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How Much Should a Dog Eat: The Importance of Portion Control in Feeding Your Dog

A dog eating from its food bowl


According to a 2016 study, “Obesity is a common disease of modern dogs and cats. Dog and cat owners often do not realise their animal is affected. Some pet owners are skeptical of the diagnosis or rationalise the overweight condition of their pets.” [1] But if you want your furry pal to live a long and healthy life, it is important to keep them at a healthy weight. How can you do that? By using portion control to limit the calories they take in every day.

Calculate How Many Calories They Need Daily

You can either use the chart on the side of the food bag or one of the many calculators available online to decide how much to feed your dog. The online calculators take many factors into account, such as age, activity level, breed, gender, etc. so they probably will do a more accurate job.

Give Them a Healthy, Nutritious Food

Caloric intake is just one thing you need to be aware of. You need to make sure that you are giving your doggo quality food–food that has the right nutrients for your dog. There are also many micronutrients that cheaper dog food does not contain. So if you want a healthy dog, read the label on your dog’s food to make sure that they are getting all that they require.

Don’t Forget to Measure

People frequently estimate the amount of food that they are putting in their four-legged friend’s bowl. And too often, they overestimate the amount that they give their furry pal. “The volume of kibble measured by each dog owner was weighed on an electronic scale and compared to the correct weight. The results revealed substantial inaccuracies in kibble measurements, ranging from 48 percent too little to 152 percent too much dog food.” [2] That means some dogs were getting half portions and others were getting more than double! So you can see that measuring accurately is important.

Limit Their Snacks and Treats

Measuring accurately won’t make much difference if you then feed your dog a lot of table scraps or give them high calorie treats throughout the day. Keep an eye on the “fun” food that you feed your furry friend and make sure that you are giving them small, low-cal treats as rewards. Then remember to deduct those calories from the food that you are already giving them so that they stay under their daily caloric limit.

Keep Them Active

Burning calories is important too. Your dog needs regular workouts, so take them for a couple walks every day and try to work in a couple of high energy play sessions as well. Not only will this help keep your dog fit and trim, but it will improve their heart and lung health, build and maintain muscle, improve joint health, and–most importantly–strengthen the bond that you have with your favorite furry friend!

[1] Scope of the Problem and Perception by Owners and Veterinarians
[2] Measuring Pet Food Correctly