How Much Food

The amount of food your dog needs will vary according to its age, breed and level of activity

Like children, puppies need a lot of calories to fuel their fast growth. But your tiny 2.5kg Chihuahua will need far less food than your neighbour's 80kg Mastiff or constantly active Border Collie. Help is often at hand on food product labels, while some premium brands even make special formulations according to breed, age and activity level.

Veterinary clinic staff are invaluable when it comes to nutrition, and they use a body conditioning score to evaluate your dog's weight. It ranges from 1 for emaciated, to 5 for obese. 

It's normal for very young dogs to have a bit of puppy fat, but after the first 8 to 10 weeks, most should have a score of around 2.

If your dog is close to their ideal weight, you should see a waist when you look down from above, and an abdominal tuck when you look from the side. Depending on the breed, you may be able to see their ribs, but you shouldn’t be able to feel any fat on them.

If your dog is pregnant, the amount of food you give her shouldn’t change. But it’s more important than ever to ensure she has a balanced diet with all the essential elements for good health. Overfeeding or underfeeding can be detrimental to her health and the health of the developing puppies. Learn more about pregnancy in dogs.

Loss of appetite is one of the most common signs of illness in dogs. Some puppies will refuse to eat even if they are slightly uncomfortable from an injury, upset stomach or illness. Others will only stop eating when they’re seriously ill. See your vet if, over a few days, your dog is eating less than usual.

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