Healthy portions are smaller than you think

Many pet owners think their dog needs more food than it really does. This means that many dogs are overfed. This contributes to weight gain, which in turn, may lead to other health issues.

Golden Retriever adult in black and white eating from a red bowl
Adult Jack Russell Terrier and Irish Red Setter outside in a garden

What is the correct portion size for my dog?

A healthy weight is maintained by achieving the right balance between energy intake and energy output. The correct portion size for your dog can be different from any other dog, even if it is the same breed.

The starting point is to follow the feeding guide, which can normally be found on the packing of the food you have selected to feed your dog. However, a number of factors may also need to be taken into consideration when determining the portion size.

Firstly, consider the size of your dog. A small breed such as a Chihuahua will require a very different amount of calories from a St.Bernard. Try to choose a product which is formulated to meet the needs of your dogs breed, size and age.

Next, think about their activity levels; are they a working dog or do they spend most of their time indoors with short walks during the day? If you have any concerns about what quantities to feed your dog, please contact your local vet for specific advice.

How much does my puppy need to eat?

A healthy weight begins at the start of your puppy’s life, with the right balance of nutrition and activity.

Puppies should be fed a diet of specially formulated puppy food to meet their  nutritional needs until they finish growing. Generally, your puppy will need this special food portioned into 3 meals per day until the age of 6 months. Then, you can switch to two meals per day until the end of the growth period and beyond. Be sure to follow the feeding guidelines written on your food packs or consult your vet for the correct amount to feed your puppy at each meal.

While it’s tempting to show your affection for your puppy with treats, they should only be offered on rare occasions as they can lead to excessive weight gain. It’s always better to reward your puppy by petting them and using encouraging words. You can, however, use a few kibbles taken from their daily ration as a reward during puppy training sessions. What matters most is establishing the right food habits from the start.

Finally, note that once your puppy is spayed or neutered, their calorie requirements will decrease. If you’re unsure about adjusting portions for your puppy, it’s important to consult your vet.

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The importance of healthy portioning

Your dog's portion size plays a big part in maintaining a healthy weight and shape. No matter how much they exercise, if a dog's portion is too large, they will still be prone to putting on weight.

Keep in mind, recommended feeding quantities for dogs are often just guidelines. The amount of food your dog requires may change throughout their life. As your dog grows older and becomes less active, they may need a lower energy requirement in order to maintain their ideal weight and shape. Therefore, you may want to review the diet you are feeding, as well as their food quantity. 

It's important to consult your vet if you are ever unsure about your dog's portion size.

Welsh Corgi Pembroke adult lying down on a white rug in front of a silver bowl
Beagle adult standing in a kitchen looking over a table

Why is my dog begging?

If your dog seems to be asking you for food all the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are hungry. This apparent taste for human food may actually be a habit, a sign of boredom or attention seeking. Giving in to begging can reinforce this behaviour.

That being said, if your dog continues to show food seeking behaviour, this could also be a sign of illness. Parasites such as worms can cause increased appetite and continuous begging, sometimes combined with weight loss.

If signs of begging or consistent hunger persist, it's important to consult your vet to rule out any underlying issues.

Tips to maintain portion sizes for your dog

Maintaining healthy portion sizes for your dog may feel tricky, however there are a number of things you can consider to make sure you're not overfeeding your dog. Once you've identified your dog's correct portion size, use digital weighing scales for each meal to ensure accurate quantities every time. It's easy to underestimate how much you're actually feeding your dog.

Don't add human food to your dog's ration as this may upset the nutritional balance and increase calorie intake.

If you're giving your dog treats, take note of the calories and subtract these from their daily portion to make sure they aren't overeating. Treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog's daily calorie ration. Alternatively, taking kibbles from your dog's rations to use as treats means you can be confident that your dog is getting the appropriate balance of nutrients as well as maintaining the correct amount of calories.

Spitz dog standing in a living room eating from a silver bowl
Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy eating from a red bowl

The importance of healthy mealtime

Puzzle feeders are great for some dogs and foraging for food is a great enrichment activity in some cases.  For puppies under 6-months old, 3 meals a day are recommended, whilst two meals a day is recommended for adult dogs.

Adult dogs running through a field of long grass.

The risks to your dog if they are obese

Adult Jack Russell running on a beach with a ball in its mouth.

How to help your dog lose weight

Puppy Beagle standing outside eating from a blue bowl.

How to help your dog gain weight

Golden Retriever adult playing in black and white with a red ball with a stop watch illustration behind

Health depends on activity

Activity is key to keeping your dog stimulated and at a healthy weight. The amount of exercise they need varies based on their age, weight and breed.

Healthy Activity
Labrador Retriever puppy in black and white lying down in front of a growth curve illustration

Healthy growth lasts a lifetime

Losing weight is more challenging than maintaining a healthy weight in the first place, so it's important that healthy habits and behaviours are introduced from day one.

Healthy Growth