How much food should my dog eat?
Much like people, there are eat-to-live and live-to-eat dogs. Keeping eat-to-live dogs healthy (and at a healthy weight) is relatively straightforward, especially if they’re already an active dog. But a live-to-eat dog needs a bit of diet management.
Of course, it’s not just the art of making sure your dog’s food is healthy. You also have to make sure they’re eating the right amount of it.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how much food should my dog eat, you’re in luck. We did the research so that you don’t have to. Here’s a quick and easy guide to healthy dog food and the proper care and feeding of your pup.
The Basics of Your Dog’s Diet
No matter the amount, you need to make sure your dog’s food maximizes health benefits.
A dog is a member of the scientific order Carnivora, which is a large group of mammals with a similar tooth structure. Dietary needs range from obligate carnivores (like cats) to mammals who can meet dietary needs through plant matter, with omnivores (like humans) in the middle. Dogs, like their favorite humans, are omnivores.
Because of this, healthy dogs will consume a balanced diet just like their humans, consisting of six essential nutrients:
The source of these nutrients doesn’t matter as much as the quality and digestibility. Dogs have evolved to use protein and fat as their primary energy sources, but they also need the other four nutrients for other bodily functions. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets nutritional guidelines for commercial dog food.
How to Choose the Best Pet Food for Your Dog’s Health
Choosing the right food for your dog is all about knowing your dog’s unique features.
For example, in much the same way that babies have different dietary needs than adults, a puppy has different dietary needs than an adult dog. Similarly, small dogs have different feeding requirements than large dogs, since they use energy differently.
No matter the food, there are three rules to keep in mind.
First, you should give your dog the highest quality dog food you can afford. Like with humans, fresh food will always be a more natural and easier to digest source of nutrients than packaged, highly processed foods like kibble.
Second, read the food label carefully--not just the percentages, but the ingredients. The quality of the dog food shows through in the quality of the ingredients. Two dog foods may both have 25% of your dog’s daily value of protein, but their protein sources may be night and day in terms of quality and digestibility. If in doubt, look for dog foods with ingredients you can recognize. For example, if the majority of the protein is derived from meat sources, that will be a much healthier food for your pup than one where the protein is mainly derived from legumes. This is because meat has higher levels of more essential amino acids than plants do, and amino acids generate energy, build and repair cells and muscles, and create hormones and enzymes.
Third, look at the order of ingredients. Dog food labels list ingredients in order of weight. So if the first ingredient on the list is filler such as potato starch, unpronounceable, or both, take your business elsewhere.
Feeding Suggestions: Measuring Your Dog’s Intake
With that in mind, you can start to think about how much food to feed your dog. Again, this depends on the size and age of your dog. It may also vary based on your dog’s activity level, overall metabolism, and any other preexisting health issues. Make sure to talk to your vet about any health conditions that may change how much you should feed your dog.
Overall, though, here’s a quick breakdown of how much food to feed my dog, broken up by overall age.
The Right Amount of Dog Food for Puppies
According to the American Kennel Club, you should watch the dog, not the dish. This is especially important for puppies, since their most recent food memories involve fighting with the litter for mom’s milk. Also, it takes a lot of energy to do all that growing, so your puppy is genuinely excited for dinnertime.
In general, puppies should be fed three times per day. Like an adult, their food is based on their weight, but they need small, more frequent meals throughout the day. Depending on the puppy, they may eat up to four times per day, totaling two to three times the adult amount.
The Right Amount of Dog Food for Adult Dogs
In general, adult dogs should be fed twice per day, but this depends on the type of food and its nutrition contents, as well as the dog’s activity level, metabolism, and age. With a nutrition-rich food such as A Pup Above, we’ve developed the following guidelines, which are based on adult maintenance guidelines established by AAFCO.:
While most feeding guidelines will advise using a standard measuring cup to measure out dog food, a more accurate way to portion out your dog's food is to weigh it, since the amount of food you can pack into a cup varies a lot.
Depending on your dog’s personality, your dog’s own eating habits may decide when enough is enough without any interference from you. Again, keep in mind that your dog’s unique traits will determine their food intake. If you’re ever unsure, consult your vet.
To learn more about specifically feeding your dog A Pup Above, check out our feeding guidelines here.
Healthy, All Natural Dog Food That You and Your Dog Will Adore
Figuring out how much food to feed your dog each day doesn’t have to be rocket science. It all begins with the right food--better still, food that takes care of the nutritional science so that you don’t have to.
At A Pup Above, we believe in feeding dogs just as healthy as their beloved humans. That’s why we pack our foods with non-GMO veggies, all natural meat with no added antibiotics or growth hormones, and, of course, lots of healthy meat protein (11 grams per serving).Ready to give your dog a meal you’ll both love? Check out our dog food selection to get started.