How Much Should I Feed My Dog? An Ultimate Guide

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Yorkshire terrier with a bowl of food. How much to feed a dog?

How much should you feed your dog is a common dilemma.

For most of us, our dog is not only a pet but also a member of the family.

That’s why it’s not surprising that today we have a market for dog food made from strictly controlled ingredients and production processes that are even better than a part of the food industry for people.

Some of the most common questions related to dog food are how much should I feed my dog?

So, let’s try to answer this critical question.

Also, at the end of the article, you will find our dog food calculator adapted to each breed.

But first things first.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

The dosage of dog food is an important thing.

Super-premium food manufacturers usually offer special measuring cups to help you determine the right amount of food.

Be sure to follow the feeding instructions on the food packaging.

As we have already mentioned, overeating can have negative consequences.

Dog food should be adequate for the age and size of the dog and the dog’s weight.

Obviously, a Pomeranian is not able to eat granules that are intended for large breeds such as Cane Corso.

When we are talking about dry food for dogs there are some general rules*

  • Toy-sized dog Breeds (up to 10 pounds): 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup per day
  • Smaller dog Breeds (10-30 pounds): 1 cup per day
  • Medium-size dog Breeds (30-60 pounds) 1.5 cups per day
  • Large dog Breeds: (60-100 pounds) 2 cups per day, plus 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds

*Sometimes these rules can be slightly different depending on the manufacturer’s guide, so read the label of the food you are using for the exact amount of dry food for your dog.

How many times a day to feed your dog (feeding Schedule)?

how often should you feed your dog

The ideal number of times your dog should eat per day is determined by the breed, health, age, and nutritional restrictions. [1]

If you are not sure how many times a day you need to feed your dog, talk to your veterinarian.

They can tell you what your dog needs.

Puppies eat more often, and adult and older dogs should have at least 2 meals a day.

You need to choose the best dog food for your canine because a healthy diet is the most important part of your dog’s health.

Healthy adult dogs should eat once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

We want to provide our pets with the best living conditions, so we choose the right food following our budget.

Bear in mind that today on the market you can find a large selection of dog food from different manufacturers.

When the dog is one year old it reaches full maturity.

After this period, the dog’s diet will remain the same for the rest of its life, assuming it is not ill or exposed to increased physical activity.

Your pup’s weight should be constant and its body proportional.

How do you know your dog isn’t overweight?

Apart from visually, you can also do a test with your hands.

You can feel the dog’s ribs under a thin layer of fat with your fingertips if your dog is of average weight.

You should feed your dog high-quality foods.

Keep in mind that better-quality food will definitely have a positive effect on your pet’s health.

Also, you should give better quality foods in smaller quantities than lower quality ones.

Good and quality food has a positive effect on the lifespan of your pet, but overfeeding, even with the highest quality food, has negative effects on the health, and thus the lifespan of dogs. [2]

Dogs’ digestive tract is quite different from people’s digestive tract.

Unlike humans, dogs are not used to eating several times a day, and in nature, they are often hungry for several days.

Foods with or without grains?

Some manufacturers also offer grain-free food for dogs, guided by a holistic approach that dogs aren’t used to eating grains in nature and therefore their digestive tract is not fully adapted to the digestion of grains.

It is much more important that some dogs have problems with allergies caused by grains.

Certainly, foods that contain grains are not so bad for dogs, especially when you keep in mind that well-known manufacturers additionally process grains to make them better to digest for dogs.

However, if your dog has fur problems, the first step is to eliminate grains from the diet.

If you feed your dog dry food, be sure to give your furry friend enough drinking water.

Your dog should ALWAYS have water.

Dry food, especially during the summer months, can dehydrate your dog if there is not enough water.

However, you should not worry about that as long as you give water to your dog – the dog will drink as much water as it needs.

So, if you feed your dog only dry food, it needs more water than usual.

It is estimated that a 22 lbs (10 kg) dog needs at least 2 cups (0.35l) of water per day.

Calculate the rest based on its weight and needs.

Research shows that a dog prefers to drink water after a meal or walk.

During the summer months, change their water constantly, because stale water is the easiest way to develop bacteria that can cause various diseases.

dog feeding chart. How much should I feed my dog?

How to feed your adult dog

Now that your tiny puppy is fully grown, it’s time to say goodbye to baby formula and say hello to adult dog food.

This usually happens around the 12th month for small breeds and around the 24th month for giant breeds.

