How Much Food Does Your Pet Need to Achieve an Ideal Weight?

Helping your pet achieve an ideal weight can sometimes seem as tricky as managing your own. Dog and cat food bags may come with an estimated recommendation of the daily requirements for your pet but factors such as age, activity level, as well as health needs can alter this recommended amount, not to mention any snacks or scraps that may slip in between meals. As the owner, and the only one with access to the goods, you get to decide how much food Fluffy and Fido will get each day. Your diligence is key in helping them to achieve optimal health as well as avoid malnutrition and the obesity epidemic responsible for an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and more.

So where does your pet fit in? Is he currently over weight or a little too thin? One way of determining if your pet is overweight is to look at their rib cage. Ribs should be felt but not seen. If you can see your pet’s ribs then he is underweight. Another way is to stand over your pet and look down at their abdomen. Does it stick out in a rounded manner on the sides? This is a sign that he needs to shed more than his winter coat.

One thing is for sure, you can’t rely on your pet to tell you when he’s had enough to eat. Dogs and cats alike will eat as long as their is food in front of them. Most diets and Dr.’s recommend feeding your pet twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. In order to find out how much your pet should eat each day, find out their currant weight. An easy way to do this is to weigh yourself first, next weigh yourself holding your pet, then subtract the lesser number from the greater to get your pet’s weight. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs and while holding your pet you weigh 190 lbs then your pet weighs 40 lbs (190-150=40).

Once you know your pet’s weight, you can use the table below to feed your pet the correct amount of food by a percentage of their body weight in pounds. A pet at a normal and healthy weight can be fed 2.5% of his body weight. For example to maintain a healthy weight for our 40 lb dog, just multiply 40 x 2.5% = 1 pound. Our 40 lb dog needs to eat one pound of food each day which would be a half a pound in the morning and a half a pound in the evening. This does not include treats, so be sure to cut back on portions when treats, meaty bones, or other foods have been given.

If your pet needs to lose a little weight ¬†or needs to eat more to support their active life style then feed them less or more based on the table below. Notice that puppies and pregnant pets need the most amount per day. Talk with your vet about more specific instructions if your pet is a puppy/kitten or is pregnant/lactating, or if you have other concerns. One thing to consider is that some dog food formulas may have more or less calories per pound and the amounts may need to be adjusted accordingly. You can find more information on the companies’ webpage. A raw food or home made diet may be more easily converted from pounds and can be easier to calculate.

1.5% Weight Loss
2.0% Non-Active
2.5% Maintain Weight
3.0% Slight Weight Gain
3.5% Significant Weight Gain
4.0% Kittens/Puppies (8 weeks-1 year)
4.5-8.0% Kittens/Puppies (4-8 weeks)
4.0-8.0% Pregnant/Lactating


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