top of page

How to Feed your Dog


All pet foods are required to provide feeding directions on the label. The regulations suggest that the simple instructions showing the amount to feed in cups or weight to a given size of dog is provided conspicuously on every package of food.

Unfortunately feeding directions can be very misleading. Feeding directions are guidelines and should only be used as a guideline.

Dogs generally eat enough food to meet their energy needs. If the food is nutrient dense, providing a high number of kilo calories (KC) per cup, the dog will need to eat less of the food to meet energy requirement.

One of the main problems is that most dogs feeding directions are calculated based on an average dog or puppy. The formula used to calculate the energy requirement of this theoretical dog is approximately 132 kilo calories (KC) of metabolized energy per kilogram of body weight to the 0.75 power. Allowances are made for growth.

Since these are average figures, and since no two dogs are the same, it is apparent why feeding directions can be so misleading. Your dog is unlikely to fit the average.

Another unfortunate fact is that the marketing departments use feeding directions as a marketing gimmick. Some manufacturers as well as some misguided salespeople, try to use the feeding guide as a measure of quality by stating their product does not require so much food.

The best method of determining the proper feeding amount for your dog is to start with the recommended level on the package. Increase or decrease the amount by the way the dog should look. As an example, if you have a 20lb dog, eating 1 ½ cups per day of a new food, and he starts gaining weight, decrease the feeding level to 1 cup. Conversely, if the same dog began to lose weight you should increase his daily intake to 2 cups.

How many times a day?

All puppies and young dogs up to the age of 12 months should be feed 3 meals a day. Adult dogs from 12 months to 8 years should be fed 2 meals a day. Dogs from the age of 8 years should be fed three small meals a day.

Care should be taken not to overfeed any animal, either puppies, adults or older dogs. Overweight animals almost always have more health problems than proper weight dogs. If you have any problem as to what your dog's ideal weight should be, ask your vet to help you.


Reward (Treat) based Training

Modern day methods of dog training generally are reward based. The simple premise being that when the dog does what you want, the dog is rewarded. Inevitably the usual reward is food. This can be the same as their daily meal or it may be a “treat” such as cheese or sausage.

The problem is that you can very quickly end up with an overweight dog because of the “extra” food you are giving.

The general recommendation is that you should use about 20% of your dog’s daily food allowance as rewards during training.

bottom of page