Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I feed my dog?

You probably already know this but feeding your dog the right amount is super important. Here’s the deal: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and underfeeding can cause nutritional deficiencies, so you want to make sure to get this one right. No worries, we’ve got your covered!

First things first, let’s find out how many cups of food your dogs needs based on its size and weight. The average 8 oz. cup of dog food has 430 calories. Take a look at this overview to see how many cups your dog needs per day (puppies need 2-3x that):

Next, check your dog’s current body shape to see if it’s too thin, just right or too heavy. Here is how:

Your dog is too thin if:

  • Ribs and pelvic bones are very visible
  • You can see the vertebrae on the back from far away
  • There is little muscle mass

Your dog has an ideal weight if:

  • You can easily feel the ribs but they have a little fat covering them
  • You can make out your dog’s waist when looking from above
  • The belly curves up slightly when viewed from the side (instead of hanging down)

Your dog is too heavy if:

  • You cannot feel your dog’s ribs because they are covered in a lot of fat
  • No waist line can be seen from above
  • There is a lot of fat on the neck, tail and limbs

Lastly, fine-tune how much you feed based on your dog’s activity level and lifestyle. If your pup is a canine athlete, sporting dog or professional stunt-pup it will need more food. But if she’s a chilled-out couch potato that likes to take it easy you might have to reduce calories a bit to prevent weight gain.

All right, so just remember three things: Size, body shape, activity level. Use these three to guide how much to feed your best friend. Check monthly and make adjustments as you go and you should be set. Bon appetit, pup!

Annnnnd.. Before we forget, a couple of helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Senior dogs have lower energy requirements so make sure to talk to your vet about how much to feed.
  • Different dog foods will have different amounts of calories per cup and treats add calories, too - so keep an eye on that.
  • If your dog is rapidly losing or gaining weight it may have a health issue, schedule a vet visit.
How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies are busy growing and burn lots of energy so they need to eat regularly. Start your pup off with five meals a day, then switch to four meals a day at three months old, and then switch to three daily meals at six months of age. Use our dog food finder to pick a food that’s appropriate for your pup.

Adult dogs don’t need to eat as often as puppies. Many dogs do best with consistent feeding times which can also help with their digestion and regular potty. Two or three times a day works great for most dogs. For example, you can feed once in the morning and once in the evening - or simply feed your dog at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Either way, the key is consistency! Dogs should be fed at least twice a day, though, because if more than 12 hours pass between meals their stomachs can become hyper-acidic which can cause nausea. Something to keep in mind when planning your day.

Some people prefer “free feeding” where you leave food out for your dog all day. It’s definitely convenient and some dogs do well on free feeding. However, many dogs can start to overeat and gain weight. Additionally, if you have several dogs it can be tricky to keep track of each dog’s diet as you might have a strong-willed power-eater and a more timid dog that doesn’t get enough food. So for most dogs we recommend a regular daily feeding schedule. Keep it simple at 2-3 times per day and you’re set.

How can I know if my dog is doing well on a food?

A high quality dog food will provide all the required nutrition for your dog to have consistently high energy,  fresh breath, a shiny coat, and poop that is not too loose or too dry. In short, your dog is feeling great and has lots of energy. Oh yes, and of course it’s also important that your dog maintains a healthy weight when eating the food.

Look out for signs of trouble: If your dog eats regularly but then suddenly breaks its eating habits it can be a sign of a health issue. Dogs are creatures of habit so if your dog usually cleans out the bowl but then food suddenly stays left over it could mean that something is wrong. So if you notice a lack of appetite or rapid weight changes, please schedule a vet appointment.

In general, we recommend using our free dog food finder to choose a high end food for your dog and budget.

Should I feed wet or dry dog food?

Let’s start with the basics: Both wet and dry dog food meet the same nutrient requirements to keep your dog healthy. So your dog can be happy and healthy on both. However, wet food mostly consists of water (often 75% or more) so canned diets are generally more expensive than dry foods because you’re paying for a lot of water weight.

