How Much Food Should You Feed Your Dog?
Despite what your dog’s pleading eyes may tell you, they don’t need that second breakfast (or second dinner)! You may be wondering if your dog wants a second meal due because they’re mischievous snackers or if they’re really still hungry?
It’s important to feed our furry BFFs the right amount of food — you don’t want them to go hungry! Of course, without them telling us explicitly, it can be a little tricky to determine if your dog is getting all of the yummy nutrients they need. No need to stress — PAWZ is here to help.
Our doggos need several vital components in their dog food to maintain their health and wellness. Those basic nutrients are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. Mix ‘em up, and you have a holistically healthy diet for your fur baby! But how much of each does your pup need in their diet?
When looking for dog foods, look for the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) accreditation to ensure that your dog’s food has met their guidelines for nutrition for pet foods. When it comes to the type of dog food, try to choose the best that you can afford so your fur baby gets the quality nutrients they need.
When it comes to your doggo, the amount of food they should receive every day is based on several factors. Their breed, size, and age can help you determine what you put in their bowl for mealtime. Let’s look at each of these categories to figure out what’s best for our best buddies.
Breed and Size
Do you feel like you can name a million breeds of dogs, but you couldn’t name a rabbit or cat breed if you tried? You aren’t alone. Your dog’s breed says so much about them, and feeding guidelines are no different.
Some breeds, like Labradors, can become a little chunky quite easily, so their food should be low in carbohydrates. German Shepards are also prone to tummy troubles, so they need food that is more easily digestible. Smaller breeds like dachshunds need foods that are lower in fat so they do not gain weight easily — as cute as a chubby dachshund might be, more weight can be hard on those low-riding, long-back puppers.
All of that is to say, you have your small puppers and your large doggos. The size of your dog is one of the most important factors when deciding how much food they need. Of course, smaller dogs will need less food than larger dogs.
When it comes to the amount of food, your best bet is to follow the feeding guidelines on the back of your dog food container. One important thing to consider is that for most feeding guidelines, the amount is for an entire day. If you feed your fur baby more than one meal a day, you would divide that amount by two.
Food by Weight
Knowing your dog’s weight is also key when figuring out portion sizes. On average, you’re looking at ¼ a cup of food for every ten lbs of weight. If your dog needs to trim down a little, follow the feeding guidelines for the weight you want your dog to be and not for the weight they are currently.
A sample dog feeding chart will look like this:
- 3 to 12 pounds: ⅓ to 1 cup
- 13 to 20 pounds: 1 to 1 ⅓ cup
- 21 to 35 pounds: 1 ⅓ to 2 cups
- 36 to 50 pounds: 2 to 2 ⅔ cups
- 51 to 75 pounds: 2 ⅔ to 3 ⅓ cups
Your own dog food chart may differ somewhat, and a puppy feeding chart will be different than a chart for an adult doggo.
Overall, your daily feeding schedule should be based on the number of calories in the food, activity levels, and your dogs’ breeds. Smaller dogs like Pomeranians or toy breeds need more calorie-dense food than larger dogs like mastiffs or even retrievers, so you would definitely see a difference in portion size or even the number of meals on those specific dog food types.
Your dog’s age also affects how many goodies you should give them every day. Let’s look at each of your dog’s life stages to see how each stage affects their feeding.
Puppies should be fed food that is specifically developed for puppies. These puppy foods have all the required nutrients that puppies need to develop into adults.
Their rapid amount of growth in such a short amount of time requires certain nutrients for strong bones, muscles, and a healthy immune system that aren't necessary for adult food. You want to make sure your puppy receives plenty of protein and enough fat to give them energy but not too much to cause weight gain.
When it comes to the amount of dog food, it will depend on if your dog is a small breed, medium breed, or large breed. Larger breeds have much more growing to do and may need an extra scoop to help their growth. Puppies also need to be fed more often, due to their tiny tummies. Usually, puppies are fed three to four times a day.
When it comes to the amount, knowing your puppy’s weight at maturity as well as their age will determine the amount of food they receive daily. Pay special attention to what the dog food guidelines call for, as well as any tips from your dog’s breeder or veterinarian. They will be the best consults on how much to feed your growing pupper.
