by Christine Busaba
Weight control and weight maintenance are common, avoidable issues that put our dogs' health in danger. A healthy body weight is one of the most critical components of your dog's health. Carrying extra pounds stresses their heart and joints, and is also highly correlated with other health issues such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer, among others. The primary culprit behind weight gain? Overfeeding and poor nutrition.
So how can you know how much food your dog should every day? There are three main factors that play into how much food your dog should eat:
- Your dog's age - Puppies and younger dogs who are growing nearly daily need more calories to nourish their bodies than older dogs who are simply maintaining their weight.
- Your dog's weight - This helps inform whether your dog is at their ideal weight, needs to lose weight or needs to gain weight. Your dog's ideal weight will be breed and age specific.
- Your dog's activity level - Much like humans, the more you move and exercise, the more calories you need. Highly active dogs need more calories to meet their energy needs than less active dogs.
You can use our flow chart below to determine how many calories per day your dog should be eating. Treats should make up no more than ~10% of your dog's daily caloric needs and their regular food should make up the remainder.
Knowing your dog's caloric needs helps you control the portion size dimension of weight maintenance. So how can you help your dog maintain a healthy weight through nutrition as well?
It starts with choosing a high quality, whole foods and biologically appropriate diet for your dog. Things to look for are minimal processing, low starch and high protein content, as well as macro and micro nutrient balance. We're big believers in a raw food diet because it hits all of the important nutritional criteria just listed, as well as being a source of major health benefits.
Other nutritional boosts that can help with weight maintenance are including a mixture of pre and probiotics for your dog that help kickstart their digestive tract and improve nutrient absorption. Absorbing more of their nutrients from their food and balancing the bacteria in their gut boosts your dog's metabolism and gives them the energy they need to go about their day.