Disclaimer: This article is meant to serve as a guide. Consult your vet for further recommendations based on personal knowledge of your pet.
Determining the exact nutritional needs of your dog can be a little confusing. There are many things to take into consideration, including your pup’s age, current weight, activity, environment, any health issues, and which dog food to choose.
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Choosing a Nutritional Dog Food
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires dog food to be packaged with nutritional information, an ingredient list and feeding instructions. Since all brands use different recipes, each type of food will be labeled with different amounts of protein, fat, carbs and vitamins.
All dogs have different needs based on age and activity. For example, an growing puppy will need more food than an elderly dog. When determining how much to feed your pup, begin with the amounts listed below, and adjust as needed.
A dog that is between 5 and 15 lbs. is considered tiny.
They generally require ½ c. to 1 c. of food daily.
If your pup is between 16 and 25 lbs. it falls in the small dog category.
A dog this size should have 1 c. to 1 ½ c. of food each day.
A medium-sized dog weighs between 26 and 50 lbs.
The recommended amount of food to maintain this weight is between 1 ¼ c. and 2 c. of food a day.
A dog that is 51 – 75 lbs. is a large dog.
The average amount of food consumed by a pup this size is between 2 c. and 4 ½ c. per day.
A very large dog is one that is 76 lbs. or more.
These dogs require between 3 ½ c. and 6 c. of food every day.
Calculating by Weight
Serving sizes can be calculated by weight, if desired. The formula for this is as follows:
Pups weight multiplied by 0.025 equals weight of daily food to be provided.
If your pup weighs 30 pounds, the formula would read:
30 x 0.025=0.75
You would provide ¾ of a pound of food every day.
This formula can also be used to help your dog reach his ideal weight. If your dog needs to lose 5 pounds, calculate his servings according to his ideal weight and decrease portions appropriately. Use a measuring cup for accuracy.
If your pup needs to lose a significant amount of weight, consult with your veterinarian before changing his routine.
How often should you feed your pup?
The amounts listed above should be divided into the amount of servings you are going to provide. Puppies under the age of 6 months might need to eat smaller amounts up to 3 times a day, and may require up to twice as much food as an adult dog. An adult pup should eat twice a day, but an older dog may be healthier with just one feeding.
To make meal scheduling easier, you can opt for an automatic dog feeder with a timer. This helps not only keep them on a consistent regimen, but it can also help make sure your dog doesn’t miss meals when you’re away.
Is your dog overweight?
You want to see a waistline. If you stand next to your pup and look down at him or her, you should see an “hourglass” shape. Also, you should be able to feel his or her ribs, but you shouldn’t see them.
The American Association of Food Control Officers (AAFCO) recommends 22% protein and 8% fat for growth and 18% protein and 5% fat for adult maintenance. If your pup’s food doesn’t fall within these guidelines, it may contribute to weight gain. If you decide to change brands, it should be done gradually by mixing in a small portion of the new food with the current food, slowly increasing the new food over the course of a few weeks.