners have to their pets is to ensure that their food nutrition is not compromised. One certain way any pet owner can promote their pet’s quality of life is by providing only the best quality food they can because the best pet care practice starts from the best pet nutrition.
Arden, D. (2003). Nutritionally Sound. In P. Gambardella (Ed.), Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs (pp. 81-94). McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Rees, W.N., & Schlanger, K. (2004). Adding Home-Cooked Meals to Your Pet’s Diet. In The Natural Pet Food Cookbook. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Walton, David & W. Sylvia. (2015). 101 Essential Tips Dog Care. DK Publishing2A