Feeding our dogs and cats is anything but an exact science. One of the most frequent questions we get asked is how much do I feed my pet? With all the different considerations of things like weight, activity level, age, and environment, that can be a difficult question to answer. Add to that difficulty the fact that many pet parents feed a combination of wet and dry food and supplements, and it becomes even more confusing.
Where do you start?
A good place to start figuring out this great mystery is to check your pet’s body condition. This can be done by using a body score chart so you can visibly check and see if they are just right, a little on the porky side or a bit skinny. Here are links to cat and dog charts. Next, you will need to weigh your pet. Determine if your pet needs to gain or lose weight or just maintain.
If you feed your pet primarily dry food, then check the package for the daily feeding guidelines for his or her weight, age and activity level. If you wish to feed your loyal companion a combination of dry and wet food or meal topper, then you will need to take all of those calories into consideration. Remember that wet food is not as calorically dense as kibble simply because of the moisture levels. The same consideration will be needed for toppers or meal mixers, depending on whether they are dry, wet, dehydrated, freeze-dried or semi-moist
The feeding guidelines on the package are carefully calculated and listed for your pet’s weight. Some products will also include amounts for less active, more active or weight loss, and/or for various life stages. These feeding guidelines are daily amounts. Once you have found the daily recommended amounts for your pet for each type of food, then it is simple math to determine how much of each to feed.
Here’s an example:
- Let’s say you have a 30 lb reasonably active Adult dog. You want to feed him a combination of GO! FIT + FREE™ Adult dry food and GO! FIT + FREE™ Chicken, Turkey & Duck Stew.
- If you want to feed 50% kibble, 50% canned, use the feeding guidelines for each, and feed half as much of each daily. In this example, it would result in starting with ¾ cup of dry and 1 ½ cans of wet per day.
- If you want to feed 75% kibble, 25% canned, use the feeding guidelines for each and calculate how much 75% would be for feeding dry, and 25% of the feeding guidelines for the wet food. In this example, it would result in just over 1 cup of dry and ¾ of a can of wet per day.
- Adjust these amounts over time to achieve an ideal body weight. In addition, we recommend weighing your pet’s food for better accuracy.
The same calculations can be used with meal toppers or mixers, unless it is a complete and balanced recipe, remembering that no more than 10% of your pet’s daily intake should be this type of extra or treat.
Paying attention to the feeding guidelines, rather than calories, will give you a good idea of where to start. Once you see how those amounts affect the body condition of your pet, you can adjust up or down from there.
In the end, ensuring your pet has the proper amount of nutritional intake each day will be an ongoing balancing act. Just like people, their weight and body condition will fluctuate with activity level, climate, and age and so you need to be vigilant and keep a close eye on them to keep them at a healthy weight.
“I was talking to the people at the local dog store and they suggested that I try NOW FRESH™ Grain Free and gave me a sample bag. His appetite is up, his coat looks amazing and he has even more energy at day care. We are so impressed with the food, thank you!”
- Carrie and Cliff