If you’re a dog owner and you love your faithful friend, we know you want to give them the very best care, and nutrition is a big part of that.
One of the most important questions that you probably ask yourself is “How much food should I feed my dog?” If fed unhealthy food or food perhaps lacking sufficient nutrients, it may lead to serious deficiencies that will hinder the growth and maybe even the happiness of our dogs.
Nutritional requirements vary from dog to dog, as well as at each stage in their life.
Do your best to keep your dog as healthy as possible; you can start by educating yourself on their nutritional needs.
We here at FeedFond have done thorough research for you and we’ve written an overview of how much should you feed your dog throughout their different stages of life (Puppy to senior).
Keep on reading.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Importance of Nutrition in Your Dog’s Food:
- Nutrients Your Dog Needs:
- Health Risks of Overweight Dogs:
- How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog Throughout Different Stages?
- How Much Food Should I Feed My Puppy?
- How Much Should I Feed My Young & Adult Dog?
- How Much Should I Feed My Senior Dog?
- How Much Should I Feed My Pregnant & Nursing Bitch?
Importance of Nutrition in Your Dog’s Food:
The importance of nutrition must not be undervalued hence, the right quantity is very important for your dog, giving lower than the required amount will lead to nutritional deficiencies whereas, too much of calories may lead to obesity and the problems associated with it.
Nutritional deficiency, as the name suggests is the lack of adequate amount of nutrition for your dog. A deficiency in one or more nutrients may lead your dog to become ill, leading to poor quality of life.
Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiency:
One way to identify a nutritional deficiency is to look for symptoms—many of which are commonly associated with specific deficiencies.
That being said, what are some of the most common symptoms of a nutritional deficiency? First and foremost, watch for changes in their physical appearances such as bad skin, a patchy coat or significant, sudden weight loss—any of these things could be an indicator that something is not quite right.
Similarly, watch out for changes in behavioral patterns like becoming lethargic or showing excessive aggression.
Nutrients Your Dog Needs:
Here are some of the most important nutrients your dog needs pairing with commonly associated symptoms of their deficiency—to help you know what they’re lacking.
Protein is one of the building blocks of the dog’s body. Protein is used to rebuild and repair the body; basically, whatever cells and tissues are being subjected to wear and tear, protein is the nutrient used to restore them.
Symptoms of Protein Deficiency:
If your dog is not getting enough protein, you’ll be able to tell.
Symptoms may include a loss of appetite and weight, wounds that are slow to heal, weakness, aggression and a dull coat and skin.
Sources of Protein:
In order to boost your dog’s protein intake, keep adding extra protein to their diet and take them to regular visits with the vet to gradually build their health profile.
2. Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are some of the most common fatty acids for dogs.
They aid in the lubrication of joints and the digestive tract, skin and coat maintenance and growth and development of joints, organs, and tissues. They are also known to promote a healthy heart.
Symptoms of Fatty Acids Deficiency:
A typical Omega deficiency will be suggested by inflammatory diseases, eye problems, cancer and a thickening of the skin (hyperkeratosis). If prolonged, it may end up causing cancer.
Sources of Fatty Acids:
To boost their fat intake, give your pet food containing flaxseed and fish oil—excellent sources of fatty acids. In addition, you can always buy fatty acid supplements from the store.
Vitamins, as we know, comes from external sources and cannot be created naturally within the body, so vitamin deficiencies are common.
Each vitamin has a specific function and although your dog doesn’t require huge amounts of vitamins, stay attentive to these symptoms to maybe understand which vitamins they could be lacking.
Vitamin A (beta-carotene):
If your dog gets sick often, they could be suffering from vitamin A deficiency.
Other symptoms include dry skin and night blindness.
Sources of Vitamin A:
Carrots are excellent sources of vitamin A, as well as pumpkins and winter squash. You can also add a good source of fat like coconut oil to help the absorption of beta-carotene.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):
Flaky skin, problems with vision and stunted growth are all indicators of a riboflavin deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin B2:
Give your dog healthy doses of whole grains and vegetables to keep these conditions in check. You can also opt for commercial food containing high amounts of Vitamin B2.
Just make sure to read the label carefully before purchase.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin):
Major indicators of a niacin deficiency are the darkening of your dog’s tongue to brown or black, a lack of appetite, inflamed (swollen) lips and diarrhea accompanied by bleeding. If a deficiency is taken to the extreme, your dog may experience seizures.
Sources of Vitamin B3:
Quinoa, oats, brown rice and vegetables are all great sources of niacin.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):
A lack of vitamin B6 may lead to kidney damage, epilepsy or even asthma arterial diseases.
Sources of Vitamin B6:
Oats, peanut butter, bananas and sweet potatoes are good sources of Pyridoxine.
A lack of vitamin D could result in orthopedic problems like swollen joints or bowed legs.
Sources of Vitamin D:
To avoid Vitamin D deficiency or to overcome it, look for plant-based multivitamins with vitamin D and make sure your dog gets lots of sunshine.
