Finding the right feeding schedule for your dog
At one time or another, most pet owners will have wondered ‘what time should I feed my dog?’ Much like humans, dogs thrive on routine and their diet is a major part of this. Nevertheless, while breakfast, lunch, and dinner may work for humans, the canine digestive system is very different and requires a unique feeding schedule.
To decide when you feed your dog, you must first choose which method of feeding is best suited to them. This is dependent on several factors, including your own routine, your pet’s age and their activity level. Here, James Wellbeloved provides guidance on finding the right feeding schedule for your dog.
Possibly the most common method of feeding, ‘timed feeding’ means giving your dog food twice a day, with an 8 to 12-hour interval in-between. At each feeding, you allow your dog approximately 30 minutes to eat their food and then take any remainder away. Although an 8 to 12-hour interval may sound like a long time, the canine stomach generally takes 4 to 6 hours to fully digest food and hunger signals aren’t sent to the brain until at least 8 hours after a dog has last eaten.
While James Wellbeloved doesn’t recommend leaving your dog alone for long periods if you can avoid it, this method works particularly well for people who must go out to work during the day. The interval allows you to feed your dog before going out in the morning, take them for a short walk to relieve themselves and then feed them again when you return home.
An increasingly popular method of feeding, many are now solving the ‘what time should I feed my dog’ issue by allowing their pet to decide. This method means giving your dog’s whole portion of food at once and allowing them to decide when they eat it. You should always use dry food for this method, so that it doesn’t spoil.
This method is generally recommended only for dogs who burn lots of calories in a day. This means dogs of a healthy weight who are highly active, or a dog nursing recently-born puppies. Their hunger can be less predictable than other dogs and so giving them choice can be positive.
You must be careful that this method is suitable for your dog. If they are not highly active or you are leaving too much food for them, this feeding routine can lead to overfeeding and subsequent obesity. Furthermore, remember that dogs often need to defecate after eating and so this method should be avoided if your pet has issues with incontinence.
You should also be aware that this method can attract pests, due to food being left out all day. If this becomes an issue you should consider a feeding schedule that limits the time food is out.
This method is only suitable for dogs struggling with weight issues and you should always consult a vet before deciding to use it. A vet will be able to provide guidance on a healthy weight for your dog and how to best help them to achieve it.
Control portions means carefully measuring the quantity of food your dog needs each day to help them lose or gain weight. A vet will help you to decide the amount of food your dog ought to be eating and you then feed them this across two feedings each day, with an 8 to 12-hour gap in-between.
WHEN TO FEED PUPPIES
Much like human children, puppies use up huge amounts of energy each day to grow. This means that their feeding schedule will differ greatly from an adult dog’s. Puppies should generally be fed smaller amounts, with smaller intervals in-between. It is often recommended you feed puppies 4 small meals per day, although it is best to consult a vet if you are unsure about the frequency or amount of food they need.
If you have concerns about your dog’s feeding schedule, seek guidance from a vet, who will be able to help you decide the best method for you and your pet.