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How Much To Feed Your Dog

If you're not sure how much to feed your dog or puppy, this page has all the information you need to get it right.

Bowl containing dog food

Most of us worry about choosing the best food for our dogs..... but it's also very important to think about how much food Fido needs.

I can't overstate the importance of feeding a premium, high quality dog food, because diet plays a hugely important role in your puppy's (or dog's) health. It can even affect how long he or she lives.

Did you know that the quality of the food you give your pet, directly affects HOW MUCH of it he needs to eat?

Generic or low-quality foods don't contain nearly as much nutrition per cup as the premium foods do, so your dog needs to eat more of them to get his nutritional needs met.

Unfortunately this also means that there's going to be more waste (because poorly formulated foods contain a lot of fillers and 'junk' which your pet can't digest) and that's going to be coming out the other end of your dog in the form of more poop!

Because of the wide variety of nutritional value in dog foods, there's no one-size-fits-all answer that will tell you how much to feed your dog, but there are some simple, reliable formulas that you can use.

Calculating How Much Food Your Dog Needs

There's no 'one-size-fits-all' answer to the question of how much dogs eat!

There are approximately four cups to every pound of dog food, but while one cup of dog food is approximately the same volume regardless of brand, the actual nutritional makeup of each food is different.

How much food your dog needs to eat depends on:

  • Age
  • Breed and/or size
  • Health
  • Activity level

The label on your dog food (or puppy food) bag will show 'Feeding Guidelines', and these are usually calculated according to the age/weight of your pet. The recommendations will vary depending on the specific food you're using, because each dog food has it's own individual nutritional makeup.

Although these guidelines are a good 'jumping off point', but all puppies and dogs are different and what works for one dog may not work for another.

The best way to make sure you know how much to feed your puppy or dog is to know how many calories he needs each day.

Luckily, this isn't as difficult as it sounds.....

how many calories does your dog need?

Nutritionists have devised a formula called the 'Resting Energy Requirements' (aka 'RER') to calculate how many calories dogs need on a daily basis.

You can use this formula yourself to figure out how much to feed your own pet, but do bear in mind that it's a very 'generic' formula, created to meet the needs of an 'average' dog... and most dogs aren't average!

To work out how many calories your dog needs, follow this formula...

Your dog's weight in kg  X 30 + 70 = required daily calorie intake

If you're not sure of your dog's weight in kg, you can use this calculator to convert his weight from pounds to kilograms.....

Pounds to Kilograms Weight Converter

Weight Converter

Type a value in the Pounds field to convert the value to Kilograms:


Once you know how many kg your dog weighs, do the calculation as shown above, then take a close look at the food you are using and see how many kcal/cup it contains (this info. should be on the label, where the feeding instructions are).

When you know how many calories your dog needs, AND how many calories there are in one cup of food, it's easy to figure out how many cups to feed!

Here's a quick example calculated for a dog who weighs 20 lbs (or 9.7kg):

9.7 X 30 + 70 = 361 .... so your 20lb dog needs approx 361 calories per day.

If you're using a food that supplies around 460 calories per cup, feed him about 3/4 cup of food per day, divided into two meals.

BUT REMEMBER this is a guideline only, your own dog may need more or less.

Different Strokes For Different.... Dogs!

The guidelines for how much to feed your dog that are given above are calculated based on an adult dog, of an average size, and with an average activity level.

Older dog looking at dog food in his bowl

It doesn't work for dogs who are younger, older, overweight, extremely active, or who have health conditions of one sort or another.

Puppies and very active dogs may need a calorie intake that is double that of your 'middle-aged', more sedentary dog.

BUT that doesn't mean that he needs twice as much food!

For example, if you're trying to work out how much to feed your dog if he's still a pup or adolescent, a double helping of adult food won't provide the balance of nutrients that he needs.

You need to choose a food specifically designed for a puppy (and preferably one that is size/breed appropriate).

How Much To Feed Your Puppy

Puppies are growing at a phenomenal rate and their bodies have very specific dietary needs.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy eating puppy food

Large and giant breed pups have different needs to those of the small or tiny breeds.

Mid-sized (or average) puppies fall somewhere in between.

When choosing a puppy food for large breed youngsters, it should contain protein levels somewhere between 23 and 25%, fat between 12 and 15% and calcium between 1.2 and 1.5%

Small or tiny breed puppies need more calories because their metabolism is much faster and their tummies smaller.

Look for protein to be a minimum of 25% and fat a minimum of 15%.

A medium sized pup needs protein to be somewhere between 22 and 29% and fat between 8 and 14%.

Their calorie intake will generally be about twice that of an adult dog of the same weight. So you can use the above RER calculation, but multiply the end figure by two.

Luckily, there are a wide variety of puppy foods that are specifically formulated for puppies who are considered 'large' or 'small' breeds.

They make it easy for you to how much to feed your puppy and to make sure that he gets exactly what he needs to grow up big (or not so big!) and strong.

You can find all the information you need on the very best puppy foods available today (including reviews and nutritional values) on my Puppy Food Reviews page.

How Much Food Do Pregnant/Nursing Dogs Need?

If you want to know how much to feed your dog who is pregnant or nursing, just double the calories she would normally need (but also allow for an increase in her weight and adjust accordingly).

Remember that pregnant and nursing females also need extra water so always keep that water bowl full!

Find out what else your girl needs to have a healthy pregnancy here.. Dog Pregnancy Guide

How Much To Feed Senior Dogs

How much to feed your dog who's a 'senior' and what to feed him, depends mainly on his health.

Some senior dogs are healthy and active, others are 'couch potatoes' or have health problems such as kidney or heart disease, diabetes etc.

Healthy seniors need a bit more protein than your average adult dog so that they can maintain healthy muscles.

Those with health problems may need specific nutritional supplements, or a variety of different adjustments.

Again there are a range of foods specifically designed for older dogs, or for particular health problems so it just takes a little bit of research and some browsing to find the best dog food for your 'old fella' or 'old lady'.

Check out this page to learn all about Senior Dog Nutrition, and  Dog Food for Senior Dogs to see some of the best dog food options for senior dogs. 

Feeding Overweight Dogs

Deciding how much to feed your dog if he's overweight can be a challenge!

We want our furry family members to be happy too, and depriving them of their favorite activity (eating!) is difficult at best.

How much to feed overweight dogs

However, canine obesity is on the rise and it carries with it some very serious health risks including joint/hip problems, heart conditions, diabetes and damage to other major organs.

A 'fat' dog is NOT a happy dog and it's very important to make sure that your pet stays lean and trim.

There are several foods on the market designed for 'weight control' and the premium brands in this category are always a good choice.

Look for reduced calories and fat and more fiber.

How Much To Feed Active Or Working Dogs

If your dog is highly active he will need extra calories.

How much to feed active dogs

This sometimes also applies to dogs who are a bit 'hyper' or very anxious or nervous because these behaviors also increase metabolic rate.

Look for foods high in easily-digestible protein and with above-average fat content.

If you want to know how much to feed your dog who is 'always on the go', expect his calorie intake be about twice that of your average, two-walks-a-day dog. (check out the information on how to calculate your dogs needs above to find out what would be an average calorie intake for your dog's weight)

Look for premium dog foods specifically formulated for active dogs.

Once you've figured out how much to feed your dog in terms of the calorie intake that's right for his age/breed/exercise level, here are some pages that will help you negotiate the 'dog food minefield' out there!

There are many, many dog and puppy food choices on the market, but not all of them will contain the quality ingredients that your puppy or dog needs, or in the right proportions.

It pays to do your research and make sure that you pick the right food for your pup or dog.

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