Vitamin K helps blood clot, so if your dog seems to be hemorrhagic, chances are high that it’s due to a lack of vitamin K.
Sources of Vitamin K:
Add whole food-based supplements like spinach and kale (or other leafy green vegetables) to your dog’s diet.
Important Read: Dog Vaccination Guide: The Right Vaccination & Schedule
Health Risks of Overweight Dogs:
Extra pounds come with an extra cost—it puts the body under unnecessary strain. According to experts, one-quarter of dogs are at the risk of being overweight.
Just like malnutrition, when dogs become overweight, they become prone to a number of health risks with potentially serious consequences. Some of these include:
# 1. Orthopedic problems:
Most dogs develop very serious orthopedic problems if they’re overweight due to their excessive weight. That is because the bones are designed to carry a certain amount of weight; when putting an extra burden on the bones the additional pressure will gradually cause unnecessary damage leading to various problems such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.
#2. Diabetes Mellitus:
Diabetes in dogs is caused when excess insulin is secreted into the blood due to an increase in the level of glucose in the blood.
#3. Heart Diseases:
Overweight dogs are more at risk to increased blood pressure when the heart works overtime to pump blood to the extra tissues.
#4. Difficulty Breathing:
Overweight dogs greater difficulty breathing because the lungs are not able to function properly; the excess fat in the chest makes it difficult for the lungs to fully expand.
#5. Intolerance to Heat:
Being overweight makes it very difficult for a dog to regulate their body’s temperature—fat is a natural insulator.
#6. The Decline in Liver Function:
An increased amount of fat build-up in the liver puts added strain on the organ and decreases its ability to function properly.
Some other problems related to obesity include digestive disorders, decreased immunity and skin & coat problems.
The most important question still remains unanswered!
How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog Throughout Different Stages?
In this section, we are going to discuss the feeding guides for your puppies, young and adult dogs, senior dogs and pregnant female dogs.
Keep on reading.
First off, how much should you feed your dog is totally up to you to decide, depending on your dog’s age, breed and activity level.
But keep in mind that you might have to go through a lot of trial and error before you get it exactly right. It’s a learning process, but you’ll figure it out.
There is actually no rule of thumb just guideline here and there. For example, puppies definitely need more nutrition than older dogs. So as your dog ages their metabolic rate changes, and as such, you’ll need to modify their diet.
However, it’s not just that straightforward—the longevity of your dog depends on its breed.
For example, a smaller breed like Bichon Frise may live up to 15-years-old, so they may actually become a senior when they are 9-years-old. On the other hand, a Great Dane which tends to live up to 10 years may be considered a senior around 6.5 years old.
However, here we have designed a general feeding chart for your reference that you can follow for all ages and sizes of dogs.
Dog Feeding Chart:
How Much Water Does My Dog Need?
Water and its importance cannot be underestimated. It helps with nutrient absorption into cells.
Animals are prone to dehydration if they don’t get enough water. Signs of dehydration in dogs include dry gums and sunken eyeballs.
How much water does your dog need? Well, the amount of water you give depends on your dog’s activity level. But, a great rule of thumb to determine the quantity needed is to give one ounce of water per pound of body weight.
It’s important that your dog’s water bowl is always full—it will keep them happy and running.
An important part of your dog’s food cycle is transitioning from one stage to another. What we mean by this is, you’ll have to change from puppy food to adult food appropriately. According to pet experts, it’s best to add new food gradually— 10% every 10 days to be precise—to the existing food till you can make the complete transition.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Puppy?
It’s important to provide healthy food to your puppies from the very beginning—the first years of life are the most vital. Start them off with a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet to give them the best possible health.
According to the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a puppy needs a minimum of 22% protein in his daily diet, along with at least 8% fat.
It’s always better to feed your dog whole feeds because it’s easier for the body to process. Also, for as long as possible, let your puppy nurse from his mother’s milk.
This will sustain him for a prolonged period of time. If you come across a puppy whose mother is not around, feed him specialized puppy formula using a syringe.
From the time your puppy is born to about four to six weeks, should be long enough; after that point, you can take your puppy off his mother’s milk. Get a very good puppy food in consultation with a vet and blend it thoroughly. Add this to a milk replacer and give it to them slowly, transitioning to dog food by the time your pup reaches the age of eight weeks.
It’s important to remember: your puppy must be at least eight weeks old before they can start eating proper puppy dog food.
How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?
Referring to the feeding guide above, divide their daily meal into at least four meals a day and then, give it to your puppy over the entire day.
It’s best to give them their last meal by 6 pm so they have ample time to digest the food before bedtime.
Can I Give My Puppy Adult Dog Food?
No, it’s advisable not to. Why? Well, first of all, puppies have higher nutritional needs than a dog—they’re growing. If you’ve decided to give them adult dog food, you need to give them a very high-quality food; even still, the chances are high that your puppy may not be able to adjust to this food.
