How much should I be feeding my pet?
I wish the answer to this one was simple. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the amount of food that you "should" be feeding to your pet, but let me help you better understand why. There will naturally be differing requirements based on the size, weight, breed, amount of activity and the level of health of each animal, and often times it is a matter of trial and observation that will help you to find your pets happy medium.
There are many feeding tables available these days that may provide some general guidance based on the weight of your animal, however given that many pets are overweight or obese, they are not always a good indicator to go by.
When it comes to feeding your pet commercially prepared foods many have a recommended feeding guide on the side of the packet or box which theoretically should provide guidance based on the actual make up of that particular food with regard to your pets nutritional and energy requirements. I would ALWAYS recommend starting at the low end of what is suggested for your pets weight and for a few good reasons.
Firstly, as I've already mentioned, more often than not these days our pets are overweight, therefore feeding at the lower end of the listed requirements may help them to reach a healthier weight range (& maintain that) without too much fuss. Secondly pet food manufacturers really only have a vested interest in making money, and it is therefore in their best interest to have you overfeeding your animals and thus purchasing more food more often. I know this may sound cynical however when we get into the guts of what's actually in commercial feeds in a later post you will begin to understand just how much these companies really don't care in the slightest about the long term health of your beloved furry friends.
PREY MODEL / RAW FOOD
Many people have realised the benefits to their pets health and longevity that comes with homemade diets, particularly raw feeding. These diets also come in many shapes and sizes with pet parents weighing in on what they feel works best for them and their animals, from paleo, grain-free, prey model, biologically appropriate raw food diets (BARF) and many variations in between. (We'll look at these in more depth in a future blog post).
As a general guide I find it easy to calculate food requirements as a percentage of body weight based on age as follows:
Puppies (Small to Medium breeds): 4-5% of body weight per day
Puppies (Large & Giant breeds): 3-5% of body weight per day
Adult Dogs: 2-3% of body weight per day
Adult Dogs (Working dogs / excessive exercise): 3-6% of body weight per day
Cats (Maintenance): 3% of body weight per day (between 2-4% is a general guideline depending on whether you need to increase or decrease weight.
These percentages can obviously be decreased or increased as necessary if you are trying to help an animal lose weight or gain weight based on their health, condition and exercise requirements.
You can keep track of your animals weight either by using a scale to measure any ups and downs, whether that be at home, or at your local pet store or vet, or you can use Body Condition charts that are referred to by many vets as they give a more specific indication of what a 'healthy' animal looks and feels like rather than relying on weight alone. To help you out here are two Body Condition charts from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association I've found helpful for both Cats and Dogs.
So how much attention do you pay to the amount of food you feed your pet? Do you weigh out portions, use cups, or just eyeball amounts now that you've been doing it for a while? Head on over to our Facebook page and join in the conversation!