How much raw food should I feed my dog?
As a general rule, most adult dogs require 20-40 calories per pound or around 3% of their bodyweight daily. Without having an exact calorie count of your chosen formula, the easiest way to determine portion size is by meal weight and body composition. However, it really depends on your individual dog and their lifestyle to guage how much they need. Smaller dogs generally eat more, as do puppies and very active or working dogs, but this isnt always the case. It can be difficult to determine what your pets need without making an adjustment or two, but with the chart below you will have a pretty good starting point. From my own personal experience, I’ve found it’s easier to add food to their meal, than take it away, so it’s best to be slightly conservative until you find your pets ideal healthy weight.
What is my pets ideal healthy weight?
This is a topic with very different answers depending on the breed of dog, its age, function or lifestyle and even more so, by who you ask. Furthermore, the time of year and geography will determine if they need to gain or shed an extra pound or two as well. Being from Texas, I believe that in most cases their best weight is when they are the leanest with no loss of energy, strength or temperment and not described by their looks alone. Dogs like Greyhounds or Pitbulls may look like pro athletes, whereas the physique of a healthy Golden Retriever or Pug may be hidden by coat length or stature. I have found that with adequate exercise and a balanced, well-portioned diet, your pets ideal weight will almost find itself if given the chance. That’s not to say it will take no effort on your part. The key here is to have a watchful eye and notice any changes in their body composition or energy levels. The trick is to catch these changes early and adjust accordingly.
Exercise, Nutrition and Portion Control.
These are the three most important aspects of managing your pets weight. It’s surprisingly easy to neglect one or the other in the patterns of our day to day lives, but what matters most is getting them back on track. This will take a diligent effort on your part, but trust me, your pets will love you for it.
Our pets have less activities to stimulate their body and minds than we do, but they absolutely love to run, chew on and hunt for things. This is what comes natural to them, so it’s very important we provide the opportunity or they may find a way themselves. This we don’t want. If they don’t drive us crazy burning off the frustration, they will drive themselves crazy suppressing it. Here’s a solution – find something they love and let that be yours and their thing. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood to sniff out anything they’ve missed out on, a romp session at the dog park or a competitive event, you will see a marked improvement in their physique and temperment. Not only will this help them shed a few pounds and keep energy levels in check, it will help curb depression by giving them something to look forward to all day long.
Need I say more? By itself, a balanced diet is far more effective at maintaining your pets health and body composition, than exercise alone. Look at it this way, without the fuel needed for a satisfying workout or play session, they will be exhausted much sooner. Afterwards, they need to replenish the nutrients and calories lost that are necessary for a proper recovery. If their diet is sub par, their bodies will borrow from it’s own supply to get what it needs, which in turn may cause deficiencies. Not good. Aside from maintaining their daily overall health, nutrition plays the most important role in your pets weight management. Simply feeding them the correct ratio of protein, fat and carbs will make an undeniable improvement, but a food that is designed to meet all of their individual needs would make an undeniable impression.
Let’s put it this way, our pets are not concerned if they’re a bit on the chubby side, so it’s up to us to keep their best interests in mind. This means to stop free feeding them. I know some will hate to hear that and have some very convincing reasons to do otherwise, but they can put down some serious food if given the opportunity. Even with proper exercise and a top notch diet, your pets will be on the heavy side if left to chow down as they please. Easy fix – keep a measuring cup or scale nearby and adjust accordingly. The good news is, feeding a raw diet tends to simplify this. Since they are typically packaged at a predetermined weight, it will be easier to add or take away as you see fit. Reference the diagrams below as a visual and apply the principles above as a guide and your dog will be looking like a show winner in no time.
Ok, so where do I start?
The example below shows the range of what a typical 10, 40 and 100 lb. dog will eat in a given week:
- 10 lb. dogs need 2- 2.5 lbs / wk.
- 40 lb. dogs need 7-9 lbs. / wk.
- 100 lb. dogs need 14-18 lbs. / wk.
Remember, until you have found your pets ideal weight, the amount you feed them should be on the low side of this range. When you’re happy with their body composition, as their weight settles in to a healthy range, you can adjust accordingly. By adding or subtracting 10% of their daily meal weight at a time, you will be able to pinpoint right where they need to be.
*To use the chart below – find your pets target weight on the left and intersect with their metabolic rate listed at the bottom. The resulting value is their daily meal weight.
*To find their metabolic rate – most medium sized companion dogs will eat around 2.5 – 3% of their bodyweight per day. Large dogs 2-2.5%, small or very active dogs 3-4% and adolescent or working dogs 4% or more. To begin, use the amounts on the low end of your range and adjust as needed.
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