Adjusting a Dog’s Food Portions

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Over the past few weeks, I have detailed the steps that are needed to determine the proper amount of food to feed a dog each day. The steps involve a few calculations but are well worth the effort in the long run.   For those pet parents who have worked through the steps, determined a daily pet feeding plan based on calorie needs, and who are accurately measuring portions and accounting for treats, I offer a big congratulations! Yet, there is one final step that is needed to ensure that your pet is getting the right amount of food each day.


The Last Step in Determining a Dog’s Proper Food Portions

With all of the calculating and measuring that I have recommended, you might ask what could possibly be left to do. The answer is simple. Observe your dog’s body condition for 3-4 weeks and see how they are responding to the new feeding amounts. You see, calculating a dog’s daily calorie burn provides a good estimate to use to develop a feeding plan. However, there are several factors that could cause the estimate (or the feeding plan) to be a little off, and only by observing the dog’s body can an owner make necessary tweaks, if any, to keep the dog trim and healthy. If your dog seems to be gaining or losing a bit of fat, an adjustment is necessary.

calculate measure calibrate

There are several factors that could alter a dog’s feeding plan from the originally calculated plan.
The dog’s metabolic rate is slightly different from normal. Although most dogs of similar size are very alike in terms of their metabolism, some might have a slightly lower or higher metabolic rate than normal.   In these cases, their daily calorie needs (and thus their daily food needs) should be adjusted accordingly based on how their body is reacting.


Daily exercise is different than planned. It is very common for pet owners to plan on a certain amount of exercise for their dog and then life gets in the way and the dog does not get as much as planned. If you find that you are unable to exercise your pet as much as you thought, than go back and recalculate your pet’s daily calorie burn and recalibrate the feeding portion accordingly. The same logic holds true when the dog is getting more exercise than planned.


Treats are sabotaging the strategy. This is probably the most common reason that pet owners, even those who are diligent about their pet’s food portions, end up with overweight pets. Treats contain calories and over treating or not accounting for treats accurately will quickly lead to a fat dog. Kids and visiting relatives and make it hard to keep track, which is why having a daily, pre-counted treat bag is a smart way to control treating.


Table scraps are adding calories to the plan. Like treats, giving a dog table scraps will add to their daily calorie total. If you want to give your dog some table scraps from your own meals, that is fine. But adjust the dogs other treats accordingly so that their daily calorie intake is in line with their daily calorie burn.


It is so important to keep a dog at a trim and healthy weight. In order to do this, a pet owner must calculate, measure, and then calibrate, if necessary, their dog’s daily feeding amounts based on how the dog’s body is actually looking.

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  1. yes, treats can be a challenge :o) it’s not easy to add it to the food plan before we give it to the dog… maybe it makes sense to calculate some treats to the daily plan in advance?
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog TRAVEL TUESDAYMy Profile

  2. Treats definitely can throw off the plan along with those table scraps. Also, if you have family members that occasionally sneak tidbits to the dog, that can make it even more difficult to manage their weight.
    Elaine recently posted…Check Your Petiquette Quiz! – How’s Your Dog Etiquette?My Profile

  3. We’re definitely in the calibration phase. Penny recently switched over to adult food so we’ll need to see what portion size works best. At the moment she’s eating the same amount as Eko, but as she’s still growing and zooming, the pup remains in good shape.

  4. This is a great series and very helpful. Thanks!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…A Day at the Weiner Dog RacesMy Profile

  5. Great tips, thanks!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  6. Certain breeds have different calorie burns too. The Kuvasz has an extremely efficient metabolism, Katie barely eats more than Bailie or me, but she is twice the weight. She has always eaten a small amount of food for her size, but Mom read about the breed and found this to be pretty standard even with lots of exercise. No matter, we generally eat the same portions, but if we are looking a tad bit thick or thin, our food is adjusted slightly. One has to constantly monitor portions since so many factors change the amount of food a dog needs.
    Emma recently posted…On The Farm Say No To Ticks And Yes to ChickenMy Profile

  7. Important to pay attention. Even if you don’t measure the calories, you can check your dog’s weight by feeling or visually or even on the scale.
    De Hufford recently posted…Tuesday Tails, Aussie StyleMy Profile

  8. That’s exactly what we did when transitioning Missy & Buzz over to a raw diet ~ following the feeding guidelines of raw dog food companies, a general raw feeding formula (to feed 2-3% of the dog’s ideal adult body weight) AND observing their body condition! The latter made us decrease Missy’s daily food allowance, and increase Buzz’s!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…3 Months Into Raw Feeding And This Rookie Raw Feeder Keeps Learning!My Profile

  9. Great series!

    I’m finding that vets’ body index evaluations are creeping toward thinking that fat is normal. When R had to go to the emergency vet recently, they gave him a score that indicated that he was in poor shape because he was too thin. Yet, he’s exactly the weight that his regular vet and orthopod want him to be. Grrr… People are being given bad messages from some vets.
    KB recently posted…Good Bye to the Lizard HeadMy Profile

    • Exactly – the more overweight becomes common, the more accepted it is and the more ‘normal’ it seems. Such a problem for dogs AND humans.
      mkob recently posted…Adjusting a Dog’s Food PortionsMy Profile

  10. We adjust the amount of food being fed in the summer vs winter and hunting season. We keep the type of food the same but adjust the amount.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…And Then There Was OneMy Profile

  11. We keep a close eye on things, and try to be observant about their body condition. Both girls got weighed at the vet this week and have maintained, and even lost a little (more treats for them, they say yay!).
    Jan K recently posted…The Rest of the StoryMy Profile

  12. Well done sussing this whole thing out. Always good to see the obvious in B&W. 🙂

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