Five Tips to Make Measuring your Dog’s Food Servings a Habit

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treatbagLast week we discussed why exercise alone does not guarantee that your pet will be slim and fit.  It is the combination of steady exercise and proper feeding that will ensure that your dog is healthy and at their proper weight.


The only way to ensure that you are feeding the correct amount is to measure their servings and account for treats.  Today we will provide five tips to help make measuring part of your normal routine.


There are two pieces of information that you need to know before you can determine proper feedings for your dog:

  1. The amount of calories your dog burns each day.
  2. The number of calories in their food and treats.


You do have these values handy, right?   If not, check out our website tools (the Dog Food Database and the Calorie Tracker) or our iPhone app to determine these values.  With these in hand, you should be able to determine proper portions, after accounting for feeding frequency and treats.  (We will be publishing a post specifically on how to determine serving sizes in the coming weeks).


Five Tips to make it Easy to Measure your Dog’s Food

Assuming you do know how much you should be serving your pet, here are five easy tips to keep their feedings in line with their goals.


  1. Use a measuring cup to dole out food portions.  If you know that your dog needs 2 cups of food per day, it is not good enough to eyeball what that is.
  2. Use a high-tech feeding device, like the one from  New technologies can be great and make our lives easier and more precise.  The SmartFeeder from Petnet, is a pretty cool device that, among other things, does the calculations for you and automatically dispenses the proper amount of food.  This feeder will be available in a few months and is worth considering.petnet smartfeeder
  3. Split meals into two feedings.  Like with humans, providing food throughout the day can help keep the dog’s blood sugar levels more consistent and reduce hunger.  Try serving one half of the target food in the morning and one half in the evening.
  4. Use treat bags to dole out treats.  Treats can be the bane of any dog’s diet.  So many pet owners hand these out from the jar without really noticing how many (or how many calories) we have added for the day.  Take out a plastic bag or other container and dole out the day’s treat rations first thing in the morning.  Or dole out the whole week’s rations into individual containers if you prefer.  In either case, for a given day, once that container is empty of treats, then you know that your dog has had enough.  Resist the temptation to reach back into the biscuit jar!
  5. Use smaller treats like the Cloudstar Tricky Trainers or Itty Bitty Buddy products which contain 3-4 calories each.  The fact is, dogs don’t do really discriminate between big treats or smaller treats.  They just love the fact that you are providing them with something tasty.  So use smaller treats and/or cut or break larger treats into halves or quarters.  This will allow you to reward your dog throughout the day without breaking their diet.

Do you have any additional tricks to share?

Don’t forget to join us next week for the FitDog Friday One Year Anniversary Celebration. We’re going to have a huge prize package, a FitDOG Quiz where you can win a $50 Amex gift card and lots of chances to win a SlimDoggy bandana (soon to be a collector’s item). Be sure and join us!

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FitDog Friday Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life.   Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!  


  1. When I started feeding raw food fifteen years ago, most brands came in chubs and I had to carefully measure the correct amounts. But most raw food now comes in amazingly easy to feed, pre-measured servings like cubes or patties. Treats are a lot more difficult to measure now- when training, if your bag runs out then you’ve got a dog that might not work for you. Jason and I just work hard to communicate on any possible needs for smaller meals due to low activity or extra treats.
    Bethany recently posted…Don’t Tell The Dogs, But Obedience Training Is Good ExerciseMy Profile

    • Treats is where it breaks down here too. Luckily, both our pups are in pretty good shape, so we have a benchmark. When Maggie got injured and couldn’t run, we forgot to adjust and she put on a few pounds pretty quick. Working that off now. Senior dogs are like senior people…metabolism is slooooow.
      mkob recently posted…Five Tips to Make Measuring your Dog’s Food Servings a HabitMy Profile

  2. Great tips. I do use a measuring scoop, feed twice a day, and prefer very small treats. Actually, veggies are a favorite treat here.
    Sue recently posted…You Calling My 104 Pound Labrador Retriever Fat? | FitDog FridayMy Profile

  3. We can’t imagine not measuring our food. How could you possibly know how much to feed if you don’t measure. Eating two meals is so important as well to help prevent bloat. Heck, even our cats get their food measured out twice a day. Bert is still chubby, but we have just accepted that since he has to eat special food and he steals food all the time. Happy fitdog Friday!
    emma recently posted…Easy DIY Tug A War Toy | GBGV | FitDog FridayMy Profile

  4. Great tips. When we ask clients how much food they are feeding they say a cottage food container or something like that full. They have no idea that they are really overfeeding. I like the bagged treat idea. I do grab from a big bowl and they get one each time come in from outside. Bad habit to get into.

