doggy banner

Dog Food -- How Much Should I Feed?


How much dog food to feed varies for individual dogs and according to age, health, and energy requirements. Every dog should be observed for weight gain or loss. Free-choice feeding is also known as "ad lib" feeding or "free feeding". Food is available at all times, as much as the pet wants and whenever the pet wants. Free feeding can lead to house training problems and spoiled food. Additionally, when leaving food out in the open all the time you may be inviting insects and other pests to be snacking at your dog's food bowl. It's best to feed at scheduled times. Always leave fresh cold water out for your dogs.


Adult Weight Dry Chow (Kibble) Canned Mixed with Dry
up to 10 pounds 1/3 to 1 cup 1/4 can + up to 3/4 cup dry
10 - 25 pounds 1 to 2 1/4 cups 1/2 can + 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups dry
25 - 50 pounds 2 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups 1 can + 1 to 2 1/2 cups
50 - 75 pounds 3 3/4 to 5 cups 1 1/2 cans + 1 3/4 to 3 cups
over 75 pounds 5 to 8 cups 2 cans + 2 1/2 to 5 1/4 cups


  • Feed your dog the same food 2 - 3 times a day. Unlike humans, a dog's digestive system cannot handle quick changes in food. It can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.
  • Feed your dog at the same time every day.
  • Don't worry if your dog's appetite changes. It is normal for your dog to lose his appetite or experience digestive upset occasionally, especially when puppies are teething. If your dog's upset stomach becomes severe or last longer than a day, contact your veterinarian.
  • In general, smaller breeds can start on adult food when they are a year old. Larger breeds should stay on puppy food until they are fully mature which is usually about 2 years of age. Ask your veterinarian when to switch your dog to adult food.
  • Keep food and water bowls clean and cool fresh water available at all times.
  • All dogs need separate food and water dishes. The bowls should be cleaned daily.
  • If you are mixing water to dry food you should mix 4 parts dry food to 1 part water.

How to Transition to a New Dog Food in 5 Days
When switching to a new food, gradually transition your dog to the new food by mixing portions of both foods until you slowly phase the old food out. A slow schedule will allow your dog to adjust to the new food without indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.

Day 1: Mix 20% new dog food with 80% old dog food.
Day 2: Mix 40% new dog food with 60% old dog food.
Day 3: Mix 60% new dog food with 40% old dog food.
Day 3: Mix 80% new dog food with 20% old dog food.
Day 5: Feed 100% of the new dog food brand.

switch food

How to Feed Rescue Dog Who Came with No Food
If you have adopted a new puppy or an older adult dog, most of the time your new furry friend came with a supply of dog food he was eating prior to you getting him home. It's easy to gradually transfer him from the old food to the new food. But, sometimes your new dog was given to you without the food he was eating before you got him.

dog feeding

When meal time arrives, put the appropriate amount of new dog food for his size into a bowl and put it on the floor. Act like nothing is unusual and give your dog about 15 minutes time to eat the new dog food. If you have other dogs who are happily eating, then your new dog will most likely figure the new dog food is a good thing and proceed to eat without a problem.

If by chance, your new dog turns his nose up and decides to play "I want my old dog chow" game with you and 15 minutes have gone by -- do not coax or beg your dog to eat -- remove the food bowl and go about your business. During the time from the first meal to second, do not offer any treats or feel sorry for your dog for not eating. He'll be fine.

Next meal time do the same thing as you did with the first meal. By this time your dog is probably so hungry, he'll eat willingly and look forward to eating at the next meal time.

If by the end of the second day your dog hasn't eaten anything, then have him evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure he is healthy and able to eat. He might have an oral problem with his teeth or mouth or a digestive illness.

Your new dog may not be interested in eating the first day, but just try again at the next feeding time. Give him lots of love and make a big deal out of all good deeds. Remember, he is in a new place and this can cause stress. He will eat!

Dog Food Categories
1. Generic or "grocery store" type dog foods are packaged under various local brand names, carried in grocery and discount stores. While they can be adequate for feeding to your dog, often these foods are made with lower-quality, cheaper ingredients, and have preservatives for longer shelf-life.
2. Premium dog foods are better-known brand names and can also be found in your local supermarket, but also through your veterinarian office or pet supply store. These have high-quality ingredients, but may still have some elements of the cheaper foods, such as fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors.
3. Dog health food, natural food, or holistic dog food is the most expensive. This type of dog food is made with human grade, high-quality ingredients, and the companies that make them have high standards for their manufacture. These are the top of the line foods, the best you can get, and have no added salt, sugar, preservatives, or coloring agents.
4. Homemade dog food is, as its name implies, made by you at home. There are dog food recipes if you choose to go this route.
5. Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and bone.

