Feeding Time: How to Measure Dog Food Correctly?

Feeding your dog occasionally requires some mathematical gymnastics as you calculate how much kibble they need, how often, and what else to add to their food bowls (supplements) to meet their nutritional needs on a daily basis.

If your dog has special needs, the more calculations you need to make to ensure accuracy in feeding them their special food.

Our dogs’ food play an important role in their wellness, but their diet may also be the reason behind their deterioration or malnutrition if you’ve calculated their intake wrongly.

Pet Obesity 

Accurate dog food measurement is even more important and timely as data received from the American Veterinary Medical Association gives a chilling report: obesity run rampant among pets in the USA. To be precise, 35% of US-based pets are overweight or obese.   

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has even more sobering stats: 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the USA were overweight or obese based on numbers culled from a 2018 survey of dog owners.   

Dogs will be dogs: they will run after a meat truck like a starving stray who hasn’t fed in a week even if you just fed them an hour ago. It’s up to us, the pet owners, to rein in their food drive and feed them only what they need.   

Excessive snacking and treats should be controlled so your pets maintain a healthy weight. Eyeballing is even worse as there’s no way to track errors in over- or under-feeding.

Are you Overestimating your Measurements? 

 A research study published in Science News daily points to data that dog owners are often inaccurate when measuring out dry dog food for their pets. Some overestimate by as much as 152%! When repeated daily, these excess kibble add up, hence the obesity problem. 

Common Measuring Devices Used for Dog Food:

  • standard 2-cup scoop with clear markings
  • 2-cup liquid measuring cup for baking 
  • -1-cup plastic dry food measuring cup 
  • kitchen scale 

These measuring devices are easily available at any dollar store or grocery shops. The most previse of these devices is the kitchen scale, as there’s not much room for error when even each minute gram of food is weighed. The 2-cup liquid measuring cup leads to the most inaccuracies when measuring food portions. 

There are different types of dog food, and each of these kinds may weigh differently. In general, one-cup corresponds to five ounces of dog food, whether dry, wet, or semi-moist. Since their food may weigh differently, consider a little variance. A pound of dog food is equal to three cups.

How Many Cups are in a Pound of Dog Food? 

Different types of dog food need to be weighed according to their consistency. In general, one-cup corresponds to five ounces of dog food, whether dry, wet, or semi-moist. Since food may weigh differently, consider a little variance. A pound of dog food is equal to three cups.

Timeline to Follow for Feeding your Dog

6–12 weeks

With young puppies in early development stage, it’s doubly crucial to choose the right nutrient-dense dog food to ensure their proper growth and development. Feeding the dog with the right type and amount of food ensures maximal absorption of the nutrients in their bodies. At this stage, it’s ideal to feed your pup a total of 4 meals, spaced out in small servings throughout the day to ensure digestion.  

3–6 months

During this timeframe, you can reduce their feeding schedule to three times a day. Remain alert for any changes in your pet’s behavior. If your pup shows increased lethargy, you may need to go back to feeding it the puppy food he ate from 6-12 weeks for a couple of weeks or until it does some more growing before re-introducing the kibble appropriate for 3-6 month-old pups. 

6–12 months

At this age, you may now feed your dog at least twice a day. It is advisable to choose a food type that is nutrient-rich because this timeframe is the stage where the bodily physique of the dog is formed. Females also prepare themselves for reproduction; that is why you should avoid nutrient deficiency.

After Age 1

This is the maturity years of your dog; that is why you can give them half meals twice a day or full meal that is given once daily. This is the time where you can give your dog a variety of meals such as home-cooked meals, dry, wet, or semi-moist.

How Much Calorie Intake Does A Dog Need?

The calorie intake of a dog depends on three factors, which are the dog’s height, weight, and age. If your dog is about 10 pounds, 990 calorie intake is suitable for a puppy, 296 calories for an inactive adult dog, 404 calories for an active adult dog, 520 calories for pregnant dogs, and at least 350 calorie intake for a senior dog. It is important to somehow have a basis about how the calorie intakes your dog needs in its life phase to avoid overfeeding, obesity, and other weight problems.

Different Types of Dog Food

1. Kibble/Dry

The use of dried dog food is the most inexpensive kind of dog food available in the market. No doubt, most dog lovers would choose this kind of dog food for their pets. Kibble or dry dog food does not perish; that is why you don’t need to store it in a refrigerator or in a freezer so you can definitely stock up for future readily use.  

Dry food helps to promote better dental health as the dry texture of the kibble helps reduce tartar buildup as it’s rubbed against the teeth during feeding. There are different kinds of dry dog food that’s why it’s important to choose the right brand with right ingredients to make the dog healthy and full.

 2. Canned Dog Food

Canned dog food is also known as wet food. Majority of dog food brands ensure their products are chock-full of vitamins and minerals such as protein, which is vital to their growth and development. Most dog lovers prefer canned or wet food because it has a long expiry date and is easy to find at any pet store supermarket and other stores, however, it can be expensive than other commercially available dog foods. In choosing for canned dog food, choose for the one that is nutritionally complete, so your dog will truly benefit from it.

3. Semi-Moist

The semi-moist type of dog food is a commercial type that is usually shaped and flavored to resemble a burger, pork chops, or other meat products. This type of dog food contains little nutritional content, mostly artificial food colorings and synthetic flavors. This focuses on boosting the appetite of the dog through the way how the food’s aesthetic looks rather than its nutritional value. It’s suitable to be given to dogs as an infrequent treat.

4. Home Cooked

Commercially available dog foods are not completely nutritious; that is why for the dog’s diet to have a complete range of nutrients, breeders would usually combine a home-cooked meal into the main feed of the dog to ensure that it is filled with nutrients. Giving your dog a home-cooked meal is expensive and quite time-consuming, but it consists of a wide range of nutrients that are vital to your dog’s health.

5. Raw

Raw foods such as raw meats with mixed organs are the most compatible food diet for dogs since they have only small intestines; the acids in their stomach are strong enough to digest the food effectively. If you are used to feeding your dog cooked meals and commercial feeds and wanted to shift into a raw diet, make sure to get advice from the veterinarian to know the risks if there is and you must introduce it to them gradually.

Final Thoughts

Being exact in terms of feeding your dog is the key to avoid weight problems. If your dog has the right weight, you can be sure that it will be healthier and be more active. Your dog will greatly benefit from the food you offered if it is the right kind and right amount.

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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