When dealing with a dog or a new puppy, it can be difficult to determine when is the best time of day to feed your dog. Should you feed your dog once or twice a day? Should you always keep food in their bowl and allow your dog to graze? While there are no hard and fast rules, learn more about what’s generally recommended by veterinarians as to what time of day is best to feed your dog.
When is the best time to feed a dog?
There are many different notions of when is the best time of day to feed your dog. The most common feeding frequency is feeding your dog twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Dogs have a stomach structure that means they’ll get hungry between 8-10 hours after their last meal, so a breakfast/dinner schedule is better than breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner or feeding them once a day.
This breakfast/dinner schedule typically works for most owners as they can feed their dogs in the morning when they have breakfast before they leave for work as well as when they come home to make dinner.
However, each dog is different and it can be difficult to establish routine eating behaviors and habits if your dog is picky. It is important to establish a feeding routine for your dog to provide them the security and predictability of their mealtimes. Dogs also have an emotional tie to mealtime, and having the predictability of mealtime helps during household changes such as welcoming a new pet or baby, vacation, or a child going off to college.
This predictability will also help in many other ways. When a dog is used to the routine of eating, they will naturally be hungry before their mealtime. This means it will be easier to introduce new food changes if your dog needs to make a dietary adjustment.
Similarly, if your dog is sick or unwell, they may have a reduced appetite. It is easier to identify if your dog isn’t eating if they are refusing their typical, scheduled meals as opposed to random meals throughout your day. If you feed your dog sporadically, you may confuse being sick with not being hungry at that time. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s specific dietary needs as well.
How often should you feed a puppy?
Puppies are growing rapidly and require more food/feedings than adult dogs. Typically, in the first few months that puppies are able to eat solid food, it is recommended to feed them 3 or 4 times a day as opposed to 2. Of course, these meals are more frequent but should be smaller than a regular meal. Feeding your puppy consistently will help regulate their energy levels throughout the day.
The breed and size of your puppy will help determine the frequency they should be fed, so consult your vet to determine what is best for your puppy. A toy breed will require more frequent but smaller meals than a large breed puppy, for example.
Once your puppy is five or six months old, they should be ready to transition to mealtimes twice a day.