Have you ever thought about when the best time of day to feed your dog is?
Some pet owners believe that it simply doesn’t matter. Food is food, right? Others, like myself, find that it’s important to set up a good system of when you will feed your dog to make sure they can make the most of their meals.
I recently received a question about feeding times from a concerned owner who only feeds their dog one time per day. While there may be nothing wrong with feeding once per day, there is some info out there that suggests owners should do otherwise. Let’s break down the facts and figure out what to do about feeding times!
The Controversy: One Or Two Times Per Day
The main point of conflict that comes up when people discuss the best time to feed their dogs is whether or not you should feed your dog two times per day. Some people even put their dog’s food out all day long, which is called “free feeding.”
In most cases, you should feed your dog two times per day. By doing so, you are helping their digestive system work more effectively, and you are ensuring that their energy will remain consistent throughout the whole day.
If you only feed your dog in the morning, their digestive system might be weighed down by too much food at one time, and they won’t be able to process the food as efficiently. Feeding half the amount in two controlled portions will help your dog live healthier.
One big exception to this is puppies. Puppies should eat three times per day in smaller portions to help them gain weight properly and to help their digestive system develop. Feeding them at specific times will also help you to train them more efficiently.
So, what is the best way to feed?
There is no “right” or “wrong” answer, but I recommend following these guidelines to decide if you should allow your dog to free feed or if you should feed them a set number of times per day.
Free feeding: This is recommended for nursing dogs who need a constant supply of calories and for highly active dogs that need to replenish their calories throughout the day. If you have a dog that lays around most of the day or is diabetic, do not do this.
Control Portions: This is the best method to feed your dog, particularly if they are the type that will eat anything you put in front of them and would quickly get obese while free feeding. The best way to control portions is to feed your dog two times a day at about 8 to 12 hour intervals.
What Time Should I Feed My Dog?
If you are feeding your dog one time per day, you should feed them in the morning, but feeding them two times a day is probably better for them so that they do not get hungry by the end of the day.
If you are feeding two times per day, feed your dogs once in the morning when you both get up and again between 8 and 12 hours later. Keep the timing consistent from day to day, as your dog’s body will become accustomed to eating at a certain time.
Consider These Conditions…
There are some cases where you may want to change how you are feeding your dog and how much you are feeding them. If any of the following cases happens to your dog, adjust their diet and meal times appropriately:
- Diagnosed with a food related condition; may need to set specific meal times to manage it
- Dog becomes more active; may need to feed them more times per day or free feed
- Weather is very hot or cold; their bodies may need more food at each meal time to regulate their temperature
- Recovering from surgery; may need to eat a specific diet
- Pregnant or nursing; will need to eat more throughout the day
It’s important to always adjust how much your dog eats and when they are eating to fit their current lifestyle. If your dog always seems hungry but is gaining weight, you may even need to change their food to a high-quality, filling dog food (here are some reviews) that will keep them from being hungry all the time.
Consistency Is Key
As you can see, there can be arguments made for or against feeding your dog two times instead of one time per day. Every dog is different, so you should make your choices based on your dog’s particular needs and preferences.
No matter when you choose to feed your dog, consistency is key. The best time to feed your dog is at the same time you feed them every other day! To create a proper feeding routine, you should always feed at the same meal time. This will help your dog’s body digest more regularly and set good expectations for your dog’s meal time.
Do you feed your dog one or two times per day? Let us know what your preference is; after all, every dog’s situation demands a unique approach!