How Much and How Often Should I Feed my Dog?

 |  Oct 16th 2009  |   0 Contributions


I have a nine-month-old mix -- we got her at a rescue center and they do not know for sure her breed. We were told that she would weigh between 25 and 35 pounds (by our vet). Well at 55 pounds of solid dog I have a question - How many times a day should we feed her and how much? The vet thinks she has the following breeds mixed - Husky, Welch Corgi, Lab and Pit bull. She has short hair and seems to shed about every 4 months.

Nancy
Goodyear, AZ

You illustrate in your question the reason why I never try to guess how big a puppy will be when full grown. This is especially true of non-purebred dogs. Dogs are like people. Some grow early, and others grow late. Either can be normal, and this makes it devilishly hard to guess how big a puppy will be when it is an adult.

The tallest person in a sixth grade class may be among the shortest of the cohort during high school graduation. And the shortest person in the sixth grade could be among the tallest in the twelfth. In general I refrain from speculating on the final size that I expect juveniles of any species to reach.

But your question was about feeding. How much should a dog (or cat, or human) eat? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that one. Different lifestyles, activity levels, and baseline metabolisms all come into play. The type of food eaten is important, too. Active dogs that eat low calorie food need to eat large amounts in order to survive. Sedentary indoor cats that eat calorically dense diets can get by on close to nothing.

Formulas exist to calculate energy needs for pets. I haven't used them in years, but I do recall that they involve body mass to the 3/4 power. I also recall, vividly, that the formulas are useless. They make great theory, but real life is more complicated--and at the same time more simple.

I recommend that you feed your pet the amount of food necessary to grow, thrive, and maintain a healthy body weight. That may sound obvious, but it is true. The only method that truly works in my experience is trial and error. If your pet is overweight, feed him less. If your pet is underweight, growing or training for the Iditarod, feed him more. Tinker until you get it right.

Two meals daily is the standard for dogs in the United States, but this rule isn't set in stone. Some animals, most notably small breed puppies, should be fed more often (young Yorkshire Terrier and Chihuahua puppies should be fed at least four times each day to prevent low blood sugar). I have some patients that eat three square meals every day. Others eat only one (although I generally don't recommend one meal each day due to an anthropomorphic opposition to going 23 1/2 hours without food).

For most pets the number of meals fed doesn't matter anywhere near as much as the total amount of food offered. Your dog, as you mention, is "solid". To me it sounds like you're doing things right.

Photo: Pogo's weight looks fine.

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