How Much To Feed
The first thing we need to address is this. It is physically impossible to have a picky, overweight dog. If your dog is overweight but you feel he is picky, he’s trying to tell you he’s full, but you are not listening. So, you put canned food or “people food” in his bowl to make the food enticing so he’ll eat. Essentially, he’s being force-fed. Conversely, just because your dog acts hungry, does not mean he needs more food. Dogs are very bright and they figure us out quickly. They know which behaviors will be rewarded in desirable ways. Often times, they simply want our attention.
When determining how much to feed, there is a good rule of thumb to follow. For an average adult who gets moderate daily activity, the rule is 1 cup for every 25 pounds of dog PER DAY. You can split that into as many meals a day as you’d like (most prefer and we recommend 2). Keep in mind, this applies to a good quality food. Some of your low quality foods like Purina, Beneful, Pedigree, etc. require that you feed more food because they are nutritionally lacking and are grain laden with very little animal protein. It is also of utmost importance to understand that you should be feeding the dog you SHOULD have, not the dog you do have. That means, if your dog is 65 pounds but should weigh 50, you should feed him as a 50 pound dog (2 cups a day).
Small dogs seem to present a bigger issue for pet owners as many owners can’t wrap their heads around the seemingly small quantity of food they should be feeding. Step back and really look at your 5 or 10 pound dog. Now imagine their stomach inside their tiny little body, competing with all the other organs and intestines for space. Their stomach is extremely small.
The most common complaint we hear from small dog owners is, “My dog is picky.” Nine times out of 10, the dog is simply being overfed and, therefore, has little interest in his food because he’s still full from the last meal. Typically, these dogs really love a new food for a day or 2 and then they lose interest. The reason this happens is because the food is new and different. It’s the same reason we can be full from dinner but will eat ourselves to misery if dessert is put in front of us. But, after a few days, the food is no longer new and the dog is unwilling to overeat anymore, making the owner think they are picky when, really, they’re just full. If fed the appropriate amount, the dog will likely continue to eat the food you’ve purchased.
Another problematic area is treats. Many owners do not factor treats into their pet’s daily food intake, which can be a huge mistake. If it helps, take a measuring cup and fill it with food and treats every morning until it is at the appropriate quantity for the day (1 cup per 25 lbs) and then feed and treat from the measuring cup until the end of the day.
Probably the most important part of feeding is to remember that these are only guidelines. The recommendations on the food bags are only guidelines. Your dog may need more or less food based on his individual metabolism, activity, and age. Watch his weight. It will tell you how much to feed.
Obesity Facts & Risks
- An estimated 54% or 93 million dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese
- An estimated 55.6% or 43 million US dogs are overweight or obese
- An estimated 54% or 50 million US cats are overweight or obese
- An estimated 21% or 36 million US pets are in the obese category
- 20% or 16 million US dogs are estimated to be obese
- 22% or 20 million US cats are estimated to be obese
- Primary Risks of Excess Weight in Pets
- Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart and Respiratory Disease
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
- Kidney Disease
- Many Forms of Cancer
- Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)
Click the links below to see Body Condition Scoring charts for dogs and cats to find out where your pet falls on the scale.