How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog?

Knowing how much food a dog should eat a day 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.

Why It’s Important to Understand How Much Food to Feed a Dog

Understanding how much food to feed a dog is important for several reasons. The first being the nutrients your dog receives from their food. If you’re accidentally underfeeding your dog, they could be missing out on some of the nutrients they need which could lead to a variety of health issues.

If you’re overfeeding your dog, their food and nutrients could be unbalanced and could lead to similar or different health issues that could arise as a result of underfeeding. On top of that, weight gain and obesity become major concerns as well, as overfeeding is the number one cause of obesity in dogs and while it’s preventable, it often happens because pet owners just don’t know how much to feed.

Another important note to take into consideration is that while the feeding guidelines on your dog’s food bag is a wonderful starting point to figure out how much to feed, it shouldn’t be the only thing you reference when determining how much to scoop into your dog’s bowl every day. Depending on your dog’s activity levels, preexisting health conditions, and even the climate you live in your dog could require more or less of certain nutrients their food provides.

For example, if you have a relatively lower-calorie food that you’re feeding to a dog that goes on daily walks, does agility classes twice a week, and has a big yard to run around in, feeding them based on the feeding guidelines on their food might lead to you underfeeding if your dog actually requires more calories and nutrients due to your lifestyle.

The opposite can be true as well–if you have a high-calorie food that you’re feeding to an older dog who loves to lay around the house for most of the day, going off of the feeding guidelines on the bag probably would have you overfeeding and could quickly lead to obesity. For this reason, it’s super important to check with your vet to take all aspects of your dog’s lifestyle into account when determining how much they should eat at mealtime.

How Much Should My Dog Be Eating? Evaluation Criteria You Need to Know

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 criterion involved 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.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog By Weight? 

“How much should my dog be eating?” “How much food should I give my dog?” When it comes to answering these questions, you must first know how big or little your dog is and understand how that factors into how much food they’ll need.

The size and weight of your pup are important considerations 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 Primitive Naturals recipe recommends ½ a cup of kibble.

On the other hand, our Coastal Catch formula is 365 kcal/cup and the feeding chart recommends 4 cups of food a day for a 70-pound dog, which gives them 1,460 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.

Two dogs sit with bags of dog food on both sides of them

How Much Should I Feed My Overweight Dog?

Some people think that just lowering the amount of food they feed their overweight dog will help them lose weight, but this isn’t always the best option. When it comes to overweight or obese dogs, what to feed an overweight dog is typically a more important question than how much food you should feed an overweight dog. If your dog is overweight, simply feeding less of their current food could lead to an imbalance or lack of important nutrients.

Instead, you’ll want to pay closer attention to what’s actually in your dog’s food. How many calories are in the food? What is the fat content? Is the main protein a lean protein source like turkey? If your dog’s new food is lower in calories, there’s a chance you could end up feeding them the same amount as their old food and still help them lose weight. Again, always check with your vet before switching foods and especially before starting your dog on any kind of weight loss plan.

How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog Daily? Understanding the Role of 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. 

How Much to Feed a Dog Based on Wet and Dry Food Types

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.

How to Use a Dog Food Feeding Chart

While this may seem like 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 dog 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 dog feeding 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!

How Much Should You Feed a Dog for Proper 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. But how much should you feed a dog that maybe weighs a few more pounds than they probably should? Extra weight can be harmful on your pet’s joints and cause other health issues, so switching to a weight management dog food in addition to having a conversation with your vet about how many calories your dog should be eating per day may be your best option to stop any potential health problems in their tracks. 

How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Dogs?

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.

Dog lays head on two bags of dog food

How Much Do I Feed My Dog in Terms of 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 Chewy with Bison treats, the calorie content is 10 kcal/treat so for a dog that eats 500 calories a day, you shouldn’t give them more than 5 of these treats a day. 

As you can tell, the easiest answer to, “How much do 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.