How Much Canned Dog Food Equals Dry Food?

Dry dog food is produced by dehydrating meat at high temperatures, which causes the meat to shrink, so 5 cans of wet food equal one bag of dry food or kibble.

Kibble will expand once it reaches the stomach and comes into contact with liquids. This means that one cup of kibble can be enough for one day, whereas a dog eating canned food may require 2-3 cans per day.

How much canned food should a dog eat daily?

Portion size is dependant primarily on the dog’s weight, but also their age, health status and how much daily activity they get.

A puppy under the age of 4 or 5 months should be eating 3 or 4 meals per day. Small breeds should be given approximately one-quarter of a can of wet food at each mealtime. Larger breeds may need a slightly larger portion.

Once a puppy reaches 6 months, portion sizes should be slowly increased until they reach 9 months and the mealtimes should be gradually reduced from 4 to 3.

Many owners choose to move their dog onto 2 meals per day once they reach 1 year old, but larger breeds digest food quicker and generally function better with 3 meals.

By one year, small breed dogs should be eating one-half to three-quarters of a can of wet food at mealtimes. Large breeds between one and two, depending on their weight.

It is also important to note that ill-health and pregnancy will alter feeding schedules and portion sizes.

How many cups of food should my dog eat?

If you are feeding dry kibble, you will be measuring your dog’s meals in cups.

Puppies should not be fed more than half a cup per meal, even for large breeds. Weight gain during puppyhood can put a strain on the joints and cause long-term physical deformities and digestive disorders.

At 6 months, half to three-quarters of a cup per day is generally enough for small and toy breeds. Medium and large breed puppies may require up to one cup per day.

Between 6 and 9 months your puppy will experience a growth spurt and will require increased nutrition. Small and toy breeds may increase their portion sizes by one-quarter of a cup, while larger breeds may need an additional half cup.

By one-year-old, most dogs will now be set onto their adult feeding schedule. Small and toy breeds should not typically require more than one cup per meal. Large breed dogs may require 2 or 3, depending on their weight and overall health.

If you are unsure of your dog’s ideal feeding schedule or portion size, it is best to seek veterinary advice or speak with a canine nutritionist.

Should I feed my dog canned dog food?

The problem with canned foods is the expensive packaging and the fact that you’re buying a certain amount of water in the cans. There’s a lot of water, in fact. One reliable reference gives canned foods as 28 percent dry matter, as against dry foods (the kibble type of biscuits) at 91 percent dry matter.

Some dog foods have a higher level of water than others. Still, you must understand that you are buying a fair degree of water which means that you are not getting the best value for money, especially if you have a big dog. A dog that has smaller food requirements doesn’t build-up to the higher intake and the expense.

We’ve also noticed that low incomes don’t necessarily mean little dogs. It quite often happens the other way around and feeding a big dog on canned food at $1.5 for a 15oz can or $2 for a 24oz one can become a problem. The two advantages of canned food are that it’s palatable and it’s easy.

To maintain a large dog satisfactorily on canned food and enable it to grow satisfactorily in its growth period would be quite expensive.

Canned foods are high in protein, but this in fact can tend to be wasteful. Dogs only require a certain amount of protein and convert the rest to carbohydrates which can be fed to them in the cheaper form at any rate. So with canned foods, you’re paying for a higher level of protein that may not be necessary.

Should I feed my dog wet food or dry food?

Dry dog food is the most nutritionally balanced and economical form of feeding. The ingredients are carefully chosen to ensure all the required nutrients are provided. Its one drawback is palatability or lack of it.

Some dog owners say their dogs will not eat it. This is due to the cooking process, which draws out a lot of the natural flavor. It is possible to add a small amount of gravy to dry dog food or to soak it in warm water for 5 minutes to soften the biscuits and enhance the flavor.

The storage of the dry food (meaning any of the kibble-type biscuit foods) is easy. It can be bought in 10-pound bags and easily kept in clean firmly lidded plastic garbage bins. It takes up no refrigerator space and it does not smell. There are no cans to be rid of or to open. Dry food has a long shelf life and can be stored safely for months after opening.

At $1 a day, the cost of feeding the dog for a week works out at $7. There is still nothing wrong with throwing in the baked dinner leftovers (veggies, gravy, meat scraps, or the tail of a lamb chop) to add to the diet.

In growing dogs, food requirements are higher per pound of bodyweight because food must be provided for growth and maintenance. (By maintenance we mean exercise and warmth). So that 1600 calories, $1 worth of dry food, will also be needed to feed a growing dog weighing 25 pounds.

A dog that is spending a lot of time running around with kids, would have a higher food requirement than a dog that simply lies around the backyard. You would have to increase the total dietary intake by 25 percent.

Owners should keep tabs on the growing dog’s weight.

They should see that the dog grows nicely and is not overfat, remembering that once a dog is fully grown its calorie requirements per pound of bodyweight drop, as they are not needing food for growth but only for maintenance, and in certain cases for exercise.

Once a dog is fully grown and has achieved a nice shape (meaning that it still has a waist) you should weigh that dog.

This is best achieved by first weighing yourself and then scooping up the dog and weighing the pair of you. The difference is the weight of the dog. Repeat this as a weekly exercise, and if the weight goes up it means you are feeding the dog too much.

This simple exercise saves money and alleviates a weight problem that so many people wrongly attribute to dogs being neutered.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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