Feeding Your Dog: How Often Should Your Dog Eat

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Did you know that puppies should be fed up to four times per day? Read on to discover how much your dog should eat each day. Once you know this, your canine will have a better life.

New and even experienced dog owners face important questions – How often should dogs eat? One guideline doesn’t fit every dog. Diet and nutrition are important when it comes to having a healthy and well-built dog.

Dogs should eat food that’s specially designed for them and created for specific age – you should never feed a puppy with senior dog food, and vice versa.

How often your dog should eat may depend on many aspects, including the dog’s size, breed, feeding style, and overall health.

Diet and nutrition are important components when it comes to having a strong, healthy, and happy dog. Though there’s no hard-and-fast rule to how often a dog should eat, twice a day is generally a good place to start.

When it comes to a dog’s nutrition, mean portion size is far more important than frequency.

Do you feel guilty eating three delicious meals while your dog gets only one or two meals per day?

Even when you give your dog extra treats, you feel like you are missing something like he’s not getting enough food.

Believing in something and knowing something for sure are two different things. You don’t have to feel bad for serving more portions to your dog.

How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?

Most experts recommend feeding your dog twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — although this rule doesn’t apply to puppies. Puppies are just exploring the world, and to them, a strict feeding schedule doesn’t apply.

As a general rule, puppies should be fed four meals a day, bringing this down to 3 meals a day at the age of 4 months until your pup is six months.

It’s crucial that the puppy is fed a diet designed for his size and breed. There are diest specially created for puppies and young dogs that will promote a dog’s healthy growth and bone development.

If your dog has 12 months or older, you should feed him one to two meals per day. Small breeds burn energy much faster than large breeds and should be fed 2-3 small meals a day. Little and often is key!

What Affects How Often a Dog Should Eat?

Veterinarians and other dog experts will often say that the best option is to feed your dog at least twice per day.

This applies to dogs who are healthy and physically fit. If a dog has any special dietary needs, allergies, or any infection, he might need a different feeding schedule, specially created for his needs.

Some dogs may even have different restrictions or special menus. It’s always recommended to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s eating habits so you are sure you’re meeting their nutritional needs and healthcare requirements.

Your veterinarian will also tell you how much exactly you should feed your dog.

Breed plays an enormous role when deciding how often to feed your dog. Large breeds will require more feeding and more calories per day, compared to medium and small breed dogs.

Age is an important factor, therefore, the caloric requirements for a two-month-old Pomeranian vary significantly compared to a two-year-old Caucasian Shepherd dog.

How Accurate Are The Feeding Guidelines On My Dog Food Label?

Having a dog is a huge responsibility. Caring about the dog is caring about another living being, which is why you should have a culture of visiting your veterinarian frequently.

Your veterinarian is there to help you provide better living conditions to your dog, so talking openly about the dog’s eating habits should be mandatory.

Now, you may ask yourself why to deal with veterinarians when feeding guidelines are listed on the dog’s food label? The truth is that recommended feeding guidelines are rarely accurate and should only be used as a rough starting point.

Guidelines may vary depending on the manufacturer, which means that there is little or no consistency between brands.

Plus, food labels can be misleading or even confusing. In some cases, generic feeding charts may over-calculate how much to feed a dog, while some may use outdated information.

Again, a dog’s age, health, energy level, breed type, reproductive status, and exercise level will significantly influence the amount of food your dog should receive, which is why it’s so important to consult your veterinarian.

What Sort of Feeding Schedule Works?

Should you stick to a strict feeding schedule, or should you explore free-feeding? Veterinarians have already formed an opinion on this matter. According to them, free-feeding is not recommended and should be avoided all the time.

Free-feeding or leaving food available to dogs at all times could attract rodents, raccoons, and insects.

Plus, your dog might not have the control, and he could easily eat anything you leave unattended in front of him.

This way your dog could eat without control and some weight gain.

