One of the most common questions a dog owner often asks is “How much should I feed my dog?” There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question since how much food to give to your dog depends on a variety of factors such as age, breed, metabolism, activity level, and weight.
Most dog owners simply read the suggested guidelines on the side of the packaging of their dog food. Although this may seem like the best option to go with, you must ask yourself this question “where is this information coming from?” That’s right it’s coming from the same people who want you to buy more of their dog food. I’m not suggesting that these guidelines are stated with an ulterior motive from the manufacturers, but as a dog owner you must be more careful. These guidelines are based on a range of weights such as 20-40 lbs and don’t take into account your dog’s activity level, or any of the other factors mentioned earlier. These are simply guidelines that should only be used as rough estimates to figure out what is the best amount for your beloved dog.
What do we suggest? We suggest starting on the low end of the suggested values stated on the side of your dog food package. Then monitor the following and adjust accordingly:
- Hunger of your dog- You must see how your dog is responding to the amount of food given. If you notice he/she is constantly whimpering or you hear a growling stomach you want to increase by a reasonable amount. A word of caution however, remember that a dog’s hunger just like humans will vary day to day so look for consistent hunger pattern if you are to increase the amount of food.
- Weight of your dog- According to Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD the author of Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily when you slide your hands over his or her sides. If you can’t feel them easily then your dog may weight too much and you may want to decrease the amount of food you give.
- Activity of your dog– Dogs burn calories through exercise just as we humans do. Thus it is important to watch the activity level of your dog, and see observe if he/she is able to maintain that same activity level on his/her current diet without getting tired or crashing. If your dog is unable to maintain that activity level, you may want to increase the amount of food. Every dog’s metabolism is different but if you adjust accordingly until you find a balance between lifestyle and diet, your dog will be much happier and healthier.
- Age of your dog- When it comes to age, generally younger dogs have a faster metabolism and are generally more active than older dogs. Thus these younger dogs require more caloric intake than their older counterparts. Adult dogs (1 year of age minimum) usually require the same amount of food until they reach senior age (10 years of age or more). Remember as your dog ages activity level may be reduced, in which case you must reduce the amount of food to avoid weight gain.
Remember there is no set way of determining how much food to give to your dog, but if you use these suggestions to the best of your ability you will be able to give your dog just the right amount of food making your dog that much happier and healthier.