New pet owners, especially those who are taking care of a furry friend for the first time, have a lot of questions! We don’t blame them, it’s a new experience and you want to be doing everything you can to give them a good life. One of the biggest questions you face is how often should you be feeding them, and for good reason! The amount of food a pet requires varies on size, breed, and more!
This time on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog, let’s dive in and answer that question.
How Often Should I Feed My Dog
First, there’s no hard and fast rule here about how often a dog should eat or be fed. Twice a day is generally the place most people start, and it’s a good one. But the more important question than the frequency of feedings is the size of their meal. Portions are important and these can vary based on all sorts of factors.
What Factors Influence Meal Sizes?
The biggest factor is breed. Not all dogs are 100% alike in their needs. Large dog breeds will require more calories, more food throughout the day, and thus more meals. Medium and smaller breed dogs will require less. Age is another big factor as the needs of a puppy are larger than an older dog of the same breed.
The baseline most vets stand by is feeding your dog at least twice a day, so long as they are healthy and don’t require any specialized feeding. This allows your dog to digest and get the most of their food, as opposed to one too big meal, or several small snacks throughout the day.
How Much Should Puppies Eat Then?
Puppies are growing rapidly, so they need more food, more frequently than their adult kin. But puppy nutritional needs are different too. You can’t just give them double the amount of their adult breed. Puppies need specific amounts of calcium, to help them build healthy bones, and since they are so small, they’ll need to be fed in smaller, more frequent feedings. For the first few months, a puppy will need small meals regularly throughout the day. At about 4 months that’s likely to go down to 3 meals, and then after that the standard two meals a day for dogs.
Puppies of a toy-breed may require even more smaller meals during the early months up to 4-6 meals. Medium breeds 3 meals a day, large breeds 3-4.
The frequency of smaller meals helps puppies digest the food, absorb the needed nutrition, and keep their energy consistent. It’s important to make sure you’re not overfeeding them, however! Overweight puppies are more likely to grow into overweight dogs, and that’s no good.
How Much Should Adult Dogs Eat?
OK, so you’ve managed their meals throughout puppydom and they’ve grown into a happy, healthy beast. Now what? Adult dogs have different caloric needs than their puppy friends so make sure you’re not overfeeding. For best results make sure that you are feeding them two meals a day, and for each meal cover half of their daily needs.
What Feeding Schedule Works Best?
So we talked about the idea of two meals a day, that’s one most common and beneficial feeding schedule. Some houses employ a free-feeding schedule. That is to say, where there is always food available in the bowl. This isn’t recommended especially for multi-dog homes because it can be difficult to properly account for the different diet and eating behaviors of the dogs – one may overeat while another under eats.
Stick to a schedule, just like you do for meals, will help your pet avoid overeating and encourage good mealtime behavior. Speak with your vet if you have any other questions about your pet’s specific dietary needs!