Nutrition Guidelines for Adult Dogs

Nutritional requirements vary from one dog to the next. The amount of food an adult dog needs depends upon his size and level of activity. Consider these tips when feeding your adult dog:

  • Your dog’s lifestyle is a factor. A dog of normal activity level should be fed a ‘maintenance’ diet. A sedentary ‘couch potato‘ should be fed about ten percent below maintenance. On the other hand, a highly active dog requires 20 to 40% above maintenance.
  • Working dogs such as cattle dogs or police dogs may require maintenance plus 40% or, depending on the workload, even up to 70%.
  • Sick dogs, pregnant or nursing dogs, dogs recovering from surgery, and all puppies require extra nutrition above maintenance.
  • Show dogs need maintenance plus extra, to provide energy for maintaining high coat quality and countering stress.
  • Temperature extremes can increase a dog’s energy needs, meaning they require more food.

Dog owners have three options for feeding: portion controlled feeding, free feeding, or timed feeding.

  • Portion controlled feeding, where a daily measured portion is divided into one or two meals, ensures that your dog gets the proper amount of nutrition. Sick dogs, pregnant or nursing dogs, dogs recovering from illness or injury, and puppies may require more than two meals a day.
  • Free-feeding is an option for nursing dogs, or if you are feeding dry food. One disadvantage of free-feeding many dogs is their tendency to overeat and become overweight. Large breed puppies who overeat may suffer developmental bone diseases.
  • In the timed feeding method, a measured portion of food is offered and then taken up after a certain period of time. Recently weaned puppies are sometimes offered food for 30 minutes, two or three times a day. Any amount not eaten within 30 minutes is taken up until the next feeding time.

Your veterinarian is your best source for advice on feeding your dog.

Source: Adapted from the ASPCA