As your puppy grows, carefully introduce new foods into your feeding routine. When making the transition to adult food, talk to your vet about recommendations for high-quality dog food and the amount you should add each day to safely make the switch. Just like in humans, healthy habits begin when your baby is still young.
When it comes to adult dogs, referring to the chart above is the best bet on determining the average amount of food your fur baby should receive daily. Of course, feeding amounts will depend on their size and the type of food you are feeding them. Wet dog food, dry kibble, and dog treats will all factor into your calculations differently.
Just like puppies, you may find that feeding your senior girl or senior boy specially designed food for their golden years can help with any health issues they may be facing.
Although we don’t want to think about it, our aging fur babies may have different nutritional needs than when they were younger. Your dog may not be as up and about as they once were, so their caloric demands may reduce and as a result, you may find that their portion sizes may decrease.
If your dog is losing weight, then adding on calories will help them gain weight and look more healthy. Your senior dog’s food may also need more protein in their diet to help with their muscle mass. Of course, your dog’s veterinarian would be the best place to ask for advice when it comes to addressing any dietary needs of your senior dog.
Kibble Size and Shape
Not only is the nutritional content in the food important, but also the kibble’s size and shape. Puppies and small dogs need smaller kibble, as large kibble can be hard to chew or be a choking hazard — yikes! Even if your puppy or small dog is able to chew through that mountain of kibble, they could damage their tooth. Ouch!
The shape of the kibble is also a consideration. There has been research on the effectiveness of kibble shapes for certain breeds.
One study looked into this and found that bulldogs can pick up kibble that is squiggle-shaped much easier than round-shaped kibble. This is because of their flat (but adorable!) faces.
Labradors, who we mentioned are prone to obesity, also benefit from a specific kibble shape. Bigger kibbles with a hole in the middle make eating more drawn out. This will slow down those lovable Labradors from inhaling their food like vacuum cleaners.
How Can I Ensure My Pup Gets the Right Amount of Food?
It is so easy to just tip the bag of dog food into your dog’s bowl and stop when it gets full. However, your dog may not get enough food or too much if their bowl is not the right size.
Keeping your dog’s weight at a healthy level is important to their overall health and wellness, so being proactive in their food intake is a great way to prevent any weight-related health issues from developing as they get older.
The easiest way to ensure that your dog is getting enough to eat is by making sure that the capacity of their bowl is appropriate. If you know your dog’s bowl can hold two cups of food, but your dog only needs one cup of food, you just fill their bowl halfway each time. Easy peasy!
However, if your dog has a favorite dish (or maybe you need a fancy slow-eater dish), keeping a measuring cup with their dog food bag makes for easy refilling. If you are a planner or meal prepper at heart, you can also meal prep your dog’s food for the week by measuring out what they need daily into individual baggies.
This can also be helpful when traveling, or if you feed your dog multiple times a day. It may be hard to keep up with the exact amount if your pup has breakfast and dinner, so you can just dispense from the pre-portioned bag.
PAWZ Loves Dogs
Here at PAWZ, we are big fans of dogs. Our dog-centric apparel keeps you stylish while showing off the love that you have for your pupper. We offer hoodies, crewnecks, and tees with fun dog sayings as well as our signature PAWZ pawprint.
Our weekly releases and best-selling collections keep you in theme with all of the seasons and holidays. We also offer accessories, like jewelry and dog bandanas to keep you and your fur baby feeling good and looking great.
The best part about PAWZ is our goal of saving all of the adorable animals. We donate 10% of our net profits to support local and national no-kill animal shelters and animal welfare organizations. We want all the puppers to find their furever homes with caring pet parents like you. Every purchase you make helps us get closer and closer to this goal.
We partner with Best Friends Animal Society to raise awareness and support shelter dogs all across the nation. Best Friends works with shelters on innovative and inspiring techniques to bring their shelters to no-kill status.
You can share in our vision and help us reach more dogs in need while looking great in PAWZ apparel. It’s simple: PAWZ keeps you stylish, and you’re helping Best Friends make our country no-kill for shelter pets.
Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount? | PetMD
Know Your Pet's Nutritional Needs | VCA Animal Hospitals