How Much Should a Big Dog Eat a Day?

Updated: February 23, 2019 at 9:54 pm, Author: Alice

Feeding dogs is one of the most fun and rewarding activities for pet owners (and it’s possible even on a budget!). But it can also be a delicate matter. Some big dogs have boundless appetite. There is a tendency for them to eat much more than they should, and pet owners could be having so much fun seeing their dog enjoy food that it could lead to overeating.

Why is Overeating Dangerous for a Big Dog?

Big dog of a human size with a young woman besideBig dogs tend to be overactive most of the time, and they do burn through a lot of energy so it’s a given that they can eat much more than a human. However, there is a limit. Eating too much can pose serious health risks, and may even lead to death. Some of the health problems that could result from overeating include:

  • Musculoskeletal problems – this is when the dog becomes too heavy that his muscles and bone start to get stressed from carrying all the weight. It could lead to ligament ruptures and intervertebral disk diseases.
  • Congestive heart failure – like humans, dogs can get obese as well and with obesity comes cardiac-related problems.
  • Obesity and all of its complications – hypothyroidism, oral diseas, diabetes, cancer, athritis, and many of the usual suspects.
  • Skin disorders – overeating can trigger allergic reactions in some dogs.
  • Cushing’s disease – this is a serious affliction that comes from excessive production of the steroid hormone cortisol. One of the dangers of this disease is that it comes with a wide variety of symptoms that it can get easily misdiagnosed as something else.


With all of the above dangers of overeating, it is then obvious that you need to pace your dog and manage his feeding habits. But the big question is how much should a big dog eat per day?

Using Food Packaging as a Guide

The packaging for dog food and treats will have serving size suggestions, which should be a good starting point for knowing how much to feed your dog. But they should not be used as a sole metric, because the serving size suggestions are usually broad enough to accommodate all sizes, so they can either be too little or too much. For example, a bag of kibble may suggest 1/2 cups a day to dogs weighing 5 to 15 pounds. A 200% variation like that will be too broad to make accurate decisions.

Let us also not forget that you are feeding your dog other things. A braided bully stick, for instance, is meant for big dogs. Dogs love it and they can’t get enough, which could lead to overeating if you are not careful. The sticks are made from actual beef so they are real food and will be heavy on the stomach if not moderated.

Basing it On Your Dog’s Weight

The proper approach is to base it on your dog’s weight. There are dog food calculators online that will help you calculate the amount of food your dog should eat in a day. Many of these calculators will require you to set the dog’s age and their activity level, as these info will be relevant. With these information, you can get a good grasp of how much your big dog should eat based on the listed “calories per serving” on the dog food packages.

And if push comes to shove, you can always consult your vet. They will be qualified enough to know how much your specific dog should be fed in a single day, or can at least refer you to people who have such expertise.

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