  5. Great tips. We follow a lot of your tips. We measure food, feed two meals and use small treats.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Cold And WindyMy Profile

  6. We measure too. And on days we’re doing a lot of training (or going to agility class), we may skip that meal and feed same amount of kibble (or kibble and treats) during the training time. Otherwise little Rocco would be even fluffier in a hurry!
    Diane recently posted…Happy Take a Walk in the Park (with your dog) Day and Giveaway!My Profile

  7. Great tips of course Slim!
    I have to admit, after measuring their food for so long, I have started to eyeball it…. :/ I know I know..
    SO thanks for the eye opener! I will start measuring agaiN!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Party time on the Pet Parade!My Profile

  8. Great tips! Measuring is key, although its always tempting to add a ‘little more’…but avoid that it only leads to overweight dogs!

  9. OMD – I thought my big senior dogs were gaining weight. They look broader than usual. But I ran my hands down their sides and realized that they still have waist lines. They haven’t yet blown their winter coats is all. That worries me. Are they not shedding because something is wrong? Or is the weather going to stay cold into June? Neither of those is a good thing.

    As for treats, now that we have a puppy and are training him, the dogs get far fewer treats. I only treat as a reward, and I’ve torn the treats into teeny, tiny pieces.

    Still working on the exercise part …
    Flea recently posted…Puppy Training, Pt. 3My Profile

  10. Great tips! It’s amazing how many people don’t measure out their food properly. When I use to work at the vet so many people would say they gave a scoop or a few handfuls of food to their dog, so they had no idea how much food there dog was getting a day.
    Jen recently posted…Up Close And Personal, Big Dog StyleMy Profile

  11. As always a great post SlimDoggy! Loaded with important information!
    DogTread recently posted…5 A Week: Essential Exercises for Every DogMy Profile

  12. People also need to be aware that measuring saves money since so many are prone to overfeeding. Saving money means more toys, more play, more fun, more happy brain chemicals, more weight loss. A win-win all around.

  13. I bought a set of measuring cups just for the boys. I feed them twice a day and we have started using smaller treats!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Pet Parade Extraordinaire and Awards to ShareMy Profile

  14. Great information. I have never considered a Pet Feeder before. Certainly would have its advantages – thanks for sharing!
    Krista Wickes recently posted…5 A Week: Essential Exercises for Every DogMy Profile

  15. Dreaded portion control! It’s tough because we feed a combo of raw and grain-free kibble. We do use a measuring scoop for the kibble, but I eyeball the raw beef. If Rob does the feeding, he overfeeds… fills the bowl all the way to the top. Men.

    I try to buy “healthy” treats: dried lamb lung, for example. Then Grandma comes over with the Pupperoni!
    Kari recently posted…The Notorious B.U.G.My Profile

    • Keeping the family in line with the feeding routine can be a challenge for dogs – just like with humans. An occasional treat is okay, you just pay for it the next day with extra exercise.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy | Sepia SaturdayMy Profile

  16. I love all of these suggestions! 🙂 Exercise alone really isn’t enough to keep a pet at the right weight. Thanks for sharing all these tips!
    Nailah Bone recently posted…FitDog Friday – An Australian Shepherd Herding FerretsMy Profile

    • You’re welcome. I think herding ferrets is a good exercise, so you can maybe get an extra treat or two.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy | Sepia SaturdayMy Profile

  17. I admit I do eyeball Mr. N’s raw food. But he gets weighed weekly and we check his ribs every day in the course of petting and whatnot.
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…FitDog Friday #26 – Hiking at Maybury State ParkMy Profile

    • As long as your ‘eyeball’ amount stays the same and you keep checking, he should be good to go!
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy | Sepia SaturdayMy Profile

  18. These are great tips. We measure out the food, and feed twice a day. I think I’ll write a little bit about our system for FDF next week. We are a little less precise with treats, so I like your idea of using treat bags.
    Jan K recently posted…Newman’s Own Treat Review (& Giveaway)My Profile

    • Excellent idea – sharing ideas that work is always helpful.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy | Sepia SaturdayMy Profile

  19. On days like today when we have noseworks class, I bring half of Barley’s breakfast to class with us to use there. (I have to give her something in her bowl or she’s convinced that she didn’t get fed–even if she got the full serving, just in a different place–and runs back and forth to her bowl the rest of the day.) My really cheap plastic measuring cups are great because they have a line at the half-way mark, so I don’t have to do the complicated math when I’m dividing up her 3/4-cup serving or eyeball the halfway mark on my own!
    Beth recently posted…Black & White Sunday: Snow DayMy Profile

  20. I measure each serving our dogs get on a scale. I put all of their food in Rubbermade containers and each container is measured (even though I know their weight – I weigh to make sure my scale is correct). And then I weigh every serving so that I always know what our dogs are getting. It’s so easy to over feed.

    Now when they act like they’re starving, I laugh because I know based on serving amount, their bodies, and their activity level that they are just fine.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Allergies | Raw Dog Food Might Clear Up Skin AllergiesMy Profile

  21. These are the quite useful tips as before reading your article I was clueless about serving food to dog. I always give it more than the actual amount which made my dog lazy. Now I take my dog for a regular walk and play with him as much as possible.

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