How Often and How Much to Feed a Dog – Feeding Guidelines and Advice

Feeding a dog is a very tough and scary task that any inexperienced/new owner has to face. Nutrition is the very essence that keeps your dog living a fulfilling and healthy life. But, we need to know exactly how much food to feed the dog, is the food high quality, and how many times to feed the dog in a day.

These three factors are very important, they encompass a really broad range of health factors.

how often and how much to feed a dog
How often and how much to feed a dog

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Overfeeding a dog can cause malnutrition and underfeeding the dog will result in the same, malnutrition. 

A general rule of thumb is to feed the dog twice a day. But, are you confident about feeding it now? Is that all there is in feeding a dog?

No! An inexperienced owner must follow strict rules and guidelines given by a vet, or the labeling on the food canisters/packaging.

Why is the correct proportioning of food very important?

Is there any perfect guide or method to feed your dog? No! There isn’t. Not one dog is alike, and not every size or breed can determine the amount of food they will need exactly. Dog’s diets are vastly affected by a large and sometimes unknown number of variables. 

These can range from the simplest physical factors like how much your dog weighs on average to all the other dogs of the same species and for its age? What kinds of health problems cause it to avoid particular food or quantity of food? 

The mental behavior of a dog is like when if you let it eat, how much will it keep eating? Does it prefer a specific type of kibble over another? Is it not feeling it to eat most times? These factors can lead to a specific restricted diet that the dog can get neither over nor under-eat. Portions are super crucial for this matter. Or else health issues arise, and very early deaths of your dogs can be expected.

Feeding According To The Weight 

Dog’s weight can be a major factor that can affect the proportion of the food it consumes. Obese dogs need less food per meal. While thin and boney dogs need a bit more food than most dogs. Keeping track of its weight is a must. By weighing it or by looking at its physical nature based on its breed size, age can be very beneficial. Always take a vet’s recommendation before proceeding.

And labels on the food packaging should help out in the proportions that you need to keep. Water content on the food is also a significant factor in the weight the dog exhibits, so be wary.

For example, moisture in dog food determines how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates there are in the food. 

Types of dog food also factor in how much water it contains. 

Dry dog food only has around 5 to 10 percent moisture in it. Semi-dry/semi-moist or normal in between dog foods have 15 to 30 percent water in them. Wet dog food has a whopping 70 to 80 percent water content in it. 

The wet dog food is not for dogs who are gaining weight fast. Semi-wet dog food and dry should be considered for those dogs. 

The dog’s condition also has to be considered if it can consume dry dog food or not, any gastric or intestinal diseases.

 All of these factors need to be checked by veterinarians before you proceed any further. 

Activity And Behavior

Dogs are just like humans in the fact that some are lazy, others are skittish and full of energy. Breeds often contain similar traits about similar behavior. For example, a Retriever might be active, while a Pug or German Shepard can show laziness. But this is often on an individual basis. 

A lazy dog needs to burn more calories and, in turn, needs to use up the unused energy from the food.

While an active and uppity dog that loves to go on walks and exercise needs a lot more food portions to keep them going throughout the day.

How much food do lazy dogs need?

That’s not a simple answer to give. A dog might have various ailments that are affecting its activity. They might be aged and sleep most of the day, but that does not mean you can feed them less food based on intuition. 

It’s always best to take a step back, and let the professionals handle it, get advice and proper check-up from a vet. Let them decide the portion size, amount, and scheduling for the dog’s food.

Every dog food packet has some sort of nutrition facts. That includes Calories, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. They also include the measured weight of cups that correspond to different sizes and ages of dogs. Often also recommending other methods of portioning per meal. They are usually based on the adult stages of the dogs, and some also include all the growth stages. 

But the exact portioning is not always fit for the dog you own. Because these portions are calculated by collecting the data over a large range of dog breeds and sizes. Your dog can need a bit more or a bit less, depending on his physical state.

So, a portion size on the packaging might not always be the correct amount for your dog. Often consulting the vet can be a full-proof way to keep it simple.

Nature Of The Food

There are different properties of different dog foods that fit in separate categories. 

The two main types are wet dog food and dry dog food. Wet Dog food refers to containing watery solutions or liquids based on water with the food. These are contained in tin cans for obvious reasons, and wet dog food comes in various packages and cans alike.

Wet dog food contains water/ more water per gram of meal of dog food. Unlike dry food, this often benefits having fewer calories, being concentrated forms of carbohydrate, protein, and calories. 

There are raw forms of meals that can be bought or made at home. These can be bones, flesh, small quantities of vegetables given as a raw diet for the dog.

This type of feeding has to be estimated by your intuition and observations. As dogs need to have a balanced diet and overfeeding or underfeeding can be wrong as always. So, the best method is to track its calorie count, weigh the dog often. Take caution and consult your vet to decrease your chances of harming the dog. Giving the wrong type of food, which can affect its health negatively and worsen its conditions, can be lethal in some cases.

Breed sizes

Breed sizes are an important factor in portioning a meal for dogs. This has to do with the larger and the smaller breeds.

Larger breeds often eat larger meals throughout their lives and often require one less meal than smaller breeds but with twice the amount of food portioned.

Small dog breeds feed on smaller portions than larger dogs, as they need less energy to move around than larger dogs. Larger dogs, on average, eat more food but have less energy than smaller dogs. Larger bodies need a lot more to metabolize and help them sustain their functionality, but smaller dogs have a lot of extra energy as they don’t need to expand as much to live. 

