August 20 2019

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Good nutrition for dogs is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.  The type of food we select for them as well as how much they eat can have a good or bad impact on their health. 

How much should I feed my dog?

The reason it is so important to feed your dog the right amount of food is for their overall energy, strength, and health.  Organs, joints, muscles, bones and other parts of the body can be affected by a lack of or too much food.

Heart problems, weakened joints and bones, respiratory issues and lack of muscle strength are some of the physical ailments that can develop in your dog if they are fed too little or too much.

Behavioral issues such as territorial and aggressive behaviors can present themselves in dogs who get too little daily food.  They can also develop canine bloat if they aren’t fed enough and are ravenous at a meal. 

If a pooch is fed too much, they can develop a couch potato syndrome in a short period of time creating obesity which in turn will affect their overall physical health. This is a negative cycle because the more weight they gain they less they will want to move.

What determines how much dog food I should feed my dog?

  • Type of dog food
  • Ingredients in the dog food and calories
  • Age of dog
  • Activity level of dog
  • Dog Size
  • Metabolic Rate

 

dog food ingredients small

What type of dog food is best?

There is no dog food that is best for all dogs.  Each dog has their own genetic makeup and has unique needs.  Certain dogs may have allergies or other sensitivities, some dogs might have other health issues that require a special diet.

For active dogs they should have a protein content of 28% and over when you are feeding them dry dog food.  If you are feeding them wet dog food, then it should be 7% and over to meet their overall energy needs.  The amount of fat content that is required in their diet is 20% and over for dry food and 5% and over for wet food.  If they don’t get enough of these two key ingredients, the highly active dog can quickly develop health issues regarding muscles, joints, bones and other parts of their bodies.

While dogs are able to metabolize carbohydrates and use them for energy many people choose to limit the amount of this macro nutrient and some even go for a total gluten free diet.

  • Check the ingredient list, look for natural ingredients and no byproducts
  • Check the Guaranteed Analysis.  This will list the food’s nutrient content and by government regulation must include the minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat and maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture.
  • Check for the nutritional adequacy statement, it will be a statement that contains “complete and balanced” and the food must meet established nutrient minimums for that stage. For example “complete and balanced for adult maintenance” must meet the minimum nutrient profile for adult dogs to maintain health.
  • Check for feeding instructions and calorie content.  This will give you an idea of how much of this particular food is required on a daily basis based on the breed, age, activity level and other metrics listed in this article.

    Prior to making any dietary changes you should begin by consulting your dog’s veterinarian first to determine what is best for their overall health. 

    Are there particular ingredients I should look for in my dog’s food to keep them healthy?

    As stated above the protein and fat content are very important in any dog’s diet, but even more so in a very active pooches’ diet.

    The dog food shouldn’t have too many additives, preservatives and other unnecessary stuff that will take away from the overall nutritional value for your fur baby.  Reading the back of the package and ensuring that it has simple ingredients that are easily understood is best.

    How does the age of my dog affect how much food they eat?

    Puppies need proportionally more food than adult dogs do, and they need to eat more often because their digestive systems are smaller and growing and developing.

    puppy eating dog food

    Active older dogs may not be able to tolerate a lot of food at any one given time.  Sensitivities, health and digestive issues can also affect how they eat as well as how they perform, even if they are highly active.  Sometimes changing their feeding schedule might be necessary.  Of course, it is important to speak with your vet before you make any changes to your dog’s feeding schedule.

    Does the type of exercise they do in a day factor into how much food they eat?

    The type of exercise they do in a day isn’t as important as how much exercise they get.  If they are catching a frisbee or running around the yard it is all still exercise that requires fuel for their bodies.

    In the guide below you will see these active dogs have higher dietary needs.  If you find that your dog is getting more exercise or is considered an athlete more food will be necessary.

    There are dog foods on the market that contain higher protein and fat content for what might considered a high-endurance dog.  You can also just add more protein and fat into their diet by offering more meat and putting a teaspoon of olive oil into their food at each meal.

    This can naturally give them the added protein and fat that they may need.  This is also great if on some days you and your pooch will be extra active.  Perhaps they will be going on a long run with you or running beside your bicycle for a long trip, added to the usual activities your dog already does.  By adding this to their food the day before or that day can ensure that they have enough fuel for the trip.

    dog jogging with man and woman

    Looking for a fun activity to get more exercise with your dog?  How about Jogging?

    How often should I feed my dog?

    It is usually recommended to feed a dog twice a day.  Take the amount of food you would feed them and simply divide it in half, once in the morning and once in the evening.  For those who have a puppy under the age of 6 months, it is best to feed them 3-4 times a day.  Older dogs may benefit from this as well depending on their health situation.

    Consulting with your dog’s veterinarian is always best to determine your dog’s dietary needs.

    What about table scraps, treats and other food extras?

    dog food dog eating table scraps small

    While we all feed our dog a table scrap, piece of our hamburger or treat from time to time they aren’t meant to be a large part of their diet.  They are a little something special here and there to be used for good behaviors, during training or as an extra special perk, similar to that chocolate chip cookie or ice cream we enjoy occasionally.

    The guide listed below is for their food, not treats or any extras they may receive, which should be of a small amount anyway.

    How Much Food Does My Active Dog Need?

    In the guide below you will find a list of active dog breeds with their weight range and how much food they generally need to perform for an hour or more of daily activity.

    If you find that your dog is exercising more than an hour or two it might be beneficial to increase the amount you feed them at their meals.  Consult with their veterinarian prior to doing this.

    Dog's Metabolic Rate

    The metabolic rate has to do with how each dogs body turns the food they eat into fuel for their bodies, how they burn calories.  How fast or slow depending on their genetics, activity, health of their bodies and food that is chosen.  This varies from dog to dog even dogs of the same breed will have a different metabolic rate.

    You can find more information regarding your fur babies metabolism and how it relates to their diet and health here

    In Conclusion

    Each dog has their own unique and special dietary needs.  Many factors determine how much food and what type of food is best for them.

    Active dogs will need more food then their less active fury best buddies due to exercising more on a regular basis.  This does not mean that the amount of food they receive must increase dramatically but to help them maintain good health and thrive they may need more.

    If you are looking for some great recipes to round out the end of summer while fueling your dogs energy you can find them at

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    Selecting the best possible dog food, having a proper feeding schedule, limiting snacks, providing fresh, clean water at all times and consulting with your canine companion’s veterinarian will ensure that they are performing at their best every day for many, many years to come.

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