Dog Feeding Guides
How much to feed your pet
Once you have chosen the type of food you would like to feed your pet, you then need to figure out how much to feed them, depending on variables such as:
- Activity level
Be sure to check the back of the packaging of your particular choice of brand for a general guide to get you started.
- Identify your pet’s weight bracket. Everyone should get their pet weighed regularly as a routine part of pet care, so you should know what weight your pet is. If you don’t already know, weigh them at home yourself (holding them while you stand on bathroom scales, then weighing yourself afterwards, and working out the difference), or take them to your local vet to get them weighed on properly calibrated electronic scales.
- You should also carry out a Body Condition Score in your pet: you can find out how in this video. This will allow you to understand if your pet is at their healthy weight, or if they are underweight or overweight/obese. Your local vet clinic will also help you make this assessment if you ask them.
- Read the broad recommendations on the pack of food for your pet, based on their weight bracket and body condition score. If a puppy, follow the guide for their age bracket too.
Once you have completed these initial steps, you can move on to working out precisely how much food to feed every day.
Working out the right daily amount to feed
- Read the recommendation on the packet for your dog’s age, type, and weight range.
- Weigh out an amount of food that’s in the mid-range of the recommendation on the label.
- Use a measuring cup (e.g. an empty yoghurt container, or a coffee mug): anything that you can keep handy for the purpose beside where you keep your pet’s food.
- Make a note of where the correct amount of food reaches in your measuring cup (e.g. draw a line using a permanent felt tip marker). Now you have an easy way of giving your pet the correct recommended amount of food every day.
Monitoring the response of your pet
You should monitor your pet, and you may need to give more or less than this recommended amount, depending on their response.
- First, do they seem happy when they have finished eating their meal? If they are chasing the empty bowl around the floor, licking it clean, then this may suggest that they need a bigger portion.
- Second, weigh them once a month: for adults, if they have gained weight, reduce the amount you are feeding daily by 10% or so. If they have lost weight, increase the amount you are feeding by 10%. This is the most important principle for preventing obesity in pets: continual regular monitoring of your pet’s weight, so that you can control weight gain before it becomes excessive.
- Third, repeat the Body Condition Score assessment once a month. This will give you back-up evidence to support your aim of keeping them at their optimal body weight.
Puppy Feeding Guide
Puppies need plenty of nutrition and it is rare for them to become obese, so within reason, you should feed them as much food as they want. This means that with each meal, they should finish their dinner and walk away seeming contented. If they leave uneaten food in the bowl, then they need a little less the next time. If they are chasing the empty bowl, looking for more, then they probably need more. You should adjust the amount you are feeding accordingly. You should also weigh them every 2 – 4 weeks to ensure that they are gaining weight appropriately.
Adult Dog Feeding Guide
Adult dogs are prone to becoming overweight or obese (around two-thirds of pets in Ireland fit this description) so it is important not to allow this to happen by accidentally feeding too much. Again, you should learn to assess your pet’s body condition by watching this video for dogs.
- Start by feeding the mid-range quantity of food to your pet every day, and weigh them every 2 – 4 weeks.
- If they start to put on weight, with their body condition score going too high, then give them a little less.
- If their body condition score is falling too low, and they are too lean, then give them a little more.
- Use your measuring cup, with a marker, to make sure you are feeding the same amount every day.
- It’s fine to give extra treats (e.g. as reward for training) but keep these to a maximum of 10% of the daily food offering.
See below for examples of feeding guides for pets, from the labels of Petfix Club’s own brand dog food:
Small Dog Adult Feeding Guide
Regular Dog Adult Feeding Guide
Senior Dog Feeding Guide
To learn more, listen to our Podcast on How to Read and Understand Pet Food Labels