How much food your dog will eat will be decided by several factors many of which are personal to the dog, as stated below:
Your dog’s age is a significant factor when it comes to the amount of food that he must eat. New born dogs upto 4 weeks need to feed on the mother’s milk several times a day. Thereafter, from the fifth to the eighth week, they may be given solid puppy foods along with mother’s milk. After the first 8 weeks, puppies upto the age of 6 months may need to be fed three or four times a day.
From 6 to 12 months, puppies must be fed atleast twice a day. 12 months onwards upto the age of seven years, dogs may be fed once or twice depending on how active he is.
After ten years of age, most dogs will begin to slow down, needing lesser food than before. Dogs that live beyond the general life expectancy of. 13-14 years of age are likely to need much lesser food than what they consumed before.
Your dog’s lifecycle goes through four stages. These stages are divided into puppy, junior, adult, mature adult, senior and geriatric.
A puppy would require to be fed several times a day once he has completed the first 4-8 weeks after birth. In these first weeks, the puppy should only take its mother’s milk for the first four weeks atleast and then you can slowly introduce your puppy to solid foods from the 5th to the 8th week.
- A 2 to 3 months old puppy typically needs to be fed four times a day.
- A 3 to 6 months old puppy requires three feeds a day.
A dog of 6 months to one year age that has grown big enough but is still growing and developing is considered a junior dog though it is still a puppy actually. In the age range of 6 to 12 months old, junior pups must be fed 2 times a day. This stage can go up to 24 months for larger breeds.
An adult dog is one that is fully grown. An adult dog may require to be fed either once or twice a day or maybe even a third feed may be required. It really depends on the activity level of the dog at this stage.
Dogs older than seven years are considered mature adults. This is when your dog has kind of hit middle age. Most dogs at this stage are fed either once or twice a day depending on their activity level.
Dogs over ten years of age are considered as senior dogs. A senior dog may not eat as much as a a younger one. Also, you might want to take your veterinarian’s help to see if you need to switch to food that is designed for senior dogs and also how much to feed him.
If you dog has completed his life expectancy and is still going, he will be considered as a geriatric dog. His activity levels are likely to be very low at this stage and food intake might come down substantially. It really becomes very case to case basis at this stage.
Your dog’s metabolism changes with age, life stage and activity levels. It can also be affected due to genetic factors or medical conditions, certain drugs etc. The amount of food your dog will consume is directly related to his metabolism. A high metabolism will result in higher food consumption. similarly, a lower metabolism will cause lower food consumption.
Your dog’s body type and size
Dog’s food consumption is affected by body type and the size of the dog. A smaller sized dog will naturally consume lesser food than a larger sized dog. So it is important to pay attention to your dog’s body type and size when deciding on how much food is ideal for him.
The required quantity of food is also based on the nutritional needs of your dog. Of course this has more to do with the nutritional components of the dog’s food than the calorific content. Dog’s suffering from any vitamin deficiencies will require higher amounts of foods that contain the specific vitamins.
Your dog’s activity level has a direct relation to his food intake. An active dog will naturally eat more than another dog that is not as active. Your dog’s activity level can be divided into high, medium, and low. Naturally, an active dog will burn a higher amount of calories, and their diet needs to reflect this.
Small dog breeds as well as toy breed dogs tend to have higher metabolic rates as compared to larger breeds. Certain dog breeds are also highly energetic while some other breeds are rather laid back. Hence the amount of food a dog will eat is also linked to the breed he belongs to.
A dog’s lifestyle is also an important factor when determining the amount of food to give to the dog. A dog that goes for long walks daily will obviously eat more than a lap dog that is always being carried around. If you have a rather sedentary dog, you need to consider that and match the quantity of food to his lifestyle. This ensures that your dog gets the right nutrients without causing him to put on weight.
The physiological status of the dog is also related to how much food he will need. Your dog’s feeding will be affected if your dog is feeling sick, if he has aging related changes, hormonal changes or if you have a pregnant / lactating female dog. The different gestational stages of a female dog come with different nutritional requirements. The female dog’s food requirement will be different during different stages of pregnancy prior to breeding and when lactating.
It is important to know and understand the changes in physiological status and to feed the dog accordingly so as to ensure proper nutrition for mother and puppies.
Spaying or neutering
If your dog has been spayed / neutered, this will affect the amount of food your dog needs.
Any digestive issues
You should also pay attention to the dog’s medications, supplements, and/or any medical procedures done or to be done.
Medications & supplements
Type and quality of dog food
The type and quality of dog food also play a critical role in deciding the amount of food to be fed to the dog. Dog foods that are made with cornmeal or meat by-products as main ingredients are not exactly providing all the required nutrition to your pet which means that your dog is likely to not feel satiated even after eating the specified quantity as his nutrition needs are not being fulfilled.
On the other hand dog food that contains main ingredients like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish would be more nutritious to your dog. Such dog food will also taste better than cornmeal or meat-byproducts based dog foods.
Certain disorders can also play a major role in deciding how much food your dog is able to eat and digest.
Feeding factors including the
Timing or scheduling of feeds
Method of feeding
will affect the amount of dog food that a dog will eat.
Overfeeding or underfeeding
Excessive use of treats
etc are some feeding factors that can severely affect how much your dog will eat.
Environmental factors including the living space and the quality of the pets’ surroundings will also impact how much food a dog will eat.
Quality of the pets’ surroundings
Insufficient or excessive care
Insufficient or excessive environmental stimulation
can cause an animal to lose its apetite or have excessive hunger. These situations require effective resolution to produce appropriate behavioral changes in the dog so that it will eat well.
- If you are not sure about whether your dog is eating enough or if you are wondering whether his nutrition needs are being met, you can take the help of a good veterinarian to determine whether the diet of your pet is inadequate, both quantitywise and qualitywise. Accordingly, you should be able to prepare a plan for food and treats that provides appropriate calories and nutrient content for the dog.
- Do keep in mind that you must consider all food consumed in calculating the total intake of food including dog food, treats, table food, etc.
- The feeding plan designed for your dog must also incorporate considerations of feeding method, frequency, and location.