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How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

We adore our dogs, and one of our favorite ways to demonstrate that love to them is through the food they love.  Couple that with the fact that many dogs are experts at looking pitifully hungry, and one can start to understand why over 40% of dogs in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.  There are several factors that contribute to this high number, but one primary question to resolve first is how much should I feed my dog? 

Answering this question takes a bit of research. Calories per cup in the different brands and lines of commercial dog food vary greatly.  I researched five randomly chosen brands and found that the highest calorie food in the group had more than twice the calories per cup than the lowest calorie food in the selected group! Additionally, the weight management foods of some brands have more calories than the regular foods of others! Therefore, determining the right amount to feed your dog requires a bit of research to determine the calorie content of the specific food you are using.  Note that the goal here is not necessarily to choose the lowest calorie food available, but to determine the correct amount to feed of the food your dog is eating.

Formula To Calculate How Much To Feed Your Dog


The basic equation for determining the calories an average pet dog needs is:

                                      (13.6 X Dog's Weight in Pounds) + 70

For example, if your dog weighs fifty pounds, the equation becomes

                                      (13.6 X 50) + 70, or 750 calories/day


This equation refers to an average pet dog who is spayed or neutered.  For an unaltered dog, multiply the final count by 1.2 to increase calories by 20%, or 900 calories in the fifty pound dog example above.  Additionally, pregnant and lactating dogs require more calories; check with your veterinarian for that special case.

 

Apply Formula To Figure Out Optimal Serving Sizes For Your Dog

Now that you know how many calories your dog should need each day to maintain his weight, you can determine the proper feeding amount for his food.  First, note that for every brand I checked, the recommend daily feeding amount was substantially more than the daily needs as calcluated by the equation, so simply matching your dog's weight to the chart on the back of the dog food back is not sufficient to determine the proper feeding amount. Calories per cup are available on some bags of dog food, but if the calories are not shown, you can usually get the information from the company's website.

Evo Dog Food from Natura Pet (Proctor & Gamble)

537/calories per cup
Recommendation on bag for 50 pound dog:  2 1/8 cups/day (total 1,143 calories, or 52% more than needed)

Actual amount needed for average neutered or spayed pet dog:  1 3/8 cups per day

 

 

 

Earthborn Hollistic Grain Free from Wells

430/calories per cup
Recommendation on bag for 50 pound dog:  2 cups/day (total 860 calories, or 15% more than needed)
Actual amount needed for average neutered or spayed pet dog:  1 3/4 cups per day

 

 

Purina One from Purina

355/calories per cup
Recommendation . on bag for 50 pound dog: 3 1/4 cups/day (total 1,153 calories, or 52% more than needed)
Actual amount needed for average neutered or spayed pet dog:  2 cups per day

 

 

Pedigree from Mars Petcare

278/calories per cup
Recommendation . on bag for 50 pound dog: 3 1/2 cups/day (total 973 calories, or 30% more than needed)
Actual amount needed for average neutered or spayed pet dog:  2  3/4 cups per day

 


Iams from Proctor and Gamble

367/calories per cup
Recommendation on bag for 50 pound dog: 3 1/2 cups/day (total 973 calories, or 30% more than needed)
Actual amount needed for average neutered or spayed pet dog:  2  3/4 cups per day

 

Note this article is not analyzing other factors regarding the quality of these sample foods.  Beyond calories, there are many variations among ingredients and nutritional value of commercial dog foods that warrant discussion in a separate article.  In fact, the higher-calorie examples in this list are excellent foods; you must just be careful to feed the correct amount for your pet.  Because they have fewer fillers than some less expensive foods, they are more nutrient-dense per volume and therefore you must feed less per day to meet your pets needs.

Unless your dog is extremely active and/or underweight, ensuring his meals meet these guidelines may improve your dog's health in the long run.  If your pup needs to cut back, you can make the transition easier on your dog by adding frozen or canned green beans to your dogs food to make up some of the volume difference.  If your dog needs to shed some pounds, work with your veterinarian to determine a plan.  As a starting point, it is advisable to cut the calories determined in the above equation by approximately 20% for a dieting dog.

 Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is critical for his long-term health.  Feeding the right amount of  food is a great start to ensuring this. 

So do you think this is a good formula? How much are you feeding your dog?

See also: 5 Best Dog Foods Reviewed

Comments
May 21, 2012
by Anonymous
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Great.

Great.

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