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How Much to Feed Your Dog

You have your dog’s food bowl in hand and the dog food on the counter in front of you. But how much food do you put in the bowl? Calories are the key. The label on the dog food package should tell you how many calories the food contains and the table here lists dogs’ average daily calorie requirements depending on weight and activity level.

If the label doesn’t provide information on the caloric content of the food, you have to use the manufacturer’s recommendations as a starting point. But instead of feeding the amount recommended on the bag, start by feeding 25 percent less than the manufacturer recommends, and then increase or decrease the amount as necessary.

For the purposes of the table, an inactive dog is one who rarely gets more than a jaunt around the yard, a moderately active dog is one who gets 15 to 30 minutes of continuous exercise every day, and a highly active dog is one who gets at least several hours of exercise every day.

Caloric Requirements of Dogs (Based on Activity Level)
Dog’s Weight (In Pounds) Inactive Moderately Active Highly Active
10 234 303 441
20 373 483 702
30 489 633 921
40 593 768 1,117
50 689 892 1,297
60 779 1,008 1,466
70 863 1,117 1,625
80 944 1,222 1,777
90 1,022 1,322 1,923
100 1,097 1,419 2,064

Dogs’ metabolisms vary so greatly that the best way to know exactly how many calories your dog needs each day is by trial and error. Feed the amount of food that will maintain your dog’s weight. If your dog gains weight, decrease the amount of food she’s getting. If she loses weight, increase the amount.

As dogs exercise more or become pregnant or are nursing pups, they need more calories. But larger dogs require relatively fewer calories to maintain their weight. This is because larger dogs generally have slower metabolisms than smaller dogs. Age can affect caloric requirements, too. As a dog goes from 1 to 7 years of age, her energy requirements drop by an incredible 24 percent.

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