Nutrition Series: How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Submitted by Veterinary Wellness Partners on Tue, 10/13/2015 - 11:33am

This is another question that is asked a lot during appointments.  The scientific answer to this question involves several formulas.  First, we must calculate Metabolic Energy Requirements (MER), which is based upon Resting Energy Requirements (RER).  

RER can be calculated using a formula of 70 x Body weight (in Kg).  This will yield a number of kcal per day.

The MER is then calculated using RER multiplied by another number based upon the signalment of your dog. 

  • Neutered Adult:  1.6 x RER
  • Intact Adult:  1.8 x RER
  • Obese Adult: 1.4 x RER
  • Weight Loss: 1 x RER
  • Pregnancy: 1.8 x RER for first 42 days, then 3 x RER for the last 21 days
  • Lactation: 3-6 x RER (depending on the number of puppies)
  • Growth: 2-3 x RER

So now that we covered the scientific method, here are some general guidelines.  

Commercial dog foods will have a feeding chart on the back, which can guide you along in determining how much to feed your dog.  The chart will be in one of two formats.  The first will simply say __ cups per day.  The other will give a scale/ range of ____ to ____ cups per day.  In these instances, the feeding recommendations are based upon intact animals.  For neutered animals (which includes both spayed females and castrated males), these charts and recommendations are too high.  In general, a neutered animal should be fed at the lower end of the scale or about 80-85% of the number of recommended cups per day that is recommended.  

I, Dr. Fink, try to keep things simple.  I have an 80 pound, neutered dog.  He eats roughly 4 cups per day (divided into two feedings).  At this level of food, he has gotten just a little overweight, so we cut that amount back to 3 3/4 cups per day.  I often use this guideline to advise approximately 1 cup per 20 pounds of body weight, though that is not a hard, fast rule.  It should also be noted that I do not give my dog many treats.  Treats must be considered in the overall formula/ equation when figuring out total kcal fed per day.  

When figuring how much to feed your dog, the cups referred to as a measurement above is a standard 8 ounce measuring cup.  If you need one, you can stop in and ask.  We often have some that we can hand out.  If you have further questions, please give the clinic a call.

Nutrition Series, part one.  What should I feed my dog?