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If you’re a first-time dog owner, “How much should I feed my dog?” is probably one of the first questions you have when bringing your new friend home. Feeding your dog too much can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of chronic conditions, while feeding your dog too little can also harm their health. So, how do you find the sweet spot in your dog’s nutrition?
While reading the label on the back of your dog food bag is a good place to start, the reality is that every dog is unique. To help you make the best decision for yours, here are four factors you’ll want to consider when determining how much to feed your dog.
Dogs have different calorie and nutritional needs at various stages of their life. Puppies grow fast, so they need more calories and nutrients than adults. Growing puppies need to be fed a diet specifically formulated to support their developmental needs. Elderly dogs, on the other hand, typically need fewer calories and may benefit from a senior dog formula.
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The size and breed of your dog also matters when it comes to mealtime. Large and giant breed dogs (think German Shepherds and Great Danes) tend to grow quickly as puppies and need enough calories to promote healthy bone and muscle growth. But feeding a large-breed puppy too much food can make them grow too fast, increasing their risk of bone issues such as hip dysplasia.
While small-breed dogs may not have the same risk of bone issues as large-breed dogs, their high metabolism and limited energy reserves make them prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If you have a small dog breed—and toy breeds in particular—you may want to feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to avoid low-sugar shock.
If your dog aced their last vet exam and is currently at the perfect weight, you probably don’t want to mess with a good thing. That said, maybe your dog could stand to lose a few pounds. In that case, you might want to feed a smaller amount than the recommended daily feeding amount for their current weight. Before you make any adjustments to your dog’s diet, talk with your vet. They can determine the right calorie intake for your dog and create a weight reduction plan to help yours safely lose weight.
Some dog breeds are known for their seemingly limitless energy, while others love nothing more than to curl up on the couch with you and nap the day away. If your dog falls into the latter camp, you may want to feed them less or switch to a low-calorie dog food to avoid unwanted weight gain. Got an all-star-athlete canine? They may benefit from a sport dog food formula to help them maintain their body weight.
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Giving your dog the occasional chew is a great way to reward them for being good and give their teeth a quick cleaning. But how many should you be giving them? And what kind? Experts say that dog chews should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake. So, if your dog eats 650 calories a day, only 65 calories should be dedicated to chews.
As for what kinds, we recommend stocking up on high-quality dog chews like those from PawLove. Our natural dog chews are made with the best ingredients for your furry friend, so you get peace of mind while your dog has a deliciously good time!
Doggy nutrition can be complicated, but don’t let that stop you from creating a healthy, balanced diet for Fido. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always make an appointment with your veterinarian to see if you’re on the right track. Your dog will thank you for it in the long run.