Obesity in dogs is a rising problem, plus dogs who eat more and fast and prone to deadly bloat, which is why you should be careful and strict when it comes to dog’s health habits.

Plus, if you have more than one pet, this can lead to bickering over the food. This method is especially not an option for dogs that are diabetic.

How Much Should Puppies Eat?

Just like humans, puppies eat frequently and a lot. Dogs feeding needs will change as he transit from puppyhood to adulthood.

Puppies are growing rapidly, and they need more food than adult dogs. Puppy nutrition is crucial for developing a foundation for future growth and bone development.

Puppies must have enough amount of calcium in their diet, otherwise, they can develop metabolic bone disease or even orthopedic conditions like early-onset arthritis.

For example, toy breed puppies are prone to hypoglycemia. Puppies need small and frequent feeding. For the first few months of their life, they will need small meals of food throughout the day as they transition from mother’s milk to solid food.

Around four-month of life, puppies will begin eating three times a day, and after that, they will switch to twice a day feeding.

Puppies should be fed frequently because it’s easier for them to digest the food that way. Plus, this way, their energy level will be consistent.

It’s also important not to overfeed them since overweight puppies are more likely to become overweight adult dogs.

Talk to your veterinarian about the best puppy food, portion meals, and how to keep puppies proportion meals right through puppyhood.

Puppies grow quickly, so it’s important to keep caloric intake and food amount consistent from four to twelve months of age.

What About Adult Dogs?

Dogs love food. No matter how much you feed them, they will always watch you with those big puppy eyes and ask you for more.

People usually cannot resist the urge to feed them, which is why obesity in pets is a rising issue.

Adult dogs need two meals a day, and if they beg you for more food a nice treat should do the trick.

Never feed your dog more than is recommended. Again: food labels can be misleading or confusing, which is why you should talk to your veterinarian about feeding needs.

Is It Ok To Give Dogs Healthy Table Scraps?

It’s always best to feed your dog with dog food only.

So, instead of giving him table scraps, better focus on giving him dog treats. Plus, learn which human foods are safe for dogs, and which should be avoided. The only way you create a well-balanced food for your dog is to use dog food only.

If you insist on offering your canine some table scraps, make sure to avoid fatty scraps because they can lead to weight gain.

Certain vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber, or broccoli are great to treat – they are low in fat, have a good source of vitamins and fiber, and they are a nice addition to your dog’s diet.

Just be careful, because not more than 10% of complete dog diest should be fresh vegetable or fruit.

Raw meat can be infected with bacteria, which is why some veterinarians don’t recommend a raw meat diet.

If you have a cat as well, don’t mix their foods because what’s nutritional for a cat isn’t beneficial for dogs, and vice versa. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, so never offer him some.

Feeding table scraps can encourage dogs to beg during meal times and even steal foods from tables, especially if your dog is of larger breeds and can easily reach the cooking area.

Feeding Tips

Talk to your veterinarian about the best feeding methods and stick to them. Only with proper nutrition, your dog can live a longer, happier, and healthier life.

Always provide fresh water and offer treats when your dog shows how a good boy he is; just overfeed him with treats.

Below you may find a quick cheat list on effective feeding tips, that will make your life mess-free and your dog healthy and happy.

  • Stick to one variety of good quality “complete balanced” dog food.
  • Never add supplements to a dog’s food unless the veterinarian said to do so.
  • Be careful not to overfeed your dog.
  • If you must change a dog’s diet, do it gradually over a period of 7-10 days, and not abruptly.
  • Do not feed your dog before traveling because this can encourage car-sickness.
  • Don’t feed your dog at least one hour after exercise to avoid stomach dilation and torsion, also known as bloat, a life-threatening condition.
  • Medium to large breeds of dogs should be fed from a raised bowl – this way, you will prevent them from swallowing air while they eat.
  • Never disturb a dog while eating from his bowl.
  • Never feed your dog from your plate or from the table.
  • Never take a dog’s water bowl away.