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Dog obesity is becoming an epidemic in our country, while at the same time, several dogs are facing malnourishment. Both of these issues can be prevented by feeding our dogs the right amount of food. Even if you pick a top rated dog food, if you over or under feed your dog, they will not receive all the nutritional benefits and may end up with some serious health problems. How much you feed your dog depends on numerous factors including the breed, their weight, their age, and their activity level. Here is our guide on how much to feed your dog:
Health Problems From Overfeeding
First, before determining how much to feed your dog, you need to understand the health problems associated with overfeeding your dog. If you overfeed your dog, they will become obese, less active, and will be at risk for:
- Joint issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
These are some very serious illnesses so it is crucial that you do not overfeed your dog if you want them to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Health Problems From Underfeeding
The other concern when feeding is underfeeding. If you underfeed your dog they will become malnourished and will be at risk for:
- Congestive heart failure
- Liver and kidney failure
- Immune deficiency
How To Determine If Your Dog Is At A Healthy Weight
Before you being a feeding regimen, you need to determine if your dog is at a healthy weight. To determine if you dog is at a healthy weight start by feeling their ribs and hips. You should be able to feel both the ribs and the hips of your dog easily but there should be a soft, thin layer of fat over them. Next look at your dog from the downward angle and from the side. When you look down on your dog, your dog should have a slight hourglass shape. When you look at your dog from the side, their stomach should not hang below their chest. If your dog is underweight you will not feel any fat on their bodies and they will have an excessively bony appearance. If you dog is overweight, you’ll have a harder time feeling the ribs, they will not have an hourglass shape, and their stomach will hang below their chest.
Feeding Your Dog
So the best place to determine how much food to feed your dog is with the feeding instructions on their food. All top rated dog foods have a feeding panel that recommends amounts based on dog weight. These instructions are typically for a 24 hour period, not per feeding. If you are feeding your dog a raw foods diet or if your dog food does not have a feeding panel you can estimate the amount of food your dog needs based on the recommended caloric intake. Calories are listed as KCal on the nutrition panel. Here is a basic rundown of recommended calories based on weight:
If you want to get very scientific, you can also calculate their calorie needs by factoring resting energy requirements of 70 calories and their weight (W) to the ¾ power. So 70(W)^¾=KCal.
Factors In Adjusting Their Caloric Intake
The basic caloric requirements change depending on several factors. The first is the age of your dog. Puppies require a lot of energy and more nutrition than full grown dogs, so you need to feed them more calories and more frequently than grown dogs. Senior dogs required less energy, so you need to reduce their caloric intake as their activity and bodily functions decrease. During these two stages of life, a great way to know how much to feed them is to switch to an age-specific formula like a puppy or senior food.
Another factor in how much to feed your dog is their level of activity. Active dogs, working dogs, and outdoor dogs, need a higher caloric intake than indoor dogs. On average you will feed active dogs about 20% more calories than dogs with a less active lifestyle.
Finally, the amount you feed your dog depends on their weight management goals. If your dog is overweight, you will feed them an average of 10-25% less calories every day until they reach a healthy weight. If your dog is underweight, you will increase the calories. However in both situations there are numerous health risks, so you need to contact your veterinarian to make sure your dog’s weight problems are a result of feeding and not a larger issue. Your veterinarian will also help you put together a feeding plan that will help get your dog back to a healthy weight.
Once you know how much to feed your dog, you need to put them on a regular feeding schedule. Adult and senior dogs should eat twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Puppies should be fed four times a day at regular intervals to keep up their energy and help their development.
If you follow these basic guidelines on how much to feed your dog, your dog will stay at a healthy weight and live a happy healthy life. Make sure that no matter what feeding schedule your dog is on, that you research the type of food you are feeding them to ensure you are feeding them a top rated dog food with a complete nutritional profile.