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Posted on 10-05-2012

How much food should I feed my dog? This is a common question owners ask in our office. The answer will vary for each owner and dog.

To most effectively help you, our staff, here at Eagle Animal Hospital may ask you certain questions, bigstock_English_Bulldog_With_Empty_Bow_3884379_1.jpg

  1. How active is your dog? If your dog is a couch potato, then they will require fewer calories. If they play ball all day (even though you're exhausted) then they will require more calories.
  2. Is your dog anxious or calm? Anxious dogs can be actively pacing or inactive and still burning calories. Calm dogs will be more inclined to gain weight depending on their activity level.
  3. Do you free feed your pet or have scheduled feeding times? Free feeding can lead to picky eating habits. This makes it difficult to know how much your dog is actually eating. Putting a measured amount of food down, at set times of the day, and discarding any remaining food after 15 minutes will ensure healthy eating habits. If your pet becomes ill and has a decreased appetite, a scheduled feeding time and amount will allow you to know how much they are actually eating.
  4. How do you measure your dog's food? A measuring cup should be used to know how much you are feeding. Most people use a regular plastic drinking glass or a plastic container as a food scoop, but this is not an accurate measurement.

Feeling your pet along their rib cage and noting if they have a waistline allows us to individually assess each dog. For instance, if you cannot feel your dog's ribs (under a layer of fat) or your dogs waist (behind the rib cage) does not turn in slightly, then your dog is overweight. On the other hand, if you can easily feel the ribs or the backbone is prominent, then your dog is underweight. You can adjust how much you feed by visually assessing you dog, or your veterinarian can use a body condition scoring system to most accurately inform you.

Female dogs vs male dogs may require different amounts of calories: Male dogs that are intact have more muscle, thus require more calories than an intact female. Female dogs tend to carry more body fat for reproduction and generally eat less than male dogs. Neutered dogs that remain on the same calorie intake will become obese if not adjusted. Their hormones decrease and they spend less energy searching for females.

Whether your dog is determined to be over or underweight, gradually increasing or decreasing your pet's food may help obtain the proper weight that your pet needs to be healthy. Diets labeled less active (or indoor formula, for cats) are ideal for weight loss. This way your pets can continue to eat the same volume of food for less calories. For weight gain, diets labeled for active dogs are ideal. The staff at Eagle Animal Hospital will help you determine which diet is appropriate and/or if you should cut back or add to your dog's diet. Feel free to come in to our Chester Springs vet hospital to weigh your pet on our scale and ask for advice.

Eagle Animal Hospital serves Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore and surrounding areas.

Written by Jennifer Styer, veterinary technician

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