Often a hot topic amongst dog owners, in this blog, we’re going to talk about how much you really should be feeding your dog. With so many different forms of dog food available to suit so many different breeds and activity levels, this subject is not as straightforward as it sounds. Obesity is a real problem nowadays; in fact, the most recent figures published by the British Veterinary Association, in 2016, stated that over 60% of dogs in the UK are very overweight.
So how much is too much?
The four factors which should determine this amount are – breed / size, activity, age and lifestyle.
From the moment you bring your new puppy home, you are in control of how their diet affects them as they grow. As a general rule, from the age of 8 weeks to around 12 weeks puppy will need 4 meals a day, from 12 weeks to 6 months 3 meals a day then 2 meals per day after this dropping down to one as the dog approaches adulthood. Be sure to stick to the same food and not too many treats to avoid excess calorie intake and possibly stomach upsets. If you find your puppy is becoming overweight or is defecating excessively these are signs they’re eating too much! The age at which you can switch from puppy/junior food to adult food varies according to breed, with small breeds making the transition at around 8-10 months and large breeds at around 12-18 months.
Breed / size
Diet and portion control is a crucial factor according to the size and in some circumstances breed of your dog. Different breeds of the same size can have differing energy needs as a result of tier build. In addition, large breed dogs may benefit from a food which supports and protects growing joints. Most pet food labels have a feeding/weight guide, but these are only general guidelines. A Chihuahua and a Great Dane, two extremes for example, have very different nutritional needs which influence their condition and development, so the best way to determine whether your pooch is eating the correct amounts is to use your own judgement and observations in conjunction with a body condition score chart To help you to find out what the feeding guidelines are for your dog check out https://www.pfma.org.uk/dog-calorie-calculator.
Activity and Lifestyle
Once your dog reaches adulthood, a significant factor in setting their daily diet concerns how active they are. Not all breeds conform to a stereotype; for instance, speed merchants like Greyhounds can be utter couch potatoes in the home; tiny toy terriers can be absolute whirlwinds! Too much or too little food can have dire consequences for dogs of all breeds, as can the wrong type of food. Have the confidence to adjust the amounts fed each day to keep an ideal body condition score (BCS). Early signs that your dog is eating too much or too little relate to their appearance (BCS) . Look at them from above – they should have a waist, and if you go in slightly behind the ribcage; you should be able to feel ribs, but not see them. Their coat should be glossy and free from dandruff, and energy levels should be constant for his breed. If your dog is lethargic, hyperactive or he looks out of condition, this could mean a food intolerance. Hypoallergenic dog food could help.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight or health, it is always a good idea to consult your vet, but simply keeping an eye on portion control and feeding your dog the right food for their breed, activity levels, age and size can only serve to help them have a happy, healthy life.