A healthy raw meal provides sufficient amounts of all the nutrients that your dog’s body needs. The question is, how much is enough?
In the raw feeding world, you’ll often hear the guidance of feeding 2 to 3 percent of your dog’s body weight.
And while this advice may have very well seated intentions, it doesn’t take into account:
- Your dog’s activity level
- Their weight
- Their age
- What ingredients are used in the meal
Younger puppies in their growth stage require more calories than adult dogs. Smaller dogs, who are also active, require more calories than their larger, less active counterparts.
And toy breeds start off at an even higher baseline of 5 to 6 percent of their body weight.
While sporting dogs that are getting five or more hours of exercise a day will require even more food.
Another factor that the 2 to 3 percent body rule doesn’t consider is if the dog in front of you is at its ideal weight or needs to be fed less (when trying to reduce weight) or more (when trying to gain weight).
And then the last deciding factor is what your bowl consists of.
If you are feeding fatty meat (such as 80/20 ground beef), then you will feed less food than if your main protein was lean with all the fat trimmed.
Feeding Chart For Active Raw Fed Dog – Beef Recipe
To illustrate below you’ll find a table that shows how much food to feed a dog based on these variables:
- Active dog that gets out of the house. Activity is beyond routine walks. The dog is running hard or hiking over three miles.
- Compares two beef recipes. One formulated with a fattier cut of beef (80/20) versus another recipe that has all the fat trimmed off and the main protein is lean beef.
In the case of the table below, a 20-pound dog would be fed a total of 10.96 oz of food daily, which represents about 3.4% of their body weight when fed a meal that is made with 80/20 beef.
Note: The amounts stated are daily allowances and if you feed two meals a day you would split this amount in half.
But if the meal was made with round, bottom steak that was lean and had all the fat trimmed off, then this active dog would need 14.9 oz of food, representing 4.7% of their body weight.
If we only calculated their needs based on 2% that would mean they only get 6.4 oz of food which in both scenarios of these two beef recipes, that active 20-pound dog would be underfed.
- Toy breed dogs require about 40 calories per pound.
- The average for the range of dogs between 20 and 180 pounds is approximately 20 calories per pound.
- The amount you feed will vary greatly depending on how much fat is used in the meal.
- If you only went by the 2% guideline, you would be underfeeding all dogs that are less than 40 pounds.
- If your giant breed dog isn’t getting 2 to 3 hours of active movement, then you want to feed them less than the 2% body weight.
How to Calculate How Much To Feed Your Dog
A nutritionist such as myself can identify how much food to feed your dog based on the information you provide.
Alternatively, you can use online calculators and then use your eyes to adjust accordingly.
For example, if you notice your dog is gaining weight, feed less food or, if they are too skinny, then increase the amount of food to provide.
It’s All Personalized To Your Dog
Just like humans don’t have a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the amount of food we eat every day, the same goes for our dogs.
When you decide to take your dog’s meals into your own hands, you need to commit to learning about food.
You can use apps like Cronometer (which pulls from the USDA food database) to help you plan out your dog’s daily meals.
And then you should assess your dog’s body condition score on a regular basis.
Keeping your dog at the ideal weight is best for their health. An overweight dog tends to live 2.9 years less than a dog at its ideal weight. You can view body condition score charts HERE.