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How much should I feed my dog?

Emma Gibson

With the Texas heat rising, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep them at a healthy weight!  With temperatures set to soar any day now in Texas a lean healthy dog will be far more comfortable!  In the absence of any serious medical conditions, feeding the right amount is key to keeping your dog in good shape.  But we're asked the question a lot - how much should I feed my dog?  The answer is - start with the guidelines on the packaging of your food, but bear in mind they are just that - GUIDELINES!  When reading the feeding guidelines, it's also important to feed your dog according to the weight they SHOULD be - If you know your dog is a little chunky, feed according to the weight they should be.  So if your dog weighs 60lbs but you know either from research or feedback from your vet that he needs to lose 10lbs, feed him according to guidelines for a 50lb dog.

For Puppies - If you are feeding an AAFCO Balanced food for All Life Stages (which you MUST for puppies) then feed according to their anticipated adult weight.

If you're switching from dry kibble to pre-made raw or cooked food for your dog the portions WILL be smaller, as these diets are free from unnecessary fillers that are there to bulk out the food and fill up your dog.   Most dogs are perfectly happy with their portions, but some dogs as we well know are bottomless pits that would literally eat until they could eat no more!  Don't let your dog fool you into giving him more food, if he is at the right weight and his energy levels are good then he's eaten enough!  If you want to add some fresh food without the calories read the suggestions here.

When you start your dog on a whole fresh food diet such as Bella Goodlife Ciao Bella Burgers, you can expect to see your dog "lean out" over the first few weeks.  It's very common for dogs to quickly lose the bloated feel they get from kibble.  This is due to the fillers and carbohydrates present in large amounts in kibble and also because it is completely dry dogs require a LOT of water to digest it.

Some dogs eat significantly less than the recommended guidelines, either because they are old, inactive or put on weight very easily.   If you need to reduce your dog's intake to manage weight that's ok, do it gradually each day until you've reduced by up to 25%, keep at the same portion size until your dog reaches his ideal weight, then you can assess if he will maintain at that or need a little increase in food.  More often than not the reduced portion size turns out to be the right amount for the dog.

Other dogs, especially larger active breeds need fed more than the recommended guidelines to maintain the right weight.  Again, start with the guidelines and increase by up to 25% in volume until you think you're feeding the right amount.  Again you can add fresh food items high in calories as suggested here to help your dog gain weight.

But what is the right weight?  Certain breeds are obviously leaner and others are more stocky.  But no matter what, your dog MUST HAVE A WAIST!!  When you look at them for above and the side they should have a visible abdomen tuck underneath and tapered waist from above.  If you can see the last rib that doesn't necessarily mean your dog is too thin, don't be alarmed at feeling ribs easily, if you can't feel the ribs then your dog is overweight!

 

Always bear in mind that leaner is healthier for dogs and far too often dogs in the US are obese.  And we're far too used to accepting that and seeing fat dogs as cute and cuddly.  Remember it's 100% each and every owner's responsibility to keep your dog at the right weight!  If you'd like to read the research proving overweight dogs are far more prone to disease and a shorter lifespan, there are plenty studies from the American Veterinary Medical Association available here.

Treat your dogs weight like your own, look in the mirror and be honest!  If in doubt your vet can help you determine the best and healthiest weight for your dog.


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