It’s a matter of personal taste, whether you decide to give the dog wet or dry food.

The combination of wet and dry food is good for their teeth and can be helpful for the dog to get familiar with both textures, in case you have to change its food at any time.

Like humans, dogs like some food and don’t like others, so you may want to try several types of food before you decide what’s their favorite. (You can read our list of human foods dogs can eat here.)

Whichever formula you choose, you will see that a good quality adult dog food will provide your dog with its basic nutritional balance.

If your dog has certain health problems, such as skin or stomach sensitivity, ask your veterinarian about special adult dog food.

Once you find the right food for your dog, you should not change the food again until your dog becomes a senior, somewhere around 6 or 7 years of age.

Always monitor your dog’s physical condition, keeping in mind that losing or gaining weight can be a sign that you need to adjust its food.

Different dog foods

There is a wide range of nutritionally balanced adult dog food on sale, designed for the specific needs of your four-legged friend.

So, you have a great choice when deciding what to feed your dog.

Breed, size, age, lifestyle, and health can all influence the choice.

Smaller breeds have a faster metabolism, which means they burn calories much faster.

Depending on their physical condition and activity level, some smaller breeds need twice as many calories each day as dogs of larger breeds.

The food with the best formula for small dogs contains additional proteins and is high in fats and carbohydrates, in order to provide them with the additional energy boost they need.

This food, in addition, is produced in the form of smaller granules, which are more suitable for smaller mouths and stomachs.

Larger breeds may have a slower metabolism, but they have a bigger appetite!

Specially prepared formulas for larger breeds are in the form of larger granules, which satisfy the taste of large dogs and encourage them to chew longer, instead of just swallowing their food.

Reduced fat content and more concentrated proteins help control weight, reduce the impact on joints and vital organs as much as possible, and also contain glucosamine to protect joints.

If your dog is particularly active or a working dog, you may choose specially formulated foods for an ‘active’ lifestyle.

These foods provide higher levels of fats, proteins, and vitamins, such as B12, to help release energy from food.

Vitamin E can also help tired muscles recover more efficiently after a period of strenuous exercise.

It is generally recommended that pregnant dogs return to good quality puppy food, which will give them extra calories and higher levels of other major nutrients they need.

Less active dogs need less fat, so feeding them a ‘light’ formula can help avoid weight gain.

Some dogs may become sensitive to a food group or may have health problems that require a special diet. The vet will recommend the right food to suit your dog’s needs.

If you are not sure which food is right for your dog, talk to your veterinarian or veterinary technician.

How to feed your dog?

Feed your dog in a quiet place, away from all the noise.

Always serve food in a clean bowl.

If you notice that your dog’s bowl is slipping on the floor, use a bowl with a non-slip bottom and a rubber feeding pan.

Dogs that greedily swallow food may benefit from a special dog bowl, which encourages dogs to eat more slowly.

For older dogs – or those who scatter food around while eating – a deeper food container may be more appropriate.

If you have two dogs, feed both dogs at the same time, but separately, to avoid quarrels.

Should I give treats to my dog?

Every dog should get a well-deserved treat from time to time, but if you keep giving them treats, you should subtract those extra calories from the main meal to avoid overeating.

How many treats and how often depends on the type of treats you choose.

Generally, sweets, biscuits, and snacks should be limited to a maximum of 15% of your dog’s total food intake daily or a maximum of 10% in the case of smaller meat-based rewards.

If your dog is on a diet recommended by a veterinarian, it doesn’t mean that your buddy shouldn’t get treats at all.

Use some of the food during the day as treats and for training.

Some snacks, such as those for maintaining dental health, come in different sizes, according to the size of your dog.

While they can add up to one-third of the calories your dog needs, they contain the most important vitamins and minerals that help with a balanced diet.

As with food, check the feeding instructions on the treat package, and if in doubt, consult your veterinarian about how many treats to give your dog.

What not to feed your dog

dog and pet parent in front of food

Just as you need to know what to feed your dog, you also need to know what not to feed your pal.

The puppy dog eyes can be very convincing, but there are some things that you shouldn’t give them.

You should avoid giving your dog your leftovers, as there is a risk that these foods will upset the balance of their dog food.

If you give your dog an extra bite from time to time, remember that this amount should never exceed more than 10% of the food the dog eats during the day.

