There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of dog feeding frequency. The volume of food and frequency of the feeding depends on 3 essential aspects:
- Dog breed & habits
- Health condition
Needless to say, in order to answer the how, we need to look at the whats. In this article, we will discuss all 3 aspects and how they influence the decision on how often to feed your furry buddy. At the end of this piece, you should be able to figure out what feeding arrangement works best for your pet.
What’s your dog’s breed and current habits?
- Is your dog a mixed breed or a purebred? Although mixed breed and purebred dogs can eat the same food, some of them are prone to certain digestive issues. You need to know the gastrointestinal sensitivities of your dog’s breed to avoid canine health problems.For example: Is your dog amongst the breeds likely to develop dog bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus or GDV)? You should feed him more than once a day. This is so that he will avoid having to eat a larger portion of food, which increases the risk of bloat.
- Is he a toy dog or one from the larger breed types?Your dog’s size plays a role in deciding how often to feed him. Typically, small breeds need to feed on small meals frequently throughout the day to avoid hypoglycaemia. That’s because such canines can only take in little food at a time. So, if you have a small furry companion, feed him at least 2–4 times a day.
- What is his activity level?Do you have an energetic dog that spends much time outdoors and engages in various physical activities? Then he should be fed twice or thrice a day. If your dog is not as active and leads a laid-back lifestyle indoors, a once-a-day feeding is sufficient.
What is your dog’s health status?
Does your pet have special needs due to illness or a health condition? The specifics of his feeding will revolve around those conditions. In cases with dogs having cancer, for example, they should be fed according to their appetite. They tend to be pickier with food and can only take in a small portion at a time. As such, they may need to be fed more frequently.
Another case in point is the weight of your dog. Is he currently over the average weight for a dog of his age and breed? You may need to feed him once a day to help him lose the extra pounds. If he is underweight, you should feed him about 2–3 times a day. Be careful to monitor his weight gain so it does not go overboard.
Puppies tend to be active and are still growing. As such, they need to be fed small portions of food frequently, about 4–5 times a day. When they reach 5–6 months, they can be fed 2–3 times a day.
Adult dogs, on average, can be fed twice a day, depending on the factors mentioned above. With senior canines, they can get by with once-a-day feedings. This is because they are no longer as active as before and thus do not expend as much energy.
Should you free-feed your dog?
Some pet owners always have food available on their dog’s dishes the whole day to allow their pets to nibble. Whilst this may be feasible for nursing dogs, this strategy may trigger certain canine health and behavioural issues.
- Dogs are at risk of becoming overweight.
- The pet owner will not be able to determine exactly how much the pet eats. This leads to the inability to observe changes in appetite levels, which may be a symptom of an illness or other health problems.
- Pets with diabetes will not benefit from such a feeding arrangement.
- Rodents and insects may be attracted to the constant and easy availability of food. This is especially if the dog is usually fed outdoors.
- Other pets in the house, especially felines, may fight over the food. Cats may also learn to eat food that does not suit their nutritional needs.
To set regular feeding times, leave out the food at a specific time and take it away after 20–30 minutes. Your dog will learn that he needs to eat when the food is out and not whenever he wants to.
Other tips you need to know
A good rule of thumb in feeding dogs twice daily is to serve two-thirds of the day’s allocation in the morning. The other one-third will then be given in the evening. You can feed between 8 to 12-hour intervals with a twice-a-day feeding frequency.
Further, you should not feed your dog an hour before or after physical exercise or a walk. This is to prevent bloat and other stomach issues.
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