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Probably the MOST asked question about raw feeding
A common enough question to be sure! Probably the one MOST asked question when people are first starting out in fact. Generally speaking, raw fed dogs should be fed approximately 2-3% of their optimal body weight per day of raw food. Puppies get 2-3% of their estimated adult weight.
Unfortunately, this is not an absolute! Different factors must be taken into consideration and always remember, one size does not fit all. First and foremost your dog is an individual so let’s look at him/her in that way. How old is your dog? What is your dog’s optimal weight? What is your dog’s activity level like? Is your dog involved in performance sports? How much exercise does he/she get? Does your dog gain weight easily or barely keep it on? These questions and many more must be taken into account when deciding what amount is right for your individual dog.
If your dog currently weighs 60 pounds but should be 50 pounds you will feed according to that optimal weight – start with 2% which would be 1 pound per day. Watch your dog. Is he maintaining his current weight? Has he started to lose but too quickly? Is he acting like he is absolutely starving (be careful on this one, some dogs are just convinced they are starving no matter what)? Adjust accordingly. Add more if the weight loss is too sudden, cut back further if there is no weight loss at all.
Keep in mind too that problems such as hypothyroidism can cause a dog to retain weight no matter how strict of a diet he/she is on. If the weight just isn’t coming off it might be time for a thyroid panel.
Remember that it takes a lot less fresh raw food to maintain a dog than it does kibble. It is quite simply more usable to the dog without any fillers. In order to give a dog what they need on kibble you have to feed a much larger amount than if you are feeding raw. If the portions don’t seem right to you after feeding kibble for years, this may be why. Many people continue to feed one meal of kibble for every raw meal that they feed – hey, 1/2 raw is better than no raw! Amounts to feed then become somewhat skewed.
My suggestion would be to cut the amount of kibbble normally fed in half and do the same with the raw. Figure out how much raw you would feed for a day and split it down the middle. It is even more important in this case to watch your dog for signs of weight gain or loss and adjust accordingly. No exact science here – just trial and error to find out what is normal for your unique individual.
Age slows down metabolism so don’t be surprised that as your dog gets older, his need for food decreases somewhat. You may find as your dog enters his senior years that you don’t have to feed nearly as much to maintain healthy weight.
Puppies are the same. A large breed puppy under a year old is growing growing growing. Generally this means that they need plenty of food to keep their weight optimal. Be careful though – puppies are never exactly alike and keeping a puppy lean is incredibly important. Fat puppies make for fat adults and its always easier to get weight on than to take weight off. Roly poly may seem cute but as your puppy grows up it becomes a health hazard and a much harder job to accomplish.