Most dog owners choose dry dog foods because they are convenient, affordable and easy to store. We tend to agree, dry foods are a great choice for most dogs! But if your dog is a picky eater or has dental issues, canned foods can be a good option. You can also try to add a little wet food to a diet that’s mostly dry food to get your dog more interested. Always talk to your vet and make sure that a dog food is the right choice for your dog. And no matter which type of food you plan to feed, check out our list of the best dog foods.

What’s the best way to store dog food?

To keep your dog’s food fresh and nutritious make sure to store it in a cool, dry and dark place. Here is why: Food is spoiled through exposure to light, air, heat, and humidity so try to reduce all of these ways food can spoil for optimal freshness.

Let’s talk about storage: You can either use the original packaging or use plastic, glass or metal bins that seal off any extra air. The packaging your dog food comes in is actually designed specifically to store dog food for a long period of time, so it’s definitely a good option. If you want to use a different container, keep the original bag and put it in a new container - this way you will also have the expiration date and other info handy.

Here are some tips to keep your dog food fresh:

  • Check the expiration date and buy food with a date as far as possible in the future.
  • Open canned food should be eaten within 5-7 days and always stored in the fridge.
  • Open dry food (kibble) should be eaten within 4-5 weeks and stored in a cool, dry place.
  • You can leave kibble out in the bowl for up to a day.
  • Buying smaller bags of food means food will be fresher in general.
  • Wash pet food containers and feeding bowls regularly.
  • Don’t mix old and new food, just throw out the old food and feed fresh.
  • If you feed dehydrated food, protect it from moisture.
  • And if you feed raw food, check the packaging for storage instructions.
What’s the best way to transition to a new dog food?

There are lots of reasons why you might want to switch dog foods. You might have a dog with high culinary standards and nothing will do until you find that perfect dog food. Or you’re switching foods as your dog gets older, going from puppy to adult to senior food. In any case, here’s when and how to transition your dog to new food.

Puppies should eat special puppy food until about 12 months of age. If you have a large breed puppy, feed large breed puppy food to ensure your dog gets the right nutrients. Dogs 7 years and older should transition to a senior dog food. Each dog is different, though, so always ask your vet for when to start the transition.

The key to transitioning to a new dog food is to do it very slowly. This helps to prevent upset stomachs and illness. Most dogs you can gradually change to a new food over seven days, but dogs with sensitive stomachs may need several weeks to transition. If in doubt, take it easy and go extra slow. You dog will thank you. Here’s how you switch to a new dog food over seven days.

Days 1-2
Mix 25% of the new food with 75% of the old.

Days 3-4
Mix 50% of the new food with 50% of the old.

Days 5-6
Mix 75% of the new food with 25% of the old.

Day 7+
Use 100% of the new food

Check carefully how your dog reacts to the new food. If she stops eating, vomits or has diarrhea do not feed more of the new food and talk to your vet. Check out the best wet and dry dog foods here.

FAQ Sources

Mawby D, Bartges JW, Moyers T, et. al. Comparison of body fat estimates by dual-energy x-rayabsorptiometry and deuterium oxide dilution in client owned dogs. Compendium 2001; 23 (9A): 70

Laflamme DP. Development and Validation of a Body Condition Score System for Dogs. Canine PracticeJuly/August 1997; 22:10-15

Kealy, et. al. Effects of Diet Restriction on Life Span and Age-Related Changes in Dogs. JAVMA 2002; 220:1315-1320

https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/dr-coates/2015/july/are-you-feeding-your-dog-right-amount-32905

https://research.unc.edu/files/2012/11/CCM3_032387.pdf

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-much-should-i-feed-my-dog/

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/feeding-time#1

https://www.nap.edu/resource/10668/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf

http://www.wec.ufl.edu/floridaquail/Documents/FEEDING%20THE%20HIGH%20PERFORMANCE%20BIRD%20DOG.pdf

https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1181&context=honors

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-many-times-a-day-should-a-dog-eat/

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feeding-times-and-frequency-for-your-dog

http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/03/should-i-feed-canned-or-dry-food/

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/20130205/what-pet-food-should-i-feed

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.623.7700&rep=rep1&type=pdf

https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates/2012/apr/how_to_keep_dog_food_fresh-13975

http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/03/when-should-i-switch-my-pet-to-a-senior-diet/

https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates/2012/feb/how_to_switch_dog_foods-12550

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