There are some types of foods you should avoid giving to your dog:

Raw meat

Raw meat can cause food poisoning, so if you intend to give your dog meat, make sure that it is unseasoned and heat-treated, in order to destroy all bacteria.


Easily brittle chicken and fish bones can damage teeth and get stuck in the intestines.

The same goes for bigger bones.

Although larger bones are usually given to dogs, they can also get stuck in the gut when they break, so you should avoid giving them to your pet.


Many dogs enjoy the taste of sweets, but chocolate intended for people is toxic for dogs.

Even a few pieces can be very toxic, so keep chocolate away from your pet.

Grapes and raisins can also be toxic to dogs.  

You can read our list of foods dogs can’t eat.

What if you need to change their food?

Sometimes you need to change your dog’s food; the dog may be getting old, so it needs food for seniors, or your dog may be pregnant or requires to switch to special foods.

If you change their food too quickly, you can disrupt their digestion.

So, the process of switching to other foods must be gradual (7 to 10 days) so that they can naturally adapt to enzymes and bacteria in the digestive tract.

Mix some new food with your dog’s regular food or offer both types of food to the dog separately.

Gradually increase the amount of new food over the next 7-10 days, while reducing the amount of their previous food, until you completely replace the food.

If you switch from wet to dry food, your dog will have to get used to the new texture.

Your furry friend will have to chew this food more actively, eat it longer, and surely ask for more water.

If you switch from dry to wet food, the dog may drink less water and miss dry food as there is nothing left to crunch.

You can always mix a few biscuits in wet food to enrich the texture.

Remember that a portion of dry food may look smaller than a portion of canned food.

This is because dry food generally has a higher concentration of calories, so your dog gets the same amount of energy in a smaller portion of dry food than in a larger portion of wet food.

If your dog refuses the new food, even if it has been prescribed by your veterinarian, you should check to see if there is a reason for your dog to be so picky.

Don’t worry.

There is certainly an alternative food you can try.

Dog Food Calculator

You can use our calculator to check exactly how much should you feed your dog.

All you need is the number of calories in the food (check the label) and the weight that is ideal for your dog.

Dog Food Calculator
Step 1
Your dog’s ideal weight

pounds   kilograms

Step 2
Your dog’s activity level

Step 3
Your dog food’s calories per serving

kcal / cup

How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?

As your dog becomes bigger (from three months onwards), it is recommended to eat two meals, and later ‘only’ one meal during the day.

If you feed your puppy too much, it will not only be overweight, but it can develop bone abnormalities and other health problems.

If the puppy is gaining too much weight, gradually reduce its food intake.

And if it’s too skinny, increase the food intake. If you are not sure what’s your pup’s normal weight, ask your vet.

How much to feed your puppy?

Your puppy looks small now, but it will grow soon!

In just 12 months (up to 24 months for larger breeds) it should reach full size and become a mature dog.

Meanwhile, its body and brain are developing at an incredible speed, and high-quality puppy food will help your furry buddy achieve that.

Puppies need good food because a healthy, energetic puppy can burn up to twice as many calories as an adult dog!

Introducing solid food to puppies

Breast milk is an ideal first food for puppies since it is naturally high in all the nutrients that puppies need to grow into big and strong dogs.

Although puppies are ready to wean at 6-8 weeks, many will show interest in solid food as early as 3-4 weeks of age – usually by noisily falling into their mother’s bowl and licking food from their paws!

This is the best time to start offering them puppy formula food.

If you choose dry food, add a little water and mix to make a mushy mixture.

As your puppy grows, you can add just a little yogurt and make the food drier.

Don’t be tempted to wean them off too early, as switching to solid foods alone can be stressful for your puppy’s immature digestive system.

Very often the puppy’s eyes are bigger than its tummy!

To create the right balance between enough food and overeating, give your pup smaller meals more frequently.  

The amount depends on the age and size of the dog, as well as the advice given by your veterinarian.

Try to start with a spoonful of food about three or four times a day while your puppy is still sucking milk and use the following instructions as a basic rule:

  • From the beginning of offering food until it stops sucking milk (usually two months) – 4-6 meals a day
  • From two to three months5-6 meals a day every 3 hours
  • From four to six months4-5 meals a day
  • Over six months 3 meals a day (depending on the breed)
  • From nine months1-2 meals a day

Read the instructions on the food package carefully – this should give you an idea of the amount of food your puppy needs.

The exact amount you should feed your puppy can vary depending on age, breed, health, and how energetic it is – more playful puppies will burn more energy, so they need more food as fuel!

