Dog Food Serving Size: How Much To Feed Your Dog

Your pet means the world to you and you want to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Therefore, it’s wise to learn more about dog food serving size and how much to feed your dog.

Pet food producers are required to list serving recommendations and calorie counts on the label. This makes it easier to decide how much food your dog should get but there’s still a bit more you need to know. It’s extremely important to feed your dog the right amount of food for optimal health. The truth is that dog food serving size and calorie intake isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. However, don’t worry because below are some guidelines that can help you get close to the right amount and feeding schedule.

Factors that Influence How Much to Feed Your Dog

Several factors influence the serving size you should choose when asking yourself, how much should I feed my dog. Below are a few of these elements to consider when trying to determine your dog’s nutritional needs:

  • Type of dog food (dry food vs. kibble vs. wet food and different dog food brands)
  • Dog’s body weight
  • Dog’s age (based on life stages, i.e. puppies vs. adult dogs vs. senior dogs or older dogs)
  • Dog’s activity level (active dogs vs. inactive…will impact the number of calories the dog will need)
  • Special health needs
  • Feeding schedule

The best course of action you can take when determining how much to feed your dog is to consult your vegetarian for guidance on your dog’s diet.

Dog Food Serving Size Guidelines by Body Weight

When trying to decide how much to feed your dog, it’s wise to follow the dog eat and dog food serving size guidelines by body weight. This feeding guide will help you quickly and effectively choose a safe and healthy amount of food to feed your pet. Use a measuring cup for best results to provide the right amount of dog food based on size and dietary needs.

Small Breeds (between 10-20 pounds)

Your dog may fall into this category if they’re a Boston Terrier, Dachshund, Shih Tzus, or Pug.

  • 10 pounds: 3/4 cup per day
  • 15 pounds: 1 cup per day
  • 20 pounds: 1 2/3 cup per day

Medium Breeds (between 30-50 pounds)

These dogs will require a little more food than the small breeds. Your dog may fall into this category if they’re an Australian Shepherd, Bull Terrier, or Collie.

  • 30 pounds: 1 3/4 cups per day
  • 40 pounds: 2 1/4 cups per day
  • 50 pounds: 2 2/3 cups per day

Large Breeds (between 60-100+)

They’ll require more food in general and are big and easy to spot. Your dog may fall into this category if they’re German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, or Bernese Mountain Dog.

  • 60 pounds: 3 cups per day
  • 70 pounds: 3 1/2 cups per day
  • 80 pounds: 3 3/4 cups per day
  • 90 pounds: 4 1/4 cups per day
  • 100 pounds: 4 1/2 cups per day

Extra-Large Breeds 

If your dog weighs over 100 pounds then add in an extra 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds.

5 Handy Tips to Feed Your Dog the Right Amount of Food

The following four feeding tips will help you better understand how to feed your dog the right amount of food and ensure your dog is receiving the proper nutrition.

1. Assess Your Pet’s Health

Before changing anything, you need to take stock of your dog’s weight and overall health. It’s wise to get a vet’s opinion but the basics can be done at home. Weigh your dog or cat and, if he has a short coat, take a couple of photos to show his overall physique. Your goal is to keep your dog at a healthy weight or ideal weight and avoid obesity and having to manage overweight dogs in your household.

Feel around his ribs, hips, and backbone and check if there is meat over them or if your dog is boney. Their bones may have disappeared under a layer of fat. Each breed has different characteristics but the general rule is that you should be able to feel your dog’s bones through the skin and muscle. Your pet should also have a waist without too much tummy.

Whether you’re measuring food by cups or calories, start with the recommended amount of food. Make sure you measure and don’t simply scoop out what you think is the right amount. This lets you make more deliberate and precise adjustments.

It’s important to keep in mind that weight loss and weight gain should be slow and gradual. Crash diets are no better for your pet than they are for you so make changes carefully.

3. Adjust Based on Your Dog’s Unique Needs

Puppies and kittens generally need 20 percent more calories than adults. There will be variations depending on the breed and size as well as how fast your pet is growing. This can change quickly so keep revisiting your choices as your pet grows. Dogs seven years and older tend to need 20 percent fewer calories than an adult of the same size.

Dogs and cats that live outside in a cold climate will need significantly more food and it should be higher in fat. Pets that live outside in hot climates will need less food as they will be less active in the heat.

Any diet changes should be gradual. Pregnant, nursing, ill, and injured pets will all have unique nutritional needs that should be discussed with a veterinarian.

4. Keep Track of Diet Changes

Keep track of your pet’s changes and what caused them. Is your dog losing or gaining weight? Or is your pet maintaining it? Adjust the food portion size and exercise according to your goals for your pet.

Take a look at your dog’s coat too. You may not see any change after just one week but as time goes on you may. If your pet’s hair gets oily or dry, brittle, or starts falling out, take a step back and check with your vet.

Just like humans, your pet’s diet and exercise needs change periodically. Keep an eye on your dog’s activity levels, mood, and health, and then adjust accordingly.

5. Check with Your Veterinarian

When in doubt about how much food to give your dog, you should always consult and check with your veterinarian. They are the experts and know your dog well and will be able to give recommendations based on their knowledge and observations of your pet. Find a good veterinarian you can trust and then let them guide you to knowing how much food to give your pet each day.

It all Starts with Healthy Dog Food for Your Pup

You should now have a better idea of the proper dog food serving size for your pet and how much to feed your dog. Many factors go into the decision and it’s not a task you should take lightly. The proper nutrition will keep your dog living a healthy and rewarding life. We encourage you to check out The Honest Kitchen’s dog food products if you’re looking for the best dog food on the market to feed your pet. As a pet owner, you can search by your dog’s life stage, favorite ingredients, health benefits, and more.

Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet’s veterinarian or other healthcare professionals for specific guidance on this topic.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika, CDT, CABC

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant as well as the founder and co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in northern San Diego county. Liz is also the founder of Love on a Leash therapy dogs; her dog, Bones, goes on visits on a regular basis. A prolific writer, Liz is also the author of more than 80 books. Many of her works have been nominated or won awards from a variety of organizations, including Dog Writers Association of America, San Diego Book Awards, the ASPCA, and others. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk. To relax from work, or to take work on the road, Liz and her crew travel the West and PNW in their RV. If you see an RV on the road named "Travelin' Dogs", honk and say hi!

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