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Feeding Guide: How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Feeding Guide: How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Owning a dog is a lot of fun and a wonderful experience. With that said, however, it also comes with a lot of responsibilities.

As a dog owner, it is your job to take care of your dog’s health. That means going on regular walks and seeing the vet regularly. However, it also means taking care of your pet’s nutritional needs.

One big question that people often have in this area is how much should I feed my dog? The answer to that question, however, depends on a variety of factors.

Feeding Very Young Puppies 

A lot of factors go into determining how much a dog should be fed. One of the most important factors by far, however, is the age of the dog.

Shih tzu walking

Very young puppies, meaning puppies that are younger than eight weeks old should absolutely not be separated from their mother’s and should eat primarily their mother’s breast milk.

Some breeders and pet store owners who are in a rush to earn money will try to separate dogs from their mothers much earlier. However, this is not a good idea, and you should not agree to take home a dog less than eight weeks old. If you do, there is a good chance that the dog will die.

Even if it survives, it may have a poor immune system and impaired health for the rest of its life.

With that said, it is okay for a puppy to eat some things in addition to its mother’s milk. Starting at around one month old, puppies can eat some solid food. The food should be diluted with water or the mother’s milk for easier digestion. However, its diet should still be mainly comprised of milk from its mother.

Feeding Older Puppies 

Dogs are considered puppies until they reach the age of one. However, throughout the first year of their lives, their nutritional needs and the amount of food they will need to eat per day will vary.

Golden retriever puppies eating

Generally, between the ages of six to eight weeks, even though puppies are still eating their mother’s milk, they should also be eating about three times per day. How much they will need to eat will vary depending on breed, weight and size.

After eight weeks old, puppies can eat about twice per day. The twice per day regimen can continue until the puppy is about six months of age. In fact, puppies can continue to be fed twice a day, though the amounts will gradually grow larger, until they are fully grown and into adulthood.

How Much Food Should a Dog Be Eating?

While it’s easy to know how many times per day to feed your dog, the big question is how much your dog should be eating. That really depends largely on its weight.

Dog chewing treat

Small dogs will generally need between 1/3 of a cup and 1/2 of a cup per feeding time.

Dogs between 10 and 20 pounds will typically need about 3/4 of a cup to 1 and 1/2 cups.

Dogs from 30 to 50 pounds need around 1 and 3/4 cups to 2 and 1/3 cup.

Finally, large dogs, ranging from 60 to 100 pounds will eat around 3 cups to a whopping 4 and 1/3 cups per feeding time.

The Importance of High Quality Dog Food

While the question people most often ask is how much should I feed my dog, it’s not, truly, the most important question. Instead, the most important question is what should you feed your dog?

Dog food

So many pet owners just go to the grocery store, buy the cheapest food they can find, and fill their dog’s bowl with it. However, it is important to realize that, just as is the case with people, the quality of the food matters in terms of the dog’s overall health, nutrition, and longevity.

The first thing you should do, as a responsible pet owner, is to thoroughly research any brands of food that you are thinking of feeding your furry friend. Make sure the food meets health and nutrition standards and provides your dog with the calories, protein, and basic nutrients that it needs to thrive and survive. Sometimes, this might mean choosing a more expensive bag of dog food, but isn’t the extra money worth your dog’s health?

You should also look carefully at the ingredients. Understand that whatever is listed first on the ingredients list is what the food contains the most of. Ideally, that first item on the ingredients list will be a lean protein, like chicken or fish. It’s bad news if the first item on the list is grains or animal byproducts.

After checking to ensure your dog’s food or potential food contains mostly a healthy ingredient, also look for any potentially harmful ingredients. Artificial preservatives have been shown to be particularly bad for pooches, so this is something you will want to avoid. Definitely say no to ingredients such as BHT, sodium nitrite, and BHA. Other no-nos include artificial colors or dyes.

It’s also a smart idea to know if your pet has any food allergies. Pets, just like people, can be allergic to many ingredients commonly found in pet food, so it’s not a bad idea to have your pet allergy tested at an early age. That way, you can avoid foods that contain any allergens that may cause harm to your pet.

Sometimes, however, food allergies develop over time. Thus, it’s also important to make yourself aware of the warning signs that your pet may have developed an allergy to something in its food. These warning signs can include:

  • Dry skin
  • Constant itching
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Diarrhea after eating
  • Continual licking
  • Paw biting

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, see your vet. You need to determine if a food allergy is present, what is causing it, and then take steps to eliminate it from your pet’s diet.

What to Do About Overweight Pets

Many pet owners laugh about how “pudgy” their dogs are. And, while a chubby dog may look cute, the fact remains that being overweight or obese is every bit as dangerous for dogs as it is for people.

Dog looking tired

So, what can you do if your precious pooch is packing on the pounds?

Well, the first step is actually realizing that your dog is overweight. Thankfully, if you are seeing a vet regularly, the vet will probably let you know this.

However, there are also some warning signs of being overweight that you can be on the lookout for.

These include:

  • Not being able to feel or find the dog’s ribs
  • Not being able to easily spot your dog’s waist
  • The dog lacks interest in walks or physical activity
  • Heavy breathing or difficulty with physical activity that was once normal

If you think that your dog may be overweight and/or if your vet confirms it, don’t worry. There are several things that you can do to get your pup back in fighting shape.

How to Help Your Dog Shed the Pounds 

First off, when you find out your pet is overweight, your vet may recommend special food designed to promote weight loss. You can go with your vet’s suggestion, but know that there are also weight loss foods for dogs available at just about any pet store. You still need to make sure the food is high quality, but a special weight loss formula, fed in the right amounts, can help your dog to get rid of extra poundage.

Couple and a dog, running

In general, though, if you look for foods that are lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein, your dog should be able to start losing weight. Some people even switch to a full meat diet for their pets. And, while there are mixed feelings on this option, from both pet owners and professionals alike, it might be worth looking into if your dog is struggling with weight.

Also, if you are not already doing so, weigh and portion out your dog’s food according to the guidelines mentioned above. Free feeding is one of the leading causes of overweight pups. By setting strict mealtimes and portioning out food, you can help your dog to achieve an ideal weight.

Remember, Dog Nutrition is Your Responsibility

We have given you a lot of good advice to answer the question of how much should I feed my dog? The main thing to remember above all else, however, is that your dog’s nutrition and health is your responsibility.

Your dog cannot go pick out its own food, nor can it feed itself. Thus, the responsibility lies completely on you. If you take this responsibility seriously, you should end up with a happy, healthy pup.



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