Secondly, adult-sized kibble is usually too big for a puppy’s mouth, so it could actually end up damaging their jaw and causing other digestive problems, not to mention the risk of choking.
How Much Should I Feed My Young & Adult Dog?
The food and nutrition requirements of adult dogs are substantially different from puppies. Their requirements are based mainly on their activity level, weight, and breed.
If you are giving your dog raw food, an adult dog generally eats about 2.5% of their weight, with the amount, of course, being greater for active breeds (about 3% of their body weight).
In case you are giving dry dog food, it is a different story altogether. For smaller dogs weighing up to 10 pounds, 3/4 cup to 1 cup—that’s 75 gms to 100 gms—per day of dry dog food is good enough. On the other hand, for bigger dogs like Great Danes, you might need up to 6 cups—610 gms—per day.
Nutritional Information for Young & Adult Dog:
The AAFCO requirements for dogs states an adult dog needs about 22% protein, 8% fat and the rest in carbohydrates and minerals. According to the latest study, dogs don’t really need any extra carbohydrates. So, when you’re looking for dog food, make sure to check the labels to see if the stated minimum requirements are met.
How Often Should I Feed My Young & Adult Dog?
Well, it’s important to measure out their food, each meal. It’s recommended to give them food at least twice a day to avoid bloating and control his hunger. Simply, divide the stated amount between two meals.
How Much Should I Feed My Senior Dog?
With aging, our dog’s body and its metabolic rates change, this is something that should be embraced gracefully. With aging, their nutritional requirements change—your dog’s body will burn fewer calories.
Unfortunately, in certain cases, you might notice your dog getting thin and frail. Given this possibility, it’s important to do your best to provide sufficient nutritional needs.
Calorie and Nutrient Information for Senior Dog:
According to studies, your senior dog requires about 20% fewer calories than what in his younger years.
Though it’s always a good idea to feed your senior dogs a diet lower in fat; however if you notice that your dog is getting frail, increase the fat content of their food. You can also give them higher levels of protein.
A senior dog needs 50% more dietary protein than their younger companions. What’s the difference? Well, with aging, the body loses muscle mass and becomes more vulnerable to physical trauma, stress, and infections. As they age, their tissues are no longer able to restore as when they were younger.
Senior dogs also need a little more fiber than usual—it helps them regulate their glucose. As for minerals, give it to your senior dog in moderation because they may be prone to hypertension, heart problems and kidney.
Finally, make sure to give them food with high amounts of antioxidants and fish oils (for the omegas) and most importantly, keep them hydrated by always making sure they get enough water as dogs age, their body loses an ability to retain water—they can become easily dehydrated.
Senior dogs may also suffer from a loss of appetite and sensitive stomachs, so it’s important to really care for your dogs and give them the best possible chance at a long, healthy life.
So in summary, how much should I feed my senior dog? Well, 20% less than what you’ve been giving them all along.
How Often Should I Feed My Senior dog?
After deciding how much to feed your senior dog, you need to decide how often to feed them. Well, as a rule of thumb, from the feeding chart given above, divide the given quantity to two meals a day. This will keep them full over intervals and will also help reduce bloat.
Make sure to pay attention to their weight and take them to the vet regularly.
How Much Should I Feed My Pregnant & Nursing Bitch?
Like all animals, mothers-to-be have special dietary needs. Prenatal care is very important as it ensures a healthy start for the puppies.
Once a female dog is pregnant, make sure she gets a high quality, well-balanced diet to ensure she gets all the nutrients required.
Nutritional Information for Pregnant and Nursing Bitch:
According to guidelines, she will need at least 29% protein and 17% fat, along with an adequate amount of calcium.
It’s also necessary to consume high amounts of soluble carbohydrates.
The only time you don’t need to worry about this is if you’re already feeding her a high-quality lactation diet.
Keep in mind, fetal growth is slow during the initial stages (up to the sixth week), but really speeds up during the last four weeks of gestation; accordingly, the amount of food given has to be adjusted accordingly.
Unfortunately, puppies born to mothers who’ve struggled through their pregnancy are weak and lethargic with health problems. In extreme cases, these puppies may even die an untimely death.
Lactating female dogs should be given at least 17% fat; increase her consumption by 25% per puppy.
How Often Should I feed My Pregnant Dog?
During pregnancy, your pet might suffer from nausea and a decrease in appetite; you can scale back the size of meals and feed them for often—this may help.
If your pet is not well-fed during this time, she is likely to become frail and it can negatively impact the growth of the fetus.
Sometimes, to meet the nutritional needs, you will notice that your pet may eat more, but end up with excessive diarrhea.
Our dogs deserve our best love and care for all the companionship they give us. We hope this guide is informative and educational. Remember to look out for allergies and anything else your dog may be sensitive to. Always make the very best use of the knowledge and resources available to you.
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