Feeding Guidelines for Adult Dogs - What, When and How Much to Feed

by Sreeraj Krishnan

Are you confused about the good feeding schedule for your dogs? 

Well, feeding your dogs does not have to be so perplexing. All that you need to know are the basic attributes of your dog to create a perfect feeding plan for them.

Food is one of the most important elements of your dog’s life. It is through good food that your dog gets the energy to hop and play and also proper nutrients for a healthy and fit body. So, make no mistake in feeding them the right food, the right way. 

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Dog?

Feeding Guidelines for Adult Dogs - What, When and How Much to Feed

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash 

The number of times you can feed your dog completely depends on your family schedule. But considering a healthy diet plan, you should feed your dog twice a day with a gap of about 12 hours between both the meals. Increasing the gap between meals to more than 12 hours can cause nausea. So, do not forget to feed your dog on time.

You can create a regular feeding schedule for your dog - once in the morning and once in the evening – and prefer the same time every day.

Things to Know While Feeding an Adult Dog.

Providing your dog with a complete and balanced diet is the key in keeping them healthy. Always check that the labels on food packages meet nutrient profiles established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).

Check if the food is appropriate for adult dogs or in other cases, food that is appropriate for all dogs would also work.

If your dog is inactive and overweight, better stick with food labeled for adult health maintenance.

Why Feed Your Dogs on a Proper Schedule?

Systematically feeding your dogs is necessary to keep them healthy and fit. You may have heard different bits of advice regarding feeding but two meals a day is the best choice. 

Feeding your dogs on a schedule will create an efficient habit for them as well. Serving the meals to an adult dog at regular intervals every day can help you predict their routine. 

Meals are the basic keystone around which other activities and antics of your dogs are added. If you are trying to house train your pet dog, following a proper feeding schedule will make the work easier.

A good feeding schedule ensures a good poop schedule too!

What to Feed Your Dog?

Feeding Guidelines for Adult Dogs - What, When and How Much to Feed

Photo by Goochie Poochie Grooming from Pexels

Who refuses a fresh meal? 

Just like you, your dog would love to eat fresh food too. Fresh dog food is more digestible and healthier than canned or kibble food. Feed your dogs with food that is fresh and perfectly balanced. This way they get to have a meal that is healthy and tasty as well. 

You can even opt for dry, wet and canned food available for your adult dogs. But always see if the food meets nutrient requirements for adult dogs or not. Once you choose adult dog food, do check if the package meets for AFFCO requirements for dog food.

Homemade fresh food can also be very nutritious if they have the right mix of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is better to consult a nutritionist to prepare a right and healthy meal for your dogs.

If you get the amounts right, you can mix different food items to increase the variety. Making smooth changes will prevent causing digestion problems to your dog’s health. 

It is always better to consult your vet to get the best nutritional guidance for your dogs. 


  • Neutered Dogs/Spayed Dogs- Neutering/spaying alters the dog’s hormonal balance which then affects their metabolic rate. Such dogs need fewer calories in their diet. Also, if you feed them the same amount of food, as they’ve been served always, they will start gaining weight after some time. You should immediately consult your vet if your dog starts gaining too much weight.
  • Active and Working Dogs- Active dogs who exercise regularly burn a huge amount of calories. They need protein to build and maintain muscle health. Active/working dogs need food that provides their body with sustainable energy. So, look for food that contains complex carbohydrates like whole fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed grains.
  • Small Breeds- Small breed dogs tend to have higher metabolic rates. Feeding them with higher energy foods is important. Many dog food manufacturers produce small breed diets but these may not be available at all places. The small breeds and toy breeds require more calories than larger dogs. You need to feed them with a calorie-dense, small breed food. 
  • Large Breeds- The large or giant dog breeds mature later, often not reaching their full size. They reach old age quicker and have a lifespan of only 6-7 years. Due to their rapid aging process and also because of the weight they carry, it is essential to feed them with meals that have supplements to support their joints.

As adult dogs get older, their metabolism also slows down. They then require fewer calories from their diet. For senior dogs, you can serve them a smaller amount of adult dog food despite choosing some specific diets. 

How Much to Feed an Adult Dog Based on Activity Levels.

Serving adult dogs with the right meal is necessary for a good furry coat and a healthy body. The table below specifies the guidelines to calculate caloric requirements for adult dogs that most nutritionists use. It is based upon your dog’s Resting Energy Requirements (RER), that is, the energy your dog uses in a day while being entirely at rest.

You can calculate RER by using the formula –

RER in Calories/day = 70*(body weight in kilograms)^¾

Table - Activity Levels and Daily Energy Requirements



Weight Loss

1.0 * RER (for ideal weight)

Weight Gain

1.2-1.8 * RER (for ideal weight)

Neutered Adult

1.6 * RER

Intact Adult

1.8 * RER

Inactive/Obese Prone

1.2-1.4 * RER

Active/Working Dogs

2.0-5.0 * RER


The mentioned calculations can only give the raw values, “zip-code” level estimates of your pet’s required Calorie needs and how much you should feed them. The values can change with time and circumstances.

If dogs are fed too much they do not gain too much weight but rather suffer from digestive problems or other health problems. It thus becomes necessary to feed your dog with the right amount of food. Referring to the given table below, you can find the daily requirements for moderately active neutered/spayed dogs with given weights.

Table 2 - Weights and Daily Energy Requirements





5 Kgs


10 Kgs


15 Kgs


20 Kgs


25 Kgs


30 Kgs


35 Kgs


40 Kgs


45 Kgs



Individual pet needs can always vary by at least 50% of the above-calculated values. However, these are the starting points for estimating the food that you should provide daily to your dogs. The amount can be further adjusted as required, to maintain the healthy body condition of your dogs.


Not all dogs are the same and the feeding plan for every dog also differs based on their activity. It is necessary to serve them with the right meal that has fresh and required ingredients. You should also remember to feed your dogs on time because the more disciplined their schedule, the healthier they remain.

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