The first thing any new pet parent will get for their pup is a good brand of dog food - but finding healthy dog treats and healthy dog food is one thing, and deciding how much to actually feed your dog is another. Why exactly is it important to feed your pup the right amount of holistic dog food? How much should a dog eat? How much should a puppy eat?
Too much, or too little
Finding the right balance of food to feed can be difficult but the consequences of feeding too much or too little can be far-reaching. When you feed your dog too little or if they’re eating less due to a loss in appetite, they’re likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies, and malnutrition in serious cases. As a result, they lose a lot of muscle mass and body fat right away, affecting their body’s ability to combat dangerous diseases.
Here are some of the telltale signs of malnutrition:
- Spine, ribs and bones visible, even from a distance
- Fur becomes scruffy
- Skin becomes dry, and your dog may have dandruff
- Feces may be extremely runny or extremely hard
- Dog may vomit bile
- Low general energy level
- Very susceptible to illness
Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum, feeding your dog too much food can result in equally bad outcomes. In fact, obesity in dogs can generally result in a poorer quality of life and even a shorter lifespan due to a wide range of potential health issues and joint issues related to your dog’s weight.
In fact, overweight dogs are at a higher risk for:
- Oral diseases
- Some types of Cancer
These diseases not only affect your dog’s lifestyle significantly, it also greatly affects their happiness as musculoskeletal health issues like osteoarthritis, or ligament ruptures can affect their ability to move around, play and have fun.
Figuring out the appropriate amount
Commercial Dog Food
Commercial dog food like Fromm Family’s selection of dog foods are well balanced nutrition wise, ensuring that you don’t have to personally measure the amount of calcium or nutrients your dog is getting. However, it’s still important to decide on the right quantity of food to feed.
With how important it is for your dog to eat the right amount, dog food brands tend to hedge their bets by putting a very rough feeding amount recommendation of around ½ to 1½ cups per day on their packaging. While these recommendations are generally accurate, it’s a much better practice to tailor the amount to your dog’s individual needs - depending on the type of lifestyle your dog has, their general size, and health requirements.
In general, it’s good to talk this out with your veterinarian or a nutritionist. Of course, as your dog grows and their requirements change - it can be difficult to consistently consult a professional. But a dog food nutritionist will have the expertise to recommend exactly the appropriate quantity of dog food, which is a more accurate guideline compared to the generic recommendations on the back of your pet food bag.
For more control over the exact amount of food to feed your dog, PetKit’s smart feeders are also good feeding accessories as they help to weigh the exact quantity of food to feed your dog based on their weight and diet type.
If you’re trying to figure out how much to feed your dog on your own, you could multiply 1% of their body weight by 2.5 to get the approximate amount of food your dog would require - it still, however, does depend on your dog’s activity levels and diet type.
Dogs should ideally be fed twice a day to help you have more control over their food portioning, but it’s important to note that the amount suggested above is calculated for a single day - so if you’re planning to feed your dog twice a day, divide the amount by two.
Your dog’s activity level also plays a huge role in determining his food consumption! If your dog is on sedentary side, you could feed them less - perhaps 2.2 - 2.5% of their body weight per day. You could also stick to the approximate amount you calculated earlier, but feed them leaner meals and low calorie dog food with more white meat proteins like chicken or fish, over fatty red meats.
Of course, more active dogs can afford to be fed a little bit more - around 3% of their body weight. Again, they could also be fed the same quantity as calculated previously, but it should be based on high protein dog food with a focus on more fatty meats. For this, high-protein dog foods like Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dinner Patties can be a tasty and nutritious option for active dogs.
Homemade Dog Food
Outside of commercially available dog food, how much homemade dog food should you feed your dog? Unlike commercial food, designing your dog’s home cooked dog food requires much more calculation and time on your end - especially if you’re a raw feeder.
For one, adult dogs need around 800 to 1000 mg of calcium per pound of food in general. It’s also important to manage the amount of phosphorus in your dog’s diet, especially if your dog’s diet consists of a lot of meat. In fact, it’s recommended for your dog’s diet to have a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. As a general rule of thumb, an appropriate quantity of homemade dog food is similar to commercial food - ranging from 2 to 3 percent of your dog’s body weight.
Of course, with homemade dog food, it’s difficult to decide on a final quantity especially since variety is of utmost important, hence a lot of adjustment is needed. But try not to adjust their quantity more or less than 10% at a single time.
Puppies and senior dogs have vastly different dietary requirements and it’s important their diet to be adjusted accordingly overtime as they grow. In general, senior dogs have a smaller appetite and are a lot less active than puppies. One way to maintain their regular intake of food is to feed them more frequently with smaller meals throughout the day.
For pickier dogs, a dose of bone broth can help enhance the palatability of their food tastier while also boosting their immune system, brain and heart health as well as their skin and coat health. Of course, since older dogs tend to be less active and have a slower metabolism, it is beneficial to stick to lower-calorie diets, and feed them a little less than the recommended amount above. However, the type of nutrients they need will change, so it’s important to take into account what your dog specifically needs.
For puppies, it’s entirely a different story. How much food should a 4 month puppy eat? How often do you feed a puppy? Once your puppy gets to around 4 months of age, they should be roughly weaned off milk and transitioned gradually to solid foods, in which case they should be fed three to four times a day. A general recommendation is to feed them around ½ cup of puppy food three times a day. Smaller meals are much easier to digest for your puppy, and ensures your puppy has sufficient energy to play the whole day.
At around six months of age, your puppy can now be fed twice a day at about 3 quarters of a cup per feeding. But larger breeds of dogs take longer to mature, so sticking to a 3-4 times a day feeding schedule helps reduce the risk of gastric issues.
Food gives your dog essential nutrients that power your dog’s energy levels, while boosting their immune system. The right amount of food will help your dog live a happy and healthy life, with enough energy to play and enjoy their life.