When introducing your dog to raw food it is important to ensure that you are not feeding them too much or indeed too little. Of course, as with humans, if you feed them too much you will end up with an overweight dog and if you don’t give them enough you will end up with one that is underweight and could become malnourished. So how do you know how much raw food to feed your dog?
As with all mammals,dogs are all different and what is enough raw food for one could be too much for another. Your dog could be a great deal more active than another of the same breed and weight. Working and agility dogs will require more than those that are purely kept as pets and given an average length walk each day. Using a feeding guide (link) will give you a starting point as to the amount of raw food you should be feeding. You can then monitor their weight and appetite over the coming weeks and adjust the amount of food accordingly.
When feeding raw food to your dog, the general recommendation is that you feed 2-3% of their total body weight. This is not the amountyou should serve per meal but the total amount per day. If they only eat one meal then it will all be given at onetime. For those who eat two or more meals a day you would spread it out as required.
To calculate 2-3% of your dog’s body weight simply take their total weight (let’s say you have a 20kg dog as an example) and add a zero to this amount. 20kg becomes 200 then double or triple this to give you the amount in grams that you should feed. So a 20kg dog would require between 400 and 600 grams a day spread over the amount of meals that they eat. As there is quite a difference between 2 and 3% it is important that you keep an eye on their weight over the coming weeks to see if it goes up or down and adjust as necessary.
The obvious sign of a dog that is being fed too much isthat they are taking longer to eat their food and not finishing. This is not a hard and fast rule though as we all know that some dogs will just carry on eating even when they are no longer hungry. If they are consistently leaving a similar amount of food then you can just reduce the amount you give them by the amount that they leave.
Another noticeable sign is their physical appearance. A dog should have a visible waist line. You will be able to tell if they are putting on weight but if you are unsure you can use house scales, weigh yourself and then weigh yourself again holding the dog (as long as it’s not a 30kg+ dog). The difference between yours and the dog’s weight will give you their total weight. We recommend weighing after the first two weeks of introducing raw food.
You will soon know if your dog is eating too little. They will be looking for more all the time and will finish in no time at all. Again, with canines that are always hungry they will do this anyway but if they are begging and looking for food all the time then you know they aren’t getting enough. The tell tale sign of a dog that is not getting enough nutrition is their visible appearance. If they lose weight you soon notice it (unless they are very hairy). Their ribs will be clearly visible beneath the skin and their waist will be very thin when you look down from above. If you have a very hairy pet then you can feel their rib cage and their general overall bone structure. Using the scales to weigh them as detailed above will also give you a strong indication of any weight loss.
Once you have ascertained if they are getting too much or not enough food, you can increase or reduce the amount of you give them at each meal.
As puppies are developing and growing they need a greater percentage of food in relation to their weight than an adult dog. From the time that your puppy is weaned they will need to eat 10% of their total body weight. As they grow this can be reduced accordingly. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are guidelnes that you can follow but you are advised to keep an eye on their development to ensure they are getting the right amount.
|Age in weeks||Percentage of body weight to feed daily|
In addition to being fed a greater percentage of their body weight they will also need to be fed more frequently. Most puppies eat 3-4 meals per day in those early weeks and months. Once your puppy reaches 6 months you may reduce their meals to 2 a day but you still need to feed them a higher percentage of their weight until they have reached their adult size. As with adult dogs it is important to closely monitor this to ensure they don’t gain too much or under develop.
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