Portions also depend if the larger breed is extremely active, like the Terrier, Border collies, and such. They will need more food as they often expend too much energy throughout the day.

If you have multiple dogs, keep this information in mind and don’t give them an equal amount of food not to overfeed and underfeed them.

Scheduling Meals

Scheduling dog meals in a day is crucial, keeping the caloric intake balanced with how much energy they expend proportionally. Adult dogs need to be fed twice a day (smaller or larger breed. )

  • 7: 00 am breakfast.
  • 6: 00 pm dinner.

More active breeds of adult dogs need to be fed three times a day.

  • 7: 00 am breakfast.
  • 12: 00 pm noon.
  • And 6: 00 pm dinner.

The schedule for puppies is very different because puppies are building their bodies with nutrients at their stage. Therefore, they need small amounts of food intermittently all day long. 

  • 7: 00 am breakfast.
  • 12: 00 pm noon.
  • And 6: 00 pm dinner.

Senior dogs need more water in their diets and a bit less food proportionally than adult dogs. 

  • 7: 00 am breakfast.
  • 6: 00 pm dinner.

Feeding dogs water has to be done periodically, throughout the day too. Dogs need water four times a day.

  • Half a bowl of water in the morning with their breakfast.
  • Rinse, clean the water and add half a bowl of water at noon.
  • Rinse, clean the water and add half a bowl of water at dinner time.
  • Rinse, clean the water and add 1/4th bowl of water at bedtime.

For an adult dog, this is standard, but for puppies, the bowl needs to be smaller proportionally. While senior dogs need more water per bowl, their bodies dehydrate fast and need a constant supply of water.

Puppies 

Puppies are in the most crucial development stage of the life of a dog. How it’s fed and nurtured will have a definite impact on its life later on. And some diseases and issues can be avoided by feeding them properly and in time. 

6 to 12 Weeks of Age

At this age, the puppies are very frail and can’t eat dry food properly. So wet food that has very small pieces in it should be fed. They need the most nutrients at this age to help their development. Specially made food should be given to puppies, and adult dog food should be avoided. Adult dog food has less nutritional value and causes them to get underdeveloped. They are required to be fed four times throughout the day in small quantities. Get some advice from vets, preferably.

3 to 6 Months of Age

The food should be wet dog food and portioned at three times a day. Again, in small quantities as before if it’s still frail.

6 to 12 Months

Start by reducing the meals two times a day. Dry food can be introduced without the full nutrients-based puppy food. Smaller breeds take a longer time. Keep puppy food on for a bit if you are not too sure. Consult a vet just to be sure.

Adult Dogs

Give them half portions of every meal twice a day. And adult food is recommended with a wet and dry mix for the best results. Sometimes feeding one time is still good if you end up busy at work. But best to schedule accordingly.

Senior Dogs

Twice a day. They need supplements, anti-oxidants, and nutrition to keep them going. Dogs this age often have many physical issues to deal with, so be selective about the food. Wet food is better since they might have a harder time chewing.

Feeding Amount Instructions

The amount of servings per meal differs per dog’s age, weight, and depending on the food product. 

They are often measured by standard water cup sizes and volume of around 100 grams.

Dry foods include:

Few products such as Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula are for puppies of large size and give their feeding instruction in a very clear way. 

Weight at Maturity (lbs.)1 and 1/2 – 3 Months (Cups)4 – 5 Months (Cups)6 – 8 Months (Cups)9 – 11 Months (Cups)
UP TO 501/2 – 1 and 1/41 and 3/4 – 2 1/31 and 1/4 – 22 and 1/4 – 2 1/2
UP TO 752/3 – 21 and 3/4 – 3 1/31 and 1/2 – 3 1/42 and 3/4 – 4
UP TO 1001 – 2 and 1/42 and 1/4 – 3 1/43 and 1/3 – 5 1/34 and 1/2 – 5 3/4
UP TO 1302 and 1/4 – 3 1/33 and 1/4 – 4 1/35 and 1/3 – 6 1/25 and of  3/4 – 7

They include information for reproducing dogs and also other crucial information that you can use to give your dog special attention. As well as transition period instruction to give dogs some time to change their diet to the new food.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free is for adults, and the feeding instructions are as follows.

WeightDaily Feeding for Adult Dogs (cups)
3-5 LBS1/3 – 1/2
5-10 LBS1/2 – 3/4
10-20 LBS3/4 – 1 and 1/2
20-30 LBS1 and 1/2 – 2
30-40 LBS2 – 2 and 1/3
40-60 LBS2 and 1/3 – 3
60-80 LBS3 – 3 and 3/4
80-100 LBS3 and 3/4 – 4 and 1/3
100-125 LBS4 and 1/3 – 5
125-150 LBS5 – 5 and 3/4
150-175 LBS5 and 3/4 – 6 and 1/2

For senior dogs Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Adult Formula

WeightDaily Feeding (Cups)
3 – 12 LBS1/3 – 1
13 – 20 LBS1 – 1 and 1/2
21 – 35 LBS1 and 1/2 – 2 and 1/4
36 – 50 LBS2 and 1/4 – 3
51 – 75 LBS3 – 4
76 – 100 LBS4 – 5
OVER 100 LBS5 plus 1/4 for every 10 lbs. of body weight over 100 lbs.

In Conclusion

It’s pretty complex to feed a dog. But with enough information and proper procedure, it should be a simple matter. Always be on the side of caution and always take advice from the vets. Feed your dogs with compatible food; always be mindful of your dogs’ physical and mental health before feeding them. 

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