Amount To Feed

One of the first questions that comes up when anyone wants to switch to a homemade diet is, how much should I feed? There are guidelines that can help you figure out a starting amount, but remember that each dog is an individual. The amount of food needed by each dog will vary considerably depending on activity level and metabolism, and such factors as the amount of fat in the diet. Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight whenever you switch diets and adjust the amounts you feed up or down as needed, increasing or decreasing no more than 10 percent at a time.

It is healthier for dogs of all ages to be lean rather than plump. If you have a dog who is relatively inactive, or tends to gain weight easily, you can reduce the amount of fat in the diet by removing skin and visible fat from poultry, and by feeding leaner meats and low-fat dairy products. For dogs that need a very low-fat diet due to chronic pancreatitis or fat intolerance, boiling meat or rinsing after cooking will remove most of the fat.

As a general rule, dogs will eat around 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in fresh food daily (use cooked weights for foods that are cooked). Large dogs will tend to eat a lower percentage, and small dogs a higher percentage of their body weights. Toy breeds may need as much as 4 to 5 percent of their body weight daily, while giant breeds might eat as little as 1½ percent, or even less.

I might start with around 2 pounds of food a day for a 100-pound dog (2 percent of their body weight), 1 to 1½ pounds of food for a 50-pound dog (2 to 3 percent of body weight), ½ to ¾ of a pound (8 to 12 ounces) of food for a 25-pound dog (2 to 3 percent of body weight), and 5 to 6½ ounces of food for a 10 pound dog (3 to 4 percent of body weight). When making your calculations, remember that ounces are not the same as tenths – 1.5 pounds is not 21 ounces (1 pound 5 ounces), it is 24 ounces (1.5 * 16).

If you feed two meals a day, divide the total amount in half for each meal. If you know your dog is very active, tends to be on the thin side, or eats more now than would be expected for his age and size, then start with higher amounts, and feed fattier foods. If you have a couch potato, or a dog who is overweight or gains weight easily, start with less, and feed lower-fat foods. Again, watch your dog’s weight closely, using a scale if possible, and adjust as needed.

Note that leafy green veggies supply few calories, so don’t count them in when calculating the amount of food to feed, but add them on top of the rest of the diet. If you have a dog who is overweight and likes veggies, this is one way to increase the amount of food that she can have without causing weight gain.

The fat content of the diet will affect the amount you feed. Most dogs should have a moderate amount of fat in their diet, which means limiting meats that are really high in fat, such as 75 percent lean ground beef and some ground lamb and pork products. When feeding poultry (e.g., chicken, turkey, duck), remove visible globs of fat, and maybe some of the skin as well, particularly if your dog isn’t very active.

If you find you need to feed less than the amounts recommended above to keep your dog at a healthy weight, try reducing the amount of fat, so that he can have more food in order to get the nutrients that he needs (but don’t feed a really low-fat diet, as that will cause your dog to feel hungry all the time).

On the other hand, if you find yourself having to feed more than would be expected for your dog’s size, you can increase the amount of fat. Working dogs and those who are very active and have trouble keeping weight on will benefit from a higher-fat diet. Keep in mind that dogs do not normally have problems with high cholesterol, so that is not a concern if you need to feed a high-fat diet.

Grains and starchy carbs can also affect weight. Dogs who have trouble maintaining their weight on a normal amount of food may benefit from added carbohydrates, while reducing them can help those who need to lose weight.


See also:kcal

Amount to Feed

Each dog is an individual, and the amount of food needed will vary considerably, depending on activity level and metabolism, as well as the amount of fat in the diet.

Portion Size

Portion sizes are based on the number of calories needed twice a day by a moderately active adult dog (puppies eat more.) Portions are given for three weight levels: small, medium, and alrge dogs. For dogs in between these weights, you can adjust the amounts accordingly. For example, feed a 25 pound dog an amount midway between those for small and medium dogs and a 60 pound dog an amount midway between those for medium and large dogs. Working dogs and other highly active dogs need more calories, so increase portion sizes or the amount of fat (especially for recipes that have low to moderate fat levels) in these recipes for these dogs. Watch your dog's weight and adjust the portions as needed to keep your dog slim.

Small dogs (13lbs) 250 calories
Medium dogs (35lbs) 500 calories
Large dogs (80lbs) 1,000 calories

If you want your dog to lose weight decrease the amount fed by no more than 10% every two weeks until you begin to see weight loss, then continue to feed that amount. Slow and gradual weight lossis key, drastic changes in the amount of food fed will slow the metabolism and make it harder for your dog to lose weight.

Making the Switch

If your dog is prone to digestive upset, replace a small amount of commerical food with the new diet, then increase the amount every few days as long as your dog is doing well. If problems such as diarrhea develop, revert to what you fed before and make the change even more slowly, using lower fat foods.

Puppies, Pregnancy, and Nursing

Puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs have special nutritional needs- for example, too much or too little calcium can result in serious health problems. The amount of calcium to add depends on the diet you feed, so it's difficult to give the exact ammounts that would apply to all diets, but adding 1,200-1,500mg of calcium per 1 pound of food to the recipes here should be safe for puppies. Do not increase the amount of calcium given during pregnancy. Doing so can lead to eclampsia (calcium deficiency) after the puppies are born. It is fine to increase calcium amounts given whle the puppies are nursing, but not before. In these special cases, it may be safer to feed a dog food mix approved for puppies or all life stages, combined with fresh foods according to their instructions. Always seek professional advice.

Source: The Healthy Dog Cookbook

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