Regularly weighing your puppy will help you find out if your dog is the right weight for its age, size, and breed.

You can do this at home, and if you are not sure how to do it, ask your veterinarian to show you or do it during the checkup.

The way you feed your puppies is just as important as the food you give them.

Give puppies wet food at room temperature because it smells best and it’s easier to digest.

If you store the food in the refrigerator, remember to take it out about an hour before a meal.

You can also put wet food in the microwave to heat it a little bit, don’t make it hot.

While wet food doesn’t last if you leave it outside, dry food will last all day without spoiling.

Many puppies like to crunch their dry food, but if your puppy prefers to wet it a little, or there is a health reason to avoid solid food, soak dry food for a maximum of 30 minutes before a meal.

Since crunching dry food also helps to remove tartar, you may need to introduce a regular treat for cleansing teeth if it prefers wet food.

Just remember to keep these treats in mind when calculating your pup’s daily calorie intake.

What not to feed your puppy?

It’s hard to resist the puppy-dog eyes, we know.

But, try to stay firm when it comes to your dog’s diet.

Your puppy needs to have a healthy balanced diet and you need to say no even though it can be hard.

If you can’t help it, remember that the amount of these treats should never be more than 10% of your dog’s total daily amount of food.

Also, make sure never to give your dog the following food:

Never give your puppy raw meat.

To reduce the risk of food poisoning, good heat treatment of fresh meat will destroy all bacteria.

Before feeding, check the meat for small bones, especially chicken and fish, which are easily broken, as these bones can damage teeth or get in the way of the intestines.

Never give your dog chocolate, as it is toxic to them.

Onions or grapes/raisins are also highly toxic dog food.

When to switch to adult dog food?

Although your puppy may look like a fully grown dog (between six and eight months for mini-breed dogs and about 24 months for large and giant breeds), it is still just a puppy, so don’t be tempted to switch to adult dog food too early!

Most dogs still need the extra calories and nutrients that puppy food provides until they are around 12-24 months old (this also applies to older dogs when it comes to large/giant breeds).

Only after that, they are ready to switch to the adult dog formula.

If you are not sure when to switch your puppies to adult dog food, consult your vet.

Therefore, the important question is, how many times a day should the dog be fed?

Although there are many different opinions about it, generally puppies should eat several times a day, because their metabolism is much faster.

You can feed them three times a day, that’s enough.

Avoid various treats when they are small, except those intended for puppies, but you should be very careful with them too and give them very moderately.

How many times a day to feed a puppy?

The digestive system of puppies must adapt to solid food in the first few months.

So, you should feed young dogs more often than older dogs.

It is usually enough to feed puppies three to four times a day.

Be sure to reduce the amount of food per meal at the same time.

When the dog is fully grown, it is enough to feed it only once or twice a day.

You need to make sure you offer food at similar times of the day.

Also, don’t forget to include treats in your dog’s daily amount of food.

How to Feed Your Senior Dog?

Senior dogs’ diets should be based on their individual needs. You need to consider their weight, stamina, health issues, body condition, and physical activity.

Follow the next rules when you plan your senior dog’s meal:

  • the overall quantity of food, i.e. the energy needs drop for about 20% due to reduced physical activity;
  • a slight increase in protein (30%) to obtain the optimal nutritional balance;
  • an increase in vitamins and plant fiber for good work of the bowels;
  • feeding once per day;
  • You can also give your dog a complete dietary food.

There is food on the market that’s specially made for your dog, so you don’t have to think about the number of calories or protein your dog needs.

It’s quite possible to extend your senior dog’s life and to prevent the process of aging.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog – Bottom Line

A general rule for dry food is that small dog breeds need from 1/2 cup to 1 cup per day, medium-sized dogs need about 1.5 cups per day and large dog breeds need about 2 cups of dry food per day.

You should feed your dog once or twice per day (adult dogs), ideally in the morning and afternoon.

Also, you should feed your dog high-quality foods if you want to have a healthy and long-lived pet.

When it comes to puppies – the amount depends on the age and size of the dog, as well as the advice given by your veterinarian.

Senior dogs’ diets should be based on their individual needs.

Photo of author


Cliff is the co-founder and chief editor at He and his Yorkie Boza are always together - even at work. Cliff is a passionate dog lover and has 15+ years of experience in dog training. His mission is to provide the best dog feeding tips that help dogs live longer and happier.

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