Figuring out how much to feed your dog is something that many dog owners struggle with. Dogs are great at convincing us that they are starving to death using those big puppy eyes. It’s very tempting to cave in and give them more food. But, you have to be careful about how much you feed your dog, and be vigilant with their portion sizes.
Approximately 58% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity causes tons of problems in our dogs, ranging from health-related joint issues, diabetes, and even behavioral issues.
OK, So How Much Should I Feed My Dog?
Unfortunately this question is completely subjective. The easy approach is to follow the guidelines printed on whichever bag of food you buy. Be careful that you feed the recommended amount for your dog’s ideal weight, not their current weight.
The higher quality food you buy, the less you need to feed. Higher quality foods are more nutrient-dense and have less filler in them, therefore your dog needs less in order to get their required nutrition.
A better approach, but a more complicated one, is to vary the amount of food depending on several things:
- The quality of the food.
- What type of food it is.
- Your dog’s activity level.
For instance, my dog Tyler is about 27 lbs. full-grown and stays on high quality grain-free foods. In her prime, when she was out on the Ranch at DogBoy’s with me every day, she was eating nearly 4 cups of food per day and in good shape. Now, she’s eight years old and a lot less active, so she eats about 1 cup per day. If we have more activity in a given day, I sometimes raise the amount to 1.5 cups. If she’s boarding I’ll knock it up to 2 cups of food. It’s all about how much they’re doing in a day, just like us.
How Do I Tell If My Dog Is Obese?
The easiest way to tell if your dog needs to lose a few pounds, is to check this chart. There are also a few other visual cues that you can easily check at home. Your dog should:
- Have a tuck in at the waist
- Have a tuck up after their ribcage
- Have ribs that you can feel under the fat layer
- Not have visible ribs
You can use the “Rib Fist” trick to check your dog’s fat layer. Make a fist and use your other hand to run your fingers across different areas of it. Feel the back of your clenched fist, that’s what your dog’s ribs feel like if they’re overweight. Feel the knuckles, that’s what underweight ribs feel like. Feel the tips of your fingers, that’s what ideal weight ribs feel like. This quick trick can help you identify if your dog is eating the right amount.
What Do I Do If My Dog is Obese? Should I Try a Diet Food?
Diet foods for dogs are much like diet foods for people… a lot of marketing. Don’t worry about finding a low calorie food, just feed them less and get more active with your dog.
If you are concerned about your dog’s weight, then discuss it with your vet and make sure they are generally healthy before increasing their exercise. When you are ready to get your dog moving, try some doggy day care, check out our private dog park, or try a sport like Agility to get in shape together!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact DogBoy’s Dog Ranch today!