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Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ

WebMD veterinary experts answer commonly asked questions about creating a food and nutrition plan for your adult dog.
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What are some guidelines for checking whether my dog is too lean, just right, or overweight?

Body condition ranges from emaciated to obese.

An adult dog is emaciated if its ribs, vertebrae, and pelvic bones are easily visible from a distance. Chronically underfed dogs or dogs fed unbalanced diets may develop osteoporosis and are more susceptible to parasites and bacterial infections. They also may lack the energy for working or for nursing puppies.

An adult dog is considered in moderate condition if you can feel its ribs easily and see its waist when looking down at its back. You should also be able to see an abdominal tuck when looking from the side.

A dog is overweight if it’s difficult to feel its ribs or see its waist or abdominal tuck. It will have visible fat deposits on its back and the base of its tail. Fat dogs are more likely to develop diabetes and osteoarthritis.

What should I do if my dog is overweight?

Give less food or switch to a low-calorie dog food. Cut out any table scraps and high-calorie treats, such as dog biscuits. Look for high-fiber, low-calorie treats instead. Make sure your dog isn’t eating food intended for other pets in the house. Your veterinarian can help you calculate the exact amount of food to give your dog when starting a weight loss plan. It’s important to not give too much food or your dog won’t lose weight. But it is equally important to give enough, or your dog can lose weight too quickly and become sick.  

How often should my adult dog eat?

Most pet owners prefer feeding an adult dog twice a day, although a dog can eat just once daily. Giving two meals a day may make it easier for the dog to digest the food and helps control hunger.

How much protein and fat does my dog need?

An adult dog needs at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and a minimum of 5.5% from fats. An adult dog’s diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, including 2.5% to 4.5% percent fiber.

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