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dog food portions

You are sitting down, browsing the web on your computer.

You are mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when you inevitably see it. 

The post. 

It takes many forms – it can be a new dog owner wanting to learn how much to feed their new pup, or a person comparing how much they feed to others. Or even somebody looking for advice on how to get their overweight dog to lose the extra weight.

It catches your attention, you start reading and then, unavoidably, you see it. The unit of measurement everyone likes to share. The inexplicably universal one…

The cup. 

It takes many shapes but it’s always the same advice – “ you should be feeding x cups/day”.

People love sharing their feeding regimes. But how useful is the way this information is presented, really?

It is actually completely useless

In order for a cup to be an accurate unit of measurement for comparison, we would all need to, first, feed the same exact food in order to ensure the food is the same size with the same nutritional density.

Then we would need to use the exact same cup to measure. That way we can guarantee we have a cup of identical size and volume.

If we aren’t using the same exact food and the same exact measuring cup, comparing “cups” doesn’t work.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Cups

portion your dogs food with scooper and bowl

Cups are not an accurate unit of measurement for dog food.

Kibble formulas differ in nutritional density from one another, even from within the same brand, and their size varies as well.

Some kibble pieces are denser and smaller while others are lighter and larger.

The same argument applies to cups.

We have to realize, not all cups are made equal. Some are short, some are tall. Some are wide and some are not.

Even though they are all cups, they deceptively do not hold the same volume of food.

All of those variants contribute to a (often) vast difference between one person’s “cup of dog food” and the next.

So while a cup is something we all use to scoop up our kibble and it seems only natural to use it as a measurement, it provides us with very little relevant information. 

The Caloric Content of Dog Food Portions

What matters above all else, when it comes to feeding portions, is calories.

Knowing how many calories you feed a day is valuable information that gives everyone an easy and accurate representation of your dog’s actual daily serving. 

You could argue that some bags will say x kcal/cup.

But this is still not ideal as how many calories are in a cup will vary depending on what cup you actually use.

It most likely is not the same one they used when creating the bag information.

So, in the end, you can still end up under or overfeeding your dog by using the bag’s suggested serving sizes, which are often very inflated anyway.

Instead, you should look on the bag and locate where the calorie-to-weight conversion is on your dog’s food bag.

It most often says either x kcal/100g or x kcal/1kg

How To Properly Measure Dog Food Portions

scale to weigh raw dog food

Measure your dog’s food with a scale.

Sounds simple, right?

It is.

Using a scale means you are precisely measuring out each serving. That way, any inconsistencies and variations between feeding portions are removed.

You also have the most accurate information on exactly how much your dog is receiving as food every single day.

The danger of sticking to cups is that weight can creep up on your dog, and fast.

Once you start weighing food out, you will be able to calculate precisely how much calories your dog is consuming daily.

This enables you to easily and accurately adjust the portions if you notice your dog is losing or gaining weight, for example.

To put things in perspective, which would provide you with more information: “I feed my dog 1 cup/day” or “I feed my dog 460 kcal/day”?

Precise measurement will also allow you to provide your veterinarian with accurate information if need be.

That way, they can give you specific recommendations if your dog needs to have their daily servings adjusted.

This ensures proper weight loss that isn’t too slow or too fast or gradual weight gain, when needed. It also means it’s easier to calculate what the ideal serving would look like.

Final Thoughts

Switching how you measure out the daily food portion of your dog from cups to a scale has immense benefits without adding additional burdens to your day-to-day life.

Kitchen scales are inexpensive and compact enough to not take much space, and you just might have one already.

Furthermore, measuring the food out takes less than 10 seconds and is sometimes even quicker than trying to eyeball the quantity in the cup.

Last but definitely not least, that way there are no surprises when it comes to caloric intake, so you can prevent weight from creeping up on you and your dog, therefore preventing obesity.

Over 50% of dogs in the USA are overweight or obese and that lowers their lifespan substantially so preventing that should be a primary objective of any dog owner.

Tiny changes like this one often have an immense impact and are extremely easy to implement.

Do your dog a favor and switch to a scale.

Keeping our best friends fit and healthy is of utmost importance for ensuring as long of a life for them as possible.

Your dog will thank you.