Christmas is coming and the festive season is all about over-indulging. And whilst we all are enjoying treating our loved ones and pets, it is really important that we do not go overboard on the treats that we feed our dogs.
How much you should feed your Cavapoo depends on their own unique needs. Whilst dog food labels suggest feeding portions by weight, working out the calorie content is actually more accurate and is essential for preventing obesity.
We all know that smaller dogs need less food than larger ones, but what exactly is the perfect number? Feeding recommendations on dog food packaging is a legal requirement, but are often vague and leave owners like me, having to do a lot of guesswork.
Below we look at the best way to work out just how much you should be feeding your Cavapoo.
How often should I feed my Cavapoo?
As humans, we eat when we are hungry, but dogs do not have the luxury of helping themselves to the larder as and when they fancy a bite to eat. Therefore it is up to us to ensure that we provide our Cavapoos with enough nutritious food to keep their tummies full.
On average, a puppy (up to the age of four months old) will need to eat little and often – normally up to 4 times a day. These should be given at strict intervals as this will help with the toilet training process. A good breeder should debrief all new owners on their current feeding schedule which can then be slowly adapted to suit everyone’s needs.
As your Cavapoo continues to grow and mature, you can start feeding them larger quantities but reduce the number of times to just twice a day.
Working out how much to feed your dog
The wording to explain the daily feeding requirements on the back of an average dog food bag is often ambiguous, to say the least. Banding around phrases like ‘the average dog’ and ‘fill a mug full of kibble’ is often unhelpful, as we all know, no two dogs are ever the same (and neither are two mugs!).
Therefore vets often recommend that you start with the number of calories your dog needs per day to work out how much feed they require. Most vets will happily provide you with the correct number for your Cavapoo, or alternatively, you can use an online calculator – providing you know your dog’s Body Conditioning Score (BCS) as detailed below.
You will need to know your dog’s BCS so that that calculator can reduce your dog’s calories if they are deemed by a professional to be overweight.
Taking your Cavapoos dog food you will need to look at the calorie content, which should be printed on the back of the bag. You can then, either do the small calculation yourself or type the figures in to the online calculator. Press enter and VOILA, you will be told exactly how many grams of food your dog should have each day.
Depending on the number of meals your dog gets throughout the day, will determine how this final figure is split.
As a working example, our Cavapoo Rosie is 6.3Kg. She has been spayed and scores a perfect 5 on the BCS chart.
Therefore she can have a total of 390 calories a day which is recommended to be 350 calories of food (split between two meals) with the remaining 40 calories made up in treats (see below for more explanation)!
How to work out your dog’s Body Condition Score
Just like people, dogs can vary in size and shape and this has a massive impact on their weight and body fat.
Therefore in order to fully understand how healthy your dog is, nutritionists developed a sliding scale called the Body Condition Score. A body condition score (BCS) is a number assigned to your pet based on an evaluation of fat at key locations on their body.
Most charts will look at your Cavapoo and rate it between 1-9, with numbers 4-5 indicating an ideal weight for your dog. Any dogs rated 6+ are considered over the ideal weight for their size and for every number above 5, your pet is an extra 10 per cent overweight. Those who are given a number below 3, are classed as under ideal and considered to be underweight.
Most vets will carry out this examination for you (often for free) although you can have a go yourself. To determine your dog’s BCS you will need to evaluate the following:
- Ribs. Ideally, your dog should have a lovely smooth rib cage that you can feel using flat fingers. If you have to push through layers of fat to get to them, then it is likely that your dog is carrying some excess weight.
- Waist. There should be a visible waistline behind the rib cage which you can feel or see when wet. Starting where the chest ends and heading up towards the hips, it should tuck up underneath the abdomen.
- Hips. Whether you class it as a spare tyre or love handles, your dog should not have any large squishy bulges either side of their hips. Likewise, you should not be able to see their hip bones, as this is an indicator that your pet is too thin.
Getting “hands-on” with your dog provides you with a good idea of how healthy they are and whether they are getting the correct amount of nutritious food daily.
What should I feed my Cavapoo?
I have already done a post on what is the best dog food for a Cavapoo, which discusses the benefits of wet versus dry food. That said, a dog will change their eating habits over time depending on factors such as maturing tastes, age and even behavior.
When considering what to feed your dog, you should pay close attention to the list of ingredients on each pack, and where possible avoid food that contains any additives, colors, flavoring and preservatives. Extensive research in human nutrition has shown strong links with particular e numbers causing hyperactivity in children, so we should be cautious of serving our Cavapoos similar foods.
The quality of the contents is the most important factor when choosing a suitable dog food because the use of human-grade ingredients means little or no artificial colors and flavorings. You may find that your Cavapoo is deficient in certain things, so supplements can be added to a dogs diet where necessary.
How many treats should I give me Cavapoo?
Life would be very dull without a treat or two to look forward too! Plus they make great training rewards when teaching our dogs new tricks.
It is fine to give our Cavapoos treats and chews as long as we are not giving them too many. Treats should be just that – an occasional indulgence for your furry friend to enjoy and should not make up more than 10% of their daily calorie allowance.
In order to ensure that your dog is not eating vast amounts of snacks, we should pay close attention to the calorie intake of each treat.
For example, a medium-sized Dentastix (see on Amazon) is worth 82 calories whereas a piece of cheddar cheese (around 2.5cms cubed) is a staggering 70 calories. Carrots on the other hand remain a healthy snack at a mere 10 calories for half a stick.
How to make sure your Cavapoo gets the right amount of food
Some dry dog foods come with a measuring scoop or cup, but this is often an unreliable method of giving your dog the correct food.
In fact, this study showed that an overestimation of 80% was possible when using a measuring cup!
A more precise way of ensuring that your dog gets the correct amount of food is to weigh it. This may sound like a bit of a palaver, but you’ll be amazed at how much less food waste there is.
Whatever you decide to feed your dog and however much you decide is the correct amount, it is important to adapt to your Cavapoo and their changing needs.
Growing, active dogs will burn more energy so require more calories than that of an older, lazier dog and this will of course change over time. Using the BCS method you can follow your dog’s journey and ensure that your Cavapoo stays, happy and healthy every step of the way.
If you are interested to know more about how to make your dog’s dinner and dog feeding preferences, then read our blog on how to feed your Cavapoo.