Dog Food
There are various approaches to the question of what to feed your dog, and how, and when. There is a confusing and seemingly limitless array of choices, including commercially prepared foods as well as ingredients and recipes for making your own. The first commercial dog food was made in England in the mid-19th century. It consisted of a sort of biscuit made of various grains, vegetables, and meat. Thirty years later the product was introduced to the U.S. with other manufacturers following in short order with their own formulations of various biscuits and dry kibble food. Canned foods followed after WWI with the introduction of canned horsemeat for dogs, followed by the development of the expanded-type of dry dog food and then the newer soft-moist products. In modern times we now have a much better understanding of dog's nutritional needs, as well as far more choices of commercially prepared foods.

Your dog is unique, and in deciding what to feed him, you'll need to take into account a lot of different factors. At any given stage or situation in your dog's life may necessitate a different choice of foods. When your dog is a puppy his needs are quite different than if he is elderly and arthritic. If your dog had surgery, his food requirements are different than if he is in good health. Or if you've been using a local brand of food, and then move to another part of the country, you might have to change simply because you can't get the same food you had before.

Even though there are dozens of choices when it comes to feeding your dog, it doesn't have to be stressful to choose a food that will meet his needs nutritionally, and that he will enjoy eating. You can find dog food comparison charts and articles on the internet to learn about nutritional needs, and how to select the proper food for your particular dog. Also check with your veterinarian about any concerns you might have.

Things to Consider
1. Your dog's age or stage of life -- the nutritional needs of a healthy, growing puppy are different from an aging, more sedentary pet. If you're unsure, ask your veterinarian to advise you on what type and amount of food your dog needs.
2. Your dog's body and activity level -- if he is a puppy, very active or underweight he will need a more nutrient dense food, as well as need to eat more often, than if he is very overweight and sedentary.
3. Your dog's health -- if your dog is healthy, his nutritional needs will be different than if he is sick, or has a health condition, such as diabetes or cancer. Also take into account his dental health. Teething puppies need chewing opportunities, but an older dog whose teeth are loose or missing may need something softer and easier to eat. Ask your veterinarian what to feed if your dog has any health issues.
4. Your dog's preferences -- dogs are individuals and what your dog likes, another new dog may refuse to eat. This can be a matter of habit or taste, but if your dog is to benefit from his food, he has to eat it. Purchase food that your dog enjoys. If you're not sure, get small quantities of different foods until you learn what kind your dog enjoys.
5. Your budget --if price is no option, choose your dog's food on quality and buy the best. The old adage that "you get what you pay for," is often true, and most of the high-priced dog foods are of high quality. But if you have a limited income, don't be discouraged. By reading labels and doing your homework, you can find a decent quality food to feed your dog. Many people keep their pets happy and healthy on a diet of generic or grocery store label dog food.

Dog Treats and Snacks
Just as you enjoy an occasional snack between meals, so does your dog, and it's fun to indulge him with tasty treats. But more than fun, treats can serve a variety of practical purposes. Dog training treats are used as rewards for your dog to learn desired behaviors, while some healthy dog treats can provide necessary vitamin supplementation, aid in keeping your dog's breath fresh or clean his teeth, and assist in feeding pills or medication.

Dog Chews and Chew Toys
Related to dog treats are dog chews and chew toys in hard and soft styles. Though many are not edible, others can provide some nutritional value. Their main benefits are to give your dog a way of satisfying his natural urge to chew, and help to strengthen and/or clean his teeth. Rawhide "bones" are a type of dog chew toy, as are the familiar latex "squeaky" toys. But there are many others, including pig ears, pig hooves, horse hooves, rawhide strips and chips, as well as lot of natural and imitation bones. They can be found in supermarkets, pet stores, pet boutiques, veterinarians, and on the internet.

The subject of feeding your dog, as well as providing him with treats, toys, and chews is enormous. There's enough information to fill encyclopedias, and almost as many opinions about the "right" way to feed your dog. Don't let all this variety overwhelm you. Start with your dog -- and take into account your own preferences, your lifestyle, and budget. Try a few different types of foods and other products until you find something your dog enjoys and thrives on. There may be times in your dog's life when you need to change foods based on your dog's current state of health. Consider any advice you may receive from your veterinarian.