The amount and quality of the food you feed your dog is one of the most significant predictors of dog health. Obesity is a serious problem in dogs, and poor nutrition can lead to bone and joint issues, cancer, allergies and other serious health problems. While most people feed their dogs twice a day -- once in the morning and once in the evening -- there are several different feeding schedules you can adopt, depending on your dog's needs and your veterinarian's recommendations.
One meal per day works best for older and obese dogs. Puppies need to eat at least twice a day, so avoid a once-daily schedule until your dog is at least a year old. If your dog is home alone for extended periods of time each day, feeding him in the evening can help prevent accidents. Conversely, obese dogs can benefit from eating in the morning. This allows them to burn off calories throughout the day. If you feed your dog once per day, ensure that you give him the amount of food recommended by your veterinarian at this feeding.
Most dog owners feed their dogs twice a day. This schedule makes it less likely that your dog will beg while you are eating and coincides neatly with your breakfast and dinner. This feeding option is excellent for your growing puppies and your high-energy dogs that get lots of exercise and therefore need plenty of calories. Space the meal 10 to 12 hours apart. Make sure you split the recommended daily feeding amount in half for each meal.
A schedule of three or more feedings is generally reserved for dogs with health problems and puppies. Puppies under 7 weeks should be permitted to nurse on demand and, when they begin eating solid food, should get small quantities of semi-solid food two to three times daily. Malnourished dogs and dogs that