Feeding your dog is one of the most important responsibilities of being a pet parent. But how many calories does my dog need? Are you giving him too much, or too little? Let's take a look at how many calories your dog should eat in an average day.
Calories by Weight
The amount of food your dog needs depends on a number of factors, but the main one is his weight. The rule of thumb is: dogs should get about 25 to 30 calories per pound each day. So, a chihuahua would need only one to two hundred calories. A golden retriever might need 1,500 to 2,000 calories, and a Great Dane might need 3,000+.
A spayed or neutered dog will need slightly less food each day. The process changes his hormones in such a way that his metabolism will slow down. Therefore, if you take him in for the procedure, it might be a good idea to cut back his calorie intake, just slightly, going forward, if you don't want your furry friend to gain weight.
To determine how many calories you're feeding your dog, look at the food package. It will likely have more information on how much to feed your dog, based on weight, as well as how many calories are in a given serving size. Use that info to measure out the proper amount of food for your dog's needs.
How Often to Feed Your Dog
The next important question is: should those calories be given to your dog all at once, or spread out throughout the day? Most experts recommend feeding your canine companion twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. For puppies under five months, it should be three times a day.
Some people prefer to give their dogs one big meal instead of two smaller ones. As long as he's generally healthy, this shouldn't be a problem. Some medical issues necessitate stricter feeding schedules, but for most dogs, it's not a big deal. Talk to your veterinarian and see what they recommend.
The other factor to consider is snacks and treats. When you look at the calories you give your dog, you're likely thinking about how much goes into his bowl. However, don't forget, if you're in the habit of giving your dog treats throughout the day, that will increase his calorie intake too.
Not that there's anything wrong with providing the occasional treat for your dog. In fact, we recommend it in a number of circumstances, such as reinforcing good behavior. Just be aware of the calorie content in those treats. Too many can cause him to gain weight, so do your best to keep him healthy.
Bacon, for instance, will have more calories than, say, a dog biscuit, so don't give him as much of it. A large dog bone will have enough calories to equal several days worth of snacks. Exercise is important too, so make sure your dog enjoys an active lifestyle, with regular walks.
In the end, every dog is different, and keeping yours healthy means knowing his specific needs. Talk to your vet about how much your furry friend should eat, recommended snacks to give him, and how to help him maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. By taking that extra care in planning your dog's meals, you’ll help ensure that he'll remain by your side, happy and healthy, for a long time to come.