As a veterinarian, I am often asked about the proper amount of food to feed a dog or a cat, especially for puppies and kittens. Now that I am a new mother, I can see the correlation to infant care. I have wondered how much milk to feed my young baby. Just like in babies, there is no one answer that will fit every individual pet. The amount of food a pet requires depends on many factors such as their age, their activity level, their health status, if they are spayed or neutered and the food itself. Now there are calculations that can be done to determine a pet’s energy requirements such as:
RER* (kcal/day)= 70(body weight in kg)0.75 or RER=15 kcal/lb dog
*Resting Energy Requirement
However, there is a wide margin of error in these calculations, and most pet food packages do not mention the number of kcal per amount of the food. That leaves us with just good old-fashioned observational skills. Pet foods usually have recommended feeding amount ranges on them based on the weight of the pet. I often find however that these amounts are much higher than what the pet actually needs. As a starting point, I usually recommend feeding the lower end of the range and observing the pet’s body condition. If the pet is losing weight and the ribs are visible, the amount of food needs to be increased. If your pet is gaining a lot of weight and the ribs cannot be felt, the amount of food needs to be decreased. Body condition is a much better gauge than the appearance of satiety. I have seen many overweight pets that will eat as long as there is food in front of them and act as if they are starving if their food bowls are not kept filled to the brim 24/7.
The above information applies to pets that are at an ideal weight and to growing puppies and kittens. If your pet is already over or underweight, you need to feed based on their recommended weight, not their current weight. If your pet is recovering from an illness, surgery, or if you do not know what their recommended weight is, consult your veterinarian for feeding advice.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at www.zutillvet.com/contact-us.html