It's a tricky task to figure out how to feed your dog enough food to keep her properly nourished without giving her too much and promoting overweight. Many pet parents often wonder, "How much does a dog eat per day?" How much food to feed your dog will vary throughout her life. As a puppy, she needs a lot of food to promote healthy growth. As an adult, she needs to sustain her energy levels. The weight of your dog is a starting point on which to base how much you should feed her.
Puppies and growing dogs
Puppies need a lot of food to help them grow. In the first eight weeks of life, they should primarily nurse on their mother's milk whenever they want. After their first four weeks, however, you can start adding in small amounts of dry food mixed with water to help them make a better transition when their mother's milk is no longer available.
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After eight weeks, switch your puppy to eating twice a day. Pick a food that has a good balance of protein, calcium, and other added nutrients. You can determine if your food choice is good by checking the label. A good indication is if meat is the first ingredient listed.
Feed your growing dog puppy food twice a day for the first year. Once your dog is into his second year, smaller breeds only need to be fed once a day and can be switched to adult food. Larger breeds of dogs can sometimes get puppy food and twice-a-day feedings for up to two years. Ask your veterinarian for advise on a feeding timetable.
Adult dog recommendations
Adult dogs don't need as much food as puppies, so use some general guidelines as a start. Remember, wolves don't roam in packs hunting wheat and carrots. Be careful feeding your dog commercial foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates. For example, when picking out dog food look for a food that contains around 21 percent protein, 5 percent oil, 2.5 percent fiber and 8 percent ash.
Aim to feed smaller-breed dogs (up to 11 pounds) 3 to 5 oz. of food per day. For dogs that are 11 to 22 pounds, feed 4 to 6 ounces per day. Dogs that are 22 to 55 pounds should eat 10 to 12 ounces of dog food per day. Larger breeds around 55 to 77 pounds need 16 to 18 ounces per day. And finally, for very large dogs that are 77 or bigger, feed 24 to 30 ounces per day of dog food.
Other nutrition considerations
The amount you feed your dog should not be based solely on weight. A question like, "How much should a 55 pound dog eat?" is almost irrelevant based on whether the dog sits inside all day, or whether it's a working dog or outdoor companion. Take into consideration how active your dog is. If he expels a lot of energy, he should be fed slightly more than the average dog. If your dog regularly gets table scraps and treats, feed him slightly less than the recommended amount.
Make sure you talk to your vet regarding what foods are off-limits (some human foods are toxic) and which are more necessary for muscle fuel and providing vitamins and minerals.