Making sure your dog is eating enough food every day is one of the best ways you can help keep them healthy and active. In this blog, our Groton vets discuss some ways you can make sure you are feeding your dog the right amount of food each day.
What Happens When You Underfeed Your Dog?
While our Groton vets often have to deal with the issue of overfeeding and obese dogs sometimes the case of an underfeed dog comes to our attention and it can be heartbreaking. Like in humans either being underfed in calories or having incomplete nutrition can have a devastating effect on the health of your canine companion.
Low energy is a symptom of not eating enough. If they don't have enough calories they will not have the energy to play.
Their fur starts to fall out or they start gaining bald patches because they do not have the resources or energy to spare to grow their normally luscious coat.
They will be more prone to illness. The immune system needs fuel to function. If they don't have the energy to fight off illness then they will get very sick and take a prolonged time to heal.
How Do You Know if You Are Underfeeding Your Dog?
Look at your dog if their waist is extremely exaggerated instead of a gradual slope your dog might be underfed.
If you can see or feel the ribs and they don't seem to have any fat on them your dog is probably underfed.
If your dog is losing patches of hair there may be an issue with the nutrition. Go talk to your veterinarian to determine if your pet is having issues with their nutrition.
Why Does the Right Dog Food Matter?
It's not always easy to tell how much food you should feed your dog. It is important for them to get the right amount of nutrients every day to be healthy. If you feed your dog too much food it can cause weight gain but too little and they can suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
This makes it essential to give your dog the appropriate portion sizes, consistently every day.
What is the Right Amount of Food for Your Dog
The size of the meals you feed your dog depends on a variety of factors including:
- The number of meals they require
- The type of food
- Your dog's activity level
- Their weight
- Metabolic rate
We also recommend talking to your veterinarian who will be able to give you a more accurate recommendation for how much your dog should be eating daily based on the criteria listed above.
Dog Feeding Charts & Guides
Most brands of dog food come with a dog feeding chart on the packaging, it can give you a good indication of how much you should be feeding your dog for their size and weight, over a 24-hour time period.
Adult dogs require approximately two meals a day. Puppies require three or more. You will need to divide the daily feeding amount listed on the dog food chart/guide by the number of meals you feed your dog a day. If you are uncertain how many times you should be feeding your pet contact your veterinarian.
Calorie calculators can act as a good guide by informing you roughly how many calories you should be feeding your dog every day based on a specific set of criteria. Be aware that the numbers they inform you to feed your dog aren't always accurate and can be off by approximately 25%.
Record Changes in Your Dog's Weight
Keep a diary or journal of your dog's weight. Weigh your dog every 2-4 weeks and track your results, and adjust the amount you feed your dog accordingly. If your dog is losing an inappropriate amount of weight give them slightly bigger portions, if they are gaining too much weight feed them less. Inform your veterinarian if there are any changes in your dog's weight because weight gain or weight loss can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Recalculate Portion Sizes When You Switch Foods
Not all dog foods are the same. The amount of calories or nutrients in every type of dog food is different, you need to readjust the portions you give your dog based on the feeding guide of the new food and your dog's calorie needs.
Talk to Your Vet
Your vet will be able to tell you exactly how much food you should be feeding your dog, and even recommend the best types of dog food. You can also ask them any questions you have about your canine friend's dietary needs.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.