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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

How Much Food Should I Be Feeding My Dog?

By Bridget Reed


Every dog has different nutritional needs, and figuring out the right amount of food to keep your dog healthy is key. Even if you have a great dog food, your dog can remain unhealthy if they aren’t getting food in the right quantities.

Your dog might be willing to eat anything you put in front of them, but just because they have an appetite doesn’t mean they should keep getting more food. Overeating and undereating can harm your pet, but we’re here to help you figure out the right amount of dog food to keep your pup happy and well.

Keeping your dog on a regular feeding schedule is important to ensure consistency. If you’re uncertain about your dog’s diet or worried about how much your dog eats, you should talk to your vet — they’ll help identify any underlying health problems and guide you toward the correct caloric intake for your dog.

With these guidelines in mind, let’s look at the best amount of food for your dog’s dietary needs. We’ll cover the consequences of getting the wrong quantity of food for your pet and the standard portions of most pet food brands. 

Keep reading to find out the best portions of food for your dog.

What Happens if I Don’t Feed My Dog the Right Amount?

Getting the right portion size for your pup is critical to keeping them at an ideal weight. Though the range may be pretty wide, overfeeding or underfeeding is something you should avoid because the consequences can be severe.

Underfeeding can result in weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, while overfeeding at mealtimes can lead to obesity. 

On its own, obesity is not necessarily dangerous to your pet, but it can lead to serious conditions, including:

  • Congestive heart failure. Your dog’s heart may struggle to supply adequate blood to the rest of their body
  • Skin disease. Bacteria can build up in the extra skin folds caused by obesity
  • Arthritis. The cartilage in your dog’s joints can deteriorate due to the pressure from excess weight
  • Other musculoskeletal issues. The increased pressure and weight of obesity can cause joint pain and discomfort
  • Breathing problems. Excess fat buildup can impede airways
  • Lowered life expectancy. Obesity can decrease life expectancyby up to two years

As you can see, obese dogs frequently face many challenges that would otherwise be avoidable. For this reason, choosing the correct portion sizes to feed your dog is one of the most significant ways you can support their health and prevent disease and illness.

How Much Food Does My Puppy Need?

Puppies have different nutritional needs and energy levels than adult dogs, so it’s important to choose a puppy food to support their growth. Specifically, puppies require more protein, phosphorous, calcium, and fat to give them the energy they need. These ingredients also assist in developing strong bones and muscles as your puppy reaches adulthood.

Here’s the scoop on puppy food: every dog is different, and small breed dogs require less food than large breed dogs. However, you should generally feed young puppies four times a day, switching to three meals a day around the six-to-eight month mark.

The exact amount of food your puppy requires depends heavily on their breed and can vary from less than a cup per day to over eight cups daily. With that range, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how much food to give your dog.

We recommend peeking at your dog’s dry food bag or can, which should have a feeding chart and feeding guidelines listing how much food your dog will need based on their adult weight and current age. If you’re unsure how much food is right for your puppy, asking your vet is a great way to get started.

If you’re unsure what kind of food to give your puppy, we have some good news. At Optimeal®, we’ve developed many recipes for every puppy to enjoy. Meat is our first ingredient, and the nutrients included in every bag will support your young pup’s digestion, growth, and brain development.

How Much Food Does My Adult Dog Need?

When your adult dog finally grows into their big puppy paws, you might wonder if their diet needs to grow too. 

We recommend swapping your dog to an adult maintenance food when they reach full maturity, but it’s not always easy to figure out how much to give your adult dog.

On the bright side, plenty of food calculators are available to figure out what kind of diet is best for your dog. However, you can’t rely on a precise number without considering your dog’s unique circumstances and activity level.

For example, suppose you have an unusually active, highly energetic young labrador. In that case, you might want to increase the calories you feed them to ensure they’re getting everything they need. 

On the other hand, if your elderly bulldog is becoming a bit of a couch potato, you might decrease the amount of food in their bowl to keep them from over-eating.

As a baseline, a healthy 50-pound dog should consume approximately 1200 calories daily. The number of cups of dry food will vary based on the nutritional density of each type.

Remember that being neutered or spayed decreases your dog’s calorie requirements, so you might need to decrease the amount of food in their bowl after the procedure.

If you’re searching for great food for your medium or large dog, we recommend our Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe. It’s optimized to support your dog’s skin and digestion while also supporting their immune system.

If you have a smaller dog, our Lamb & Rice Recipe is a great choice that provides your pup with plenty of energy while supporting healthy skin and a shiny coat.

You can explore the full variety of Optimeal’s® Premium Dog Food here!

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Getting Enough Food?

As your dog changes and grows, their activity levels and energy use can also change. You might find that the same amount of food is suddenly too much or too little for your dog.

If you’re not sure whether your dog is getting enough food, we recommend asking your vet whether your dog is overweight, underweight, or at a healthy weight for their breed and age. Depending on your dog’s body condition score, you can increase or decrease the amount of food you put in your dog’s bowl.

It’s also possible to examine your dog and get a quick, general idea of their current state of health. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Hourglass-Shaped: When viewed from above, most dogs should have a wider chest and hips, with a narrow abdomen between. If your dog’s tummy is wider than their chest, you might consider reducing their calorie intake.
  • Tucked Up: When viewed from the side, their belly should be “tucked up” higher than their chest. If your pup’s belly sags under their chest, you might want to reconsider the amount of kibble they’re currently getting and cut back if necessary. (If you ever notice considerable bloat and their lower abdomen is protruded much further out than usual, combined with discomfort to the touch, labored breathing, and gagging without vomiting, this may be a medical emergency called bloat — call your local emergency clinic for further guidance). 
  • Rib Check: Your dog’s ribs should not be individually visible, but if you run a finger over their chest and upper abdomen area, you should be able to feel each rib with only a slight amount of pressure. If your dog’s ribs are hard to feel, you might want to feed them a little less. However, if each rib is visible through their skin, you might want to increase the amount of food in their bowl.

These guidelines may not apply to every dog and every situation. However, they are a reliable way to check if your dog’s weight is where it should be. When in doubt, consult your vet for a more specific test of your dog’s health.

Just the Right Amount of Dog Food

We know it’s not always easy to determine your pup's needs. When it comes to dog food, there’s always a possibility of getting the wrong amount and accidentally impacting your pet. 

However, with prompt attention and guidance from a vet, it’s simple to correct any mistakes and get your dog back on track. Whether overweight, underweight, or somewhere in the middle, every dog can benefit from the right food fed in the right quantities.

You can't go wrong if you keep giving your dog plenty of walks and opportunities for exercise, sharing healthy treats in small amounts, and sticking to a nutritious and reliable dog food.


Puppy Feeding Fundamentals | American Kennel Club

Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount? | PetMD

How Much Should I Feed My Dog? | American Kennel Club

Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs — What It Is and How it's Treated – American Kennel Club

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