How Much to Feed the Raw Fed Dog
Posted on January 29 2020
You got your first delivery of Doggy Moggy Beef - now what? How much do you feed your dog?
GUIDELINES NOT RULES
When deciding how much to feed your dog, think in terms of guidelines not rules. Consider all the variables that might affect your decision. Age of the dog and its level of physical activity. Are they healthy? Is your dog in heat? Is your dog pregnant/nursing? Are they currently at a healthy weight? Are they lay-abouts indoors or are they roaming the property outdoors? What other food are they receiving during the day?
Take for example our Bernedoodle, Philly. It was a no brainer that when she was pregnant and nursing she required more food to fuel her body and her puppies. After the puppies were weaned, it became obvious she was gaining weight and we needed to reduce the amount she was being fed as the demands on her body returned to normal. What worked before, wasn’t working any more. We lowered her food intake, added some more exercise and she is now back to her ideal weight.
The variables in your dog’s life can change so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s food intake depending on what season of life they are in. The percentages below are guidelines, not rules. Much like monitoring our own weight and food intake, we need to pay attention to our dogs and take action when it is obvious that changes need to be made.
IS YOUR DOG AN IDEAL WEIGHT
It’s important to weigh your dog when you start them on a raw food diet for the following reasons:
- The recommended feeding quantity is based on a dog’s weight.
- It provides a baseline to determine weight gain or loss on their new diet.
- It allows you to research their ideal weight against the actual weight and decide if you need to factor weight gain or loss into the picture.
In addition to weighing them, we recommend getting into the habit of assessing your dog weekly. Can their ribs be felt? Does the belly tuck up when seen from the side? Do they have a visible waist when looking from above? These are all indicators of a healthy weight.
HOW MUCH TO FEED - PUPPY
Puppies grow rapidly. Because of this, you will be feeding them more to fuel their growth. Ideally, puppies under 6 months should be fed three times a day; this is especially important for smaller breed dogs as they run the risk of becoming hypoglycemic.
Puppy Feeding Frequency
2-6 Months - 3 meals per day
6-12 months - 2 meals per day
1 + year - 2 meals or 1 meal (Figure it out with your pet)
There are two ways to determine how much to feed. The first is calculating a percentage of their ideal adult weight. If your dog is a purebred dog or a dog from a breeder where you know the parents, this might be easy for you to figure out. A simple google search will return the average weight of your breed or you can ask your vet for their advice. Once you decide the ideal weight you are going to base your calculations on, you can calculate 2-3% of that ideal weight to get your feeding amount.
If you aren’t sure what their ideal adult weight will be, the second option would be to use the outline listed below.
2 - 4 months = 8%-10% of current weight
4 - 6 months = 6% - 8% of current weight
6 - 8 months = 4% - 6% of current weight
8 - 12 months = 2% - 4% of current weight
If you’re interested in learning more about feeding puppies a raw diet, you can find our Guide to Feeding Raw to Puppies here.
HOW MUCH TO FEED - ADULT DOG
Once your dog reaches a year old, your feeding amounts can drop to 1%-2% of their current body weight. There are varying opinions on this with some recommending 2-3%. Our recommendation is one that we find works for us and most of our clients. Again, these are guidelines. Work with your dog, monitor their weight and increase or decrease their food as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
HOW ACTIVE IS YOUR DOG
When determining what percentage to work with one of the most important aspects to consider is your dog's activity level. Below is a guide originally found on the Primal Pooch website using our percentage recommendation to help determine where your dog might sit.
Inactive - A dog that spends most of their time indoors with smaller bursts of activity and walks for maximum a half hour a day. These dogs will fall on the lower end of the scale and should start at 1%.
Average - A dog that gets an hour to a couple hours of exercise everyday can start at 1% to 1.5%.
Active - An active dog spends most of their time outside with activity filling most of their day. They are dogs who enjoy lots of hiking, biking, and playing with their humans. These dogs would have food intake at 1.5% to 2% of their weight.
German Shepherd Adult Male weighs 80 lbs. He spends most of his days outside, even in the winter (except of course 30) and is physically active with his human friends.
80 lbs x 2% or 0.02 = 1.6 lbs of food per day
RAW VS. KIBBLE
If you are transitioning from a kibble diet to raw there are a couple scenarios you might find yourself in.
You might find that your dog loses weight initially. This is because your dog is moving from a highly processed diet much like a human diet filled with fast food to a nutrient dense real food diet. Your dog's body is going to adjust to the new way of eating and may lean out in the process. Don’t worry, just adjust your feedings accordingly.
The food might look a little scarce in the bowl prompting you to wonder if you are feeding enough. Remember that raw is much more calorie dense due to the higher nutritional content, than kibble which is higher in starches and carbohydrates. The goal is to work the guidelines and find the amount that satisfies your dog and keeps them at a healthy weight.
Remember they are guidelines not rules. Think of the guidelines as your starting point. It’s our responsibility as dog owners to ensure we are feeding the proper amounts to our dogs. We need to be honest about our dog’s activity level and be mindful of where they are in life, adjusting their food intake accordingly. These are the same principles we apply to our own food intake and weight management as dog owners. It’s not rocket science but it does require attention and being intentional to keep ourselves and our dogs healthy.
SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY
What percentage do you feed your dog(s)? Do you have stories of life events with your dog that prompted a change in how much you feed?