How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Knowing how much to feed your dog is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping your dog happy and healthy. While there are many factors that go into how much exactly you should feed your dog, learning more about the different criteria will help you have a better understanding of how much food your dog should eat and why.

These guidelines, as with all feeding guidelines, are meant to serve as a starting point. Always consult your vet when determining how much food to feed your dog.

Evaluation Criteria

The two main criteria to consider when determining how much to feed your dog are portions by weight and portions by age. Taking your dog’s weight into consideration is important when determining how much food to feed them is important because a five-pound Yorkie is going to be eating significantly less food than a 150-pound Great Dane. 

Portions by age are also important. Since puppies grow so fast, their nutritional needs include things like more calories and carbohydrates to keep up with their quick growth. For this reason, puppies require more food than you’d expect in order to get enough calories in their diet. As an example, a 10-20 pound puppy would eat a similar amount of our UNREFINED Smoked Salmon dog food as a 20-40 pound adult dog!

Another important criteria is portions by type of food–the amount of wet dog food you feed is going to be much different than the amount of dry dog food you feed because the composition of the food is much different, so the feeding guidelines typically look very different.

By Weight 

The size and weight of your pup is an important consideration when it comes to how much to feed your dog. Small breed dogs have smaller stomachs, so while they eat less food their food is typically much more calorie-dense. For a five-pound dog, the feeding chart on the back of our Small Breed recipe recommends ½ a cup of kibble. Since Small Breed is 400 kcal/cup, even ½ cup of kibble gives them 200 calories per day. 

On the other hand, our Large Breed formula is 360 kcal/cup and the feeding chart recommends 4 cups of food a day for a 70 pound dog, which gives them 1,440 calories per day. Their stomachs are much larger, so they can handle more food at a time but they also require more calories for their large bodies.

A bag of UNREFINED dog food sits next to a full bowl and a bag of dog treats

By Age

Calories are an important consideration as your dog ages because you want to make sure that you’re not overfeeding and causing your dog to gain more weight than necessary, especially as they approach their senior years. As mentioned earlier, puppies generally need more calories than adult or senior dogs because they need more calories to keep up with their quick growth. For this reason, puppies sometimes will need more food than adult dogs of the same size. 

A senior dog, however, will typically need less calories due to typically less physical activity. Overfeeding your senior dog can also lead to weight gain, which is hard on their already aging joints. For this reason, a low-calorie food is typically the best option for senior dogs as they mature, as long as you’re mindful of your dog’s weight over time to make sure they stay at a healthy weight. Our favorite formula for seniors is our Weight Control formula because it’s low-calorie to keep your pup at an ideal weight and has glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support joint health. 

Type of Food

As mentioned earlier, the portions for dry dog food are very different from the portions for wet dog food. Feeding guidelines, which we’ll discuss later, are also different between wet food and dry food. For dry food, the amount of food you should feed is typically measured in cups. For wet food, though, the feeding guidelines will look something like this:

Feed adult dogs one 13 oz. container pet 13-15 pounds of body weight daily, depending on activity level. When feeding with dry product, one container of K95 dog food replaces approximately ¾ cup dry dog food. Have clean, fresh water available at all times.

Portions for wet dog food are based on how much of the container you should feed your dog based on their body weight. Also, when using wet dog food as a mixer and topper it changes the amount of both wet food and dry food you should be feeding, so make sure to keep this in mind.

Dog Food Portion Charts

While this seems like it’s a lot of information to consider, the good news is all of this information is easily accessible on the dog food label. All dog food labels should include dog food portion charts, or feeding charts, to give you an idea of how much of that particular food you should be feeding. The charts will include a food portions chart by weight and, if the food is formulated for puppies, also a food portions chart by age. 

An example of a dog food feeding chart

An important thing to note is that this is how much you should be feeding your dog per day, so don’t forget to divide this amount by how many times you feed your dog daily!

Weight Management

If you get to a point where you notice your dog is gaining weight more than they should, you may need to pay closer attention to how much food you’re feeding them and also how many calories are in their food. Extra weight can be harmful on your pet’s joints and cause other health issues, so switching to a weight management dog food may be your best option to stop any potential health problems in their tracks. 

How Many Times a Day?

How many times a day you feed your dog depends on your dog’s age, breed, and activity level, but in general your dog should be fed twice a day. For large breed dogs that require more calories or quickly growing puppies, you may find that you need to split their food into three or four meals. No matter how often you choose to feed though, find a schedule that works for you and your dog’s lifestyles and stick to it. Try to avoid free-feeding, as this can contribute to overeating and obesity.

A dog licks a bag of Earthborn Holistic dog treats

Treats

When it comes to how many dog treats a day, it’s recommended that treats not take up more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. For example, if you have a dog that eats 500 calories a day in food, you shouldn’t feed them more than 50 calories a day in treats. 

Just like food, the labels on dog treat bags also have nutrition information, so look for the calorie content. On our EarthBites Cheese Flavor treats, the calorie content is 6 kcal/treat so for a dog that eats 500 calories a day, you shouldn’t give them more than 8 of these treats a day. 

As you can tell, the easiest answer to, “How much should I feed my dog?” is, “It depends.” However, learning about the different factors that go into how much food your dog should eat on a daily basis and talking with your vet to nail down specifics is the best way to make sure your pup is getting the best nutrition possible to keep them happy and healthy.