Both experienced and new dog owners will often face the same question – how often should I feed my dog? Ensuring a healthy diet with balanced nutrition for your dog isn’t difficult if you know how often your dog should eat, and what it should be eating. Once you nail this aspect of owning a dog, keeping it as a healthy member of your family becomes easy and they’ll be able to live a long life as your companion.
While there isn’t a perfect rule for how often, dogs should eat, generally, starting with two meals a day is a good idea. You need to keep in mind that, when it comes to dogs, how much you feed it is just as important as how often you feed it. That is, appropriately portion the meals so that you do not end up overfeeding or underfeeding your dog every day. Getting the right portion sizes for your dog’s particular breed and size is the tricky bit. Therefore, you need to do your homework before settling on a meal plan for your pet dog, otherwise, it might end up getting over or underfed.
If you’re worried about the meals, you can always get help online and understand how much your dog should eat, and how often. However, your source of truth should always be your dog’s veterinarian.
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What Factors Go Into How Often a Dog Should Eat?
Experienced veterinarians will recommend two hearty meals a day for your dog. However, if your dog has a medical condition or is a breed known for specialized feeding requirements, you’ll have to pay closer attention to meal frequency and quantity. Therefore, the best thing to do here is to talk to your veterinarian and plan your dog’s nutritional and dietary needs, along with meal timings.
The biggest factor that plays into how often your dog eats – is the breed. Larger breeds will require more meals per day as they burn through calories much faster than medium or smaller dogs. In addition to the breed, age is another factor – an older dog will have a vastly different diet than a younger pup.
How Often Should You Feed Your Puppy?
If you have access to a dog meal service in your area, you don’t have to worry about the feeding habits and requirements of your dog. Instead, the service will handle everything for you and deliver portioned meals throughout the life of the dog. Although their services are expensive, they are well worth the investment and help ensure you can satisfy your puppy’s dietary needs.
Puppies grow rapidly and so require more food, more often, than an adult dog. Moreover, to build a strong foundation for future growth, the puppy will require the right amount of nutrition to nurture bone and organ development.
The bones of a puppy are particularly important – as, without the right amount of calcium, they will develop numerous diseases. These include:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Early-onset of arthritis
Feeding Your Puppy during the Early Stages of Its Life
The best approach to feeding puppies is in small frequent doses. During the first few months of its life, the puppy will require small amounts of food throughout the day. This is because as the pup transitions from its mother’s milk to solid food, it will take a while for it to adjust. After about 4 months, you can bring down the number of times you feed the dog down to twice a day.
With frequent feedings in small portions, the puppy can digest its food properly and keep energy levels constant throughout the day. However, be sure to keep a close eye on the portions and control the diet properly – if your puppy overeats, it will quickly become overweight and grow into an overweight dog. Overweight dogs suffer from a plethora of health problems. Therefore, to avoid ending up with an overweight dog, control the meals of your puppy properly.
As a rough guideline, you can follow these meal plans for your dog breed:
- Toy-breed Puppies: 4 to 6 meals per day are recommended during the first three months.
- Medium-breed Puppies: 3 meals per day will satisfy these medium-breed dogs.
- Large-breed Puppies: These puppies require 3 to 4 meals per day.
Controlling the Meals of Your Older Puppies
The goal with frequent portioned meals is to help the dog keep energy levels constant throughout the day. Therefore, breed plays an important factor here due to the differences in metabolism between breeds. Moreover, during the first year of growth, calorie intake and food ingestion should be consistent between the ages of 4 months and 12 months. It’s best to consult your veterinarian often or consult a puppy feeding guideline through the early stages of its life.
How Often Should You Feed Your Adult Dog?
Adult dogs generally require no more than 2 meals a day across most breeds. They might ask for treats throughout the day, but you should pay close attention to the type of treats you give your dogs and avoid giving treats too often. Don’t fall victim to their playful demeanor and cute eyes – overfeeding your dog can have drastic effects on its health.
Consult your veterinarian about the type of foods you should be giving your dog, along with how often you should be feeding it. Moreover, ask your vet about the type of treats you should be giving your dog between meals.
Your dog’s weight is a big determinant in how often you should feed it, and how much each portion should be. Dogs vary a lot in adult weight; smaller breeds can weigh as little as 20 pounds while larger breeds weigh anywhere between 50 and 150 pounds.
Veterinarians – this leads to overeating, discourages leaving food lying around for your dog and you lose complete control over your dog’s diet. This will lead to unhealthy nutrition and in most cases obesity for the dog.
Therefore, veterinarians recommend keeping your dog from eating scraps lying around or eating random stuff from the kitchen – that is, you should deliberately control your dog’s diet or it may fall sick. And so, before settling on the perfect diet and feeding schedule for your dog, consult your veterinarian.