Because dry food doesn't spoil when left out, you might be tempted to leave out a feeder full of it for your pup. Unfortunately, he may take this as a cue to stuff himself silly all day. Prevent problems with obesity by regulating his portions instead.
The amount of calories your pup needs each day is primarily based upon his size, age and activity level. The National Research Council of the National Academies recommends that the average active pooch needs around 25 to 30 calories per pound of weight each day. A less active or older dog needs approximately 25 percent fewer calories each day than an active one. For example, an active 30-pound adult dog needs approximately 922 calories each day, but an inactive one needs only about 674 calories. Puppies and pregnant and nursing dogs need around twice as many calories as adults.
Dry Food Amounts
To find out the amount of calories contained in the dry kibble you are feeding your furry buddy, check the package. This information should be listed there along with the feeding recommendations of the manufacturer. The calories contained in dry food varies according to what it contains, usually averaging around 350 to 375 calories per cup, according to VetInfo. Note that some brands of food can contain over 500 calories per cup, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Before feeding your pup, measure out his daily portion using a measuring cup to ensure the proper amount. Divide this amount in two and feed half the portion in the morning and half in the evening. This way your pup won't stuff himself in one feeding, becoming hungry later in the day.
Right for Your Dog
The recommendations of the manufacturer of your pup's food and that of the NRC are simply guidelines. Your pup may differ in his nutritional needs based on his activity level and health. If your pooch participates in dog shows, she may need 20 percent more than the recommended amount for her weight, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Hardworking pups like police, rescue, service or cattle dogs can even require up to 70 percent more calories than their civilian counterparts. To determine what is right for your particular dog, consult with your vet regarding your pooch's body type and activity level for recommendations specific to your furry buddy.
When determining how much dry food to feed your pup each day, take into account any additional foods you are giving him. For example, if you give him any canned food, factor the calories from those meals into his daily allowance and feed him less dry food. Remember, treats count too, so keep these to a minimum: they won't give him the proper nutrition contained in his dry food. Monitor your pup's body shape—if you can clearly see his bones and he seems hungry, he likely needs more food. If he is rotund and you can't feel his ribs through his skin, he may be overweight and need his portions reduced. Before making any changes to your pup's diet, always consult with your veterinarian, especially if your pooch needs to be on a weight-loss diet.
- Cesar's Way: Dog Nutrition: A to Z
- National Research Council of the National Academies: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs [PDF]
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: Dry Dog Food Calorie Count [PDF]
- WebMD: Best Dog Food Choices
- VetInfo: How Much Dog Food Should I Feed My Labrador?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Feeding Your Adult Dog
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
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