One of the most common queries I receive is how much food do I feed my dog?
In particular, you have been asking how to work out portion sizes when 4Legs, dry food and table scraps are being fed as well. The answer to this question is never straightforward because determining the calorie requirement for any adult dog depends on a number of factors including ideal weight, whether the dog is desexed, activity level and breed.
Even when all of these factors are known, there is a huge amount of individual variation in animals that otherwise seems similar:
- Entire dogs may require more calories (but not always)
- Overweight animals require less calories (feed amount for ideal weight)
- Very active animals will usually need more calories
- Inactive dogs require less calories.
I recommend that all dogs are fed twice daily, meaning half their calories are fed in the morning and the other half in the afternoon or evening. This is to help maintain a properly functioning metabolism and even out energy supply throughout the day. For all dogs, this helps with weight management. Also, avoiding feeding one large meal daily will reduce the risk of a twisted stomach, particularly in large and giant breeds.
A small amount of table scraps can usually be added to the normal food without the need for altering the feeding amounts. It is important to ensure at least three quarters of the calories provided each day are from a complete and balanced food.
Using a high quality commercially-prepared food is the safest and easiest way to ensure your dog gets adequate vitamins and minerals, and does not suffer from an upset stomach with a sudden significant diet change. Home cooked meals can be complete but require careful planning and usually vitamin and mineral supplementation.
It’s best to avoid:
- Fatty scraps such as the trimmings of steak and bacon as these can cause pancreatitis
- Grapes and grape products like sultanas and raisins, avocado, macadamia nuts and chocolate which can cause serious illness if ingested.
If your dog is gaining weight or losing weight, you will need to use your judgment and adjust their portion sizes. Extreme, sudden or unexplained weight changes should be investigated by a veterinarian as it can be a sign of illness.
The aim of the table below is to give you a rough idea on where to start with your portion sizes for your dog. The amounts for each type of food are for the whole day. Remember to divide the portion sizes by the number of meals when feeding two or more meals per day.
|Weight (kg)||Daily energy requirement (kcal)||Amount of 4Legs per day (g)||Amount of dry food per day (g)||Table scraps maximum (g)|
Example calculation for a 10kg dog fed dry food and table scraps in the morning and 4Legs at night:
Morning meal: Dry food 87g (half of 174g) plus 41g table scraps.
Afternoon meal: 4Legs 165g (half of 331g)