Sometimes, you ask a question and all you want is a straight answer. However, when it comes to the question: ‘How much should I feed my dog?’, the answer is rather complicated.
Every dog is an individual and how much you should feed them depends on all manner of factors including breed, age and activity level.
Of course, all pet food has a guide on the packaging, which can steer you in the right direction – but remember that this is just a guide and not a definitive answer.
A recipe for disaster?
The worst thing you can do is ‘guestimate’ the right amount of food. Giving your dog a little more than they need, along with too many treats and some leftovers from your own dinner, is a recipe for disaster. If this is a regular pattern, you run the risk of your dog becoming overweight, which can lead to all manner of health problems. Equally, if you don’t feed enough, your pet will not be getting all the nutrients they need and will become underweight. If you’re not sure about how much to feed, ask your vet for advice.
IS MY DOG THE CORRECT WEIGHT?
Regular weigh-ins at the vets can help keep your dog’s weight in check. Your vet will also be able to advise of the correct weight range for your dog.
In general, dogs who are at a healthy weight:
- Have an ‘hourglass’ figure when looked down upon from above. The abdomen should be narrower than the chest and hips.
- Are ‘tucked up’ when looked at from the side. This means that a dog’s chest is closer to the ground than his belly when he or she is standing.
- Have ribs that are not readily visible but are easily felt with only light pressure.
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association has a handy Dog Size-O-Meter, which you can check out here >>
How many meals should I feed a day?
Then there’s the question of how often to feed your dog. Puppies, with their small stomachs need three or four small meals a day, while adult dogs generally have two meals a day. Sometimes, elderly dogs benefit from three or four smaller meals. The key to avoiding over-feeding is to ensure you measure out their daily ration – don’t guess it – and then divide it up throughout the day. If you feed treats for training or when out on walks, this should also be taken into account.
HOW MUCH IS JUST RIGHT? START BY FOLLOWING THIS BURGESS GUIDE
These amounts are based on what you should feed a healthy, active adult dog over a 24-hour period if you’re feeding Burgess Supadog Adult. Remember to adjust as necessary, depending on your dog’s appetite, age and activity level.
5-15kg – 135-300g
15-30kg – 300-480g
30-40kg – 480-600g
40-70kg – 600-850g
Choosing the right food
Along with portion control, it’s also important to feed the right food for your dog. Dog food has never been better researched with recipes created using the latest in nutritional science to calculate the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats. The amounts of these ingredients that your dog requires throughout the various stages of their life can change – a puppy needs a different blend than an elderly dog – so this is something else to think about. Find out more feeding life stage foods here >>
DID YOU KNOW?
A quality complete dog food contains a correct balance of all the nutrients your canine companion needs – human food doesn’t contain all of these essential nutrients in the right amounts.
Another consideration is choosing a food and that suits your dog’s lifestyle. For example, a well-exercised pet Border Collie may be classed as a ‘working breed’, but he or she will not require the same nutrition as an actual working Collie who’s running about on a farm all day long.
Burgess has a great range of complete dog food, with something to suit every dog. Find the perfect food for your canine pal here >>
SOME EXTRA TIPS
- Make sure your dog always has plenty of fresh, clean water available and, if you are feeding a dry food, you’ll find they’ll need a little more.
- When introducing a new food to your dog, you should do it gradually to avoid upsetting their digestion. Mix in the new food with the old over a period of 7 to 10 days until the new food completely replaces the old diet.
- Remember that treats should be just that – something special, fed occasionally, in small amounts. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet.
What foods should you avoid?
Here are some of the main foods that are dangerous for dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten any of the following, consult your vet immediately.
- Alcoholic beverages
Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.
- Chocolate, coffee, tea
Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline, which can be toxic and affect the heart and nervous system.
- Fat trimmings
Can cause pancreatitis.
- Pits from peaches and plums
Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.
- Grapes and raisins
Contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
If made from meat juices, it can contain high levels of fat, which can cause pancreatitis.
- Large amounts of liver
Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.
- Macadamia nuts
Contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.
- Milk and other dairy products
Some adult dogs do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhoea.
- Mouldy or spoiled food
Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhoea and can also affect other organs.
Can contain toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.
- Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)
Contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. Garlic is less toxic than onions.
- Potato, rhubarb, and tomato leaves; potato and tomato stems
Contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems. This is more of a problem in livestock.
- Raw eggs
Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain salmonella.
- Raw fish
Can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. More common if raw fish is fed regularly.
- Excessive salt
If eaten in large quantities, it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.
- Sugary foods
Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.
- Table scraps (in large amounts)
Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced and if excessively fed can lead to obesity. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.
This artificial sweetener sneaks its way into all sorts of foods – from peanut butter to jellies and jams and is highly toxic to canines. After a dog consumes a significant amount of xylitol, there is a massive release of insulin from the pancreas. This, in turn, results in a dangerously low blood sugar level and symptoms such as weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death.
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Dog nutrition Q&A with our vet
Dr Suzanne Moyes explains exactly what’s involved in producing nutritious, no-nonsense dog food from Yorkshire!