Knowing how much to feed your dog, starts with knowing his current weight. Weight is usually recorded at every vet appointment, so check the paperwork you received at the last visit.
Guessing your dog’s weight is not recommended—I saw some remarkably inaccurate guesses when I worked at the spay/neuter clinic.
If it’s been more than three months since his last appointment, the weight may not be accurate now. Ring up the office and see if you can come in just to weigh the dog. Visits to the vet that don’t involve any medical work are great for training anyway!
Current Body Condition
Almost more important than his weight, is his body condition. Body condition scoring is a way to determine whether a dog is underweight, healthy weight, or overweight. A number on the scale is just a number on the scale without context. Check out my how-to video on assessing your dog’s body condition.
Pro Tip: some breeds are harder to score than others. If you have questions about what your dog’s ideal body condition looks like, ask your vet!
All dog food comes with feeding guidelines printed right on the bag or can. The guide lists ranges of weight and the corresponding amount of food.
For example, your bag might indicate a 25 to 50 pound dog should eat between 2 and 2 2/3 cups of food daily. If your dog is 25 pounds, his caloric needs will likely fall on the lower end, closer to 2 cups, and if your dog is 50 pounds, his caloric needs will likely fall on the upper end, closer to 2 2/3 cups.
Pro Tip: when measuring the food, use a standard kitchen measuring cup. Not a Route 44 cup.
Once you’ve decided on a daily amount, continue to check your dog’s body condition a couple times a month. Some dogs need less than the bag indicates, and some need more.
If your dog seems to have trouble keeping weight on or off, please talk with your vet. There may be underlying medical issues that need to be addressed for your dog’s well being.