How Much Should I Feed My Dog And Why Does It Matter?

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how much should i feed my dog

You should feed your dog depending on its age, weight, health conditions, and many other things. You should always talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet. 

Read further to learn everything you need to know about this topic.

Why Does My Dog’s Food Amount Matter?

A poor diet can cause many dog illnesses. Below you will find some of the common health conditions caused by nutrition.

  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal Illness
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Skin & fur conditions
  • Bladder infections and stones
  • Diarrhea

How to Find the Right Amount of Food for Your Dog?

There are several factors to consider if you want to keep your dog healthy.

Let’s talk below a little bit about each one. 

How much should I feed my dog by weight?

One of the rules is to calculate your dog’s weight and feed it based on it.

Toy dogs ( under 10 pounds)

They are the smallest dogs out there. Toy dogs eat smaller amounts, so pay attention to how much you feed them.

You should feed your dog:

  • ⅓ cup per day if it weighs 3 pounds
  • ½ cup per day if weighs 6 pounds.

Examples of Toy Dogs:  Maltese, Chinese Crested, Poodle, Pomeranian

Small dogs (10-20 pounds)

It’s a very tiny difference between a toy and small breeds. That’s why you have to be careful when you weigh your dog.

You should feed your dog: 

  • 3/4 cup per day if it weighs 10 pounds
  • 1 cup per day if it weighs 15 pounds
  • 1 2/3 cups per day if weighs 20 pounds

Examples of Small Dogs: Shih Tzu, Pug, Boston Terrier  

Medium dogs (30-50 pounds)

Most families tend to adopt medium dogs for many reasons. Some of them have a lot of energy, while others tend to be calmer. 

You should feed your dog: 

  • 1 3/4 cups per day if it weighs 30 pounds
  • 2 1/4 cups per day if it weighs 40 pounds
  • 2 2/3 cups per day if it weighs 50 pounds

Examples of Medium Dogs: Australian Cattle Dog, Brittany, Bulldog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Large dogs ( 60-100+ pounds)

They are more likely to get along with more than one member of the family. You can train large dogs easier because they have higher intelligence. 

You should feed your dog:

  • 3 cups per day if it weighs 60 pounds
  • 3 1/2 cups per day if it weighs 70 pounds
  • 3 3/4 cups per day if it weighs 80 pounds
  • 4 1/4 cups per day if it weighs 90 pounds
  • 4 1/2 cups per day if it weighs 100 pounds

If your dog reaches over 100 pounds, add an extra 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds.

Examples of Large Dogs: Bernese Mountain Dog, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane

How much should I feed my dog by age?

  • 6-12 weeks: Four feedings a day are usually adequate to meet nutritional demands. You should feed large breeds unmoistened dry food by 9 or 10 weeks; small breeds by 12 or 13 weeks.[1]
  • 3-6 months: During this period decrease feeding from four to three times a day
  • 6-12 months: Reduce the feeding from three to twice a day. Switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to adult maintenance food

Because they grow so fast in such a short time, they must have balanced nutrition.

It is important to weigh them from time to time and make sure that they are thriving.

If their mother is there, make sure that they drink her milk shortly after being born until their first few days.

This is important because the first milk is very rich in antibodies. They help the puppies fight off disease until they build an immune system of their own.

How much should I feed my dog by health conditions?

Another rule you have to keep in mind when feeding your dog is that you have to feed it according to its medical conditions.


Animals with kidney disease must eat moist foods, based on low protein and phosphorus.

It’s essential for all pets to be on diets that keep them hydrated so the kidneys can flush themselves out. 

That doesn’t mean that you need to buy canned dog food that helps with kidney disease. It doesn’t mean you should stay away from dry food brands made for kidney disease either.


Diets high in fat can cause inflammation of the pancreas, causing pancreatitis. It’s recommended for pets with this condition to adopt low-fat diets.


When animals eat too many carbohydrates (sugar), they can develop diabetes. Diabetes affects the regulation of blood sugar. Moreover, this condition could lead to other health issues.


Studies have shown that dogs who are on a wet diet develop signs of periodontal disease earlier in life.

Chewing materials can reduce tartar and/or plaque buildup and clean the surface of the teeth.


Buy foods that have meat as the first ingredient and rice as the main grain in the formula.

It’s important your dog gets enough to eat without going overboard. Calorie counting is the usual solution.

You should visit a vet and him about your dog’s health conditions. He will explain to you how you should feed your dog based on the specifics of your dog’s case.

Pregnant Dogs

Pregnant dogs are a different

Weeks 1-6 of pregnancy

Once you know your dog is pregnant, the goal for the first six weeks is the maintenance of her ideal weight. During this period, the embryos are growing.

In fact, there is no increase in the pregnant dog’s energy requirements. You should keep her on an adult maintenance diet.

Due to the hormonal changes, you may see some fluctuations in appetite. Don’t panic, this is normal. But if it persists or she starts losing weight, you should take her to your vet for a check.

Weeks 6-9 of pregnancy

At approximately day 40, two main changes start to occur:

  • The energy and nutrient needs of your pregnant dog start to increase.
  • Foetuses start to occupy more of the abdomen. The space she has to accommodate the food in her stomach starts to decrease.

For these reasons, it is important that at this point you adjust her diet.

 If you know she is expecting a large litter she will need extra energy and nutrient boost.

In case she is only expecting one, you may need to be more cautious with the amount of food

From week 6

Feeding a puppy food from this stage is important.

In fact, it is higher in energy, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals, compared to adult food.

All these nutrients are important to support your dog during the latter stages. It also helps to provide her puppies with the nutrients they need to develop.

A lot of weight gain can cause difficulty giving birth. Moreover, it reduces the puppies’ chances of survival after birth. 

Avoid Feeding Before Exercise

Don’t feed your dog right before or right after intense exercise. This may predispose the dog’s stomach to bloat, especially for large breeds.

A general rule of thumb is to not feed dogs 1-2 hours before or after exercising.

Slow Your Dog

Slow your dog down if he is a fast eater. There are special feeding bowls that give your dog a challenge. You can use them to decrease their eating speed.

You can also spread the food on a clean floor which makes the dog take longer to eat as they look for the food.

You can also find interactive feeders/toys that can slow your dog’s eating down and serve as a fun game. Check out my article about 7 Kong Stuffing Recipes.

The bottom line

Once again,  always measure each serving.  Don’t forget to check your dog’s weight once a month.

In the end, it’s up to you and your vet to figure out what will work best for your dog. But now that you know more about how much food they need depending on their size and activity level, feeding time should be a little easier.

Remember, if there’s any question at all as far as whether or not something is safe for them to eat, don’t feed it! Always talk to your vet first!

Photo of author
Andrei Bratu
Andrei is the owner of Dog Food Camp and manages the team of expert writers on the site. He is passionate about helping dog lovers learn about canine nutrition.

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