How much Food is Enough ?

Eating is an all time favorite canine activity and most dogs will lick the bowl clean and then ask for seconds with a winning tilt of the head. Your dog is not the best judge of when enough is enough, so it’s up to you to decide how much she can eat.

Catering for the Individual Dog:
The right amount of food varies with the individual dog. Every can or package of food has guidelines printed on it. The trouble is, these are written with the “average” dog in mind, but nobody knows quite what the average dog looks like, let alone how much she needs to eat.

Even if they happen to weigh the same, all dogs are unique. Their activity levels differ, their ages differ and their metabolisms differ, so their nutritional requirements differ as well. The feeding guidelines provided on dog food containers are good starting points. Then focus on the needs of your very own not-at-all-average dog.

Helpful Guidelines:
You can work out how much your dog needs to eat by learning to evaluate her overall body condition, then adjusting her food accordingly. Many vets are now recommending that you use a five-point scale to determine her body condition and work out how much food she should be receiving each day.

To assess your dog’s body condition, take a good look at her from the back and from above to see if she looks lean or heavy. Then put your hands over her ribcage to see if the ribs are prominent or heavily padded over with fat. Armed with this information – how your dog looks and how her ribs feel – you can use the chart opposite and accompanying illustrations as guidelines to evaluate your dog’s body, so you know to give more, less or the same amount of food as usual.

Your aim is t feed your dog the right amount of food so that her body is “ideal.” But if your check shows that she is on the overweight side, she’s getting more food than she can use and you should cut it back. And if she’s underweight, she’s not eating enough, so feed her more.

Four Simple Steps:
Feeding your dog the correct amount is a very simple process. Dr. Churchill suggests owners follow these four steps:

1.Choose the most complete and balanced owner’s food you can find.

2.Follow the feeding guidelines on the package.

3.Evaluate your dog every two weeks.

4.Adjust your dog’s rations – always do this gradually – until she matches the ideal “score.”

Whether your dog is a puppy, middle-aged or geriatric, active or relatively sedentary, by following guidelines you will help ensure that she remains at a healthy weight. With this method, you can monitor your dog continually and adjust how much you feed her in response to the changes in her body and her lifestyle.