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How Much Should I Feed My Dog or Cat, Puppy or Kitten?

Posted by Jessica McCarthy on

The most common question we get asked is how much to feed your furchildren when you switch them to a raw diet.  We will give you the tried-and-tested numbers, but the most important thing we can teach you is how to read and trust your pets’ bodies – they are Natural Born after all, and their bodies know what they need!

Healthy Body Shape For A Dog or Cat

So the first thing is to look at your dog or cat’s body and determine whether they are at a good weight to start with.  You should be able to easily feel their ribs under their skin, and they should have a clear waistline.  If you can actually see their ribs, they are too skinny.  If they are roly-poly round without a waist, they need to lose a little or their joints will take strain.  This is especially true for puppies and kittens!  However cute a barrel may look, you don’t want to stress their little skeletons as they are developing.

chart showing healthy body shapes for dogs and cats

Portion sizes for your pet

portion sizes for dog, cat, puppy

The percentages and amounts we’ve given are based on maintaining your pet’s current weight.  That means you want to calculate the percentages or meal size based on their ideal weight, rather than their actual weight, if they are a little over or under at the moment.  If they’re underweight, feed them a little extra.  If they’re overweight, go with a bit less.  Feel free to reach out to us if you aren’t sure and we can help you!

You’ll notice we’ve given you a range of meal sizes – that’s because every dog’s and cat’s body has a different metabolism, and their level of activity can affect how quickly they burn through their food.  If you’re happy with your pet’s body shape and want to maintain it as is, we suggest you start in the middle of the range and observe your pets for a week or two.  If they put on weight, adjust the numbers down a little, and if they start looking skinny, increase a little.  The most important thing is DON’T PANIC!  One of the great things about raw feeding is how easily your pet’s body will adjust if needed.  An increase or decrease in meal size will make noticeable changes within a week or two.

How many Treats can I feed my dog or cat?

Everyone deserves a little treat from time to time, and this shouldn’t make a huge difference, but if there is reason for your pet to have gotten a lot of treats on a particular day (maybe a puppy school day, or a day when you left them home alone with a loaded puzzle toy to keep them entertained) then factor that in and adjust meals down a little on that day.  Our dog Mochi knows that Saturday is a training day, which means she gets a very small breakfast before heading off to school to earn a whole bag full of treats!

Self-Regulating: How do I know if my dog or cat is full?

Cats are great self-regulators and will usually stop eating when they are full.  If you put out a bowl of food in the morning and leave it out for 20-30min, your cat will decide how much they want to eat in that time.  Repeat this in the evening, and don’t feel stressed if they don’t finish – they’ll let you know how much is enough. 

Dogs, on the other hand, will usually wolf down anything you put in front of them!  We often have to gently remind our customers that cute puppy-dog eyes begging at the table does not mean your dog is underfed – the way to tell if they are really hungry is to keep an eye on their body shape, as per the guidelines in the Body Shapes paragraph.

It’s important to note that both dogs and cats will often eat a bit less in summer.  You might notice that that’s true for you too!  This is nothing to worry about.  Cats are also nocturnal hunters in the wild and will often eat a bigger meal at night.

If your dog or cat completely refuses food, or is eating much less for more than a day or two, it’s time to check in with your vet and make sure nothing is wrong.

Hopefully we’ve answered most of your questions about how much to feed your pets on a raw diet.  If you still have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out and let us give you some personalised advice 😄

Jessica McCarthy

Jess is a founding member of Natural Born Pets, and has been a writer and an animal lover all her life. A Cape Town gal and a lover of nature, the mission to bring proudly local and naturally healthy living to your pets is very dear to Jess's heart. Whether she's researching and writing non-fiction articles and social posts, devising full-length plays or short stories, or writing one of her infamously long and colourful emails to friends, Jess is happiest with a pen in her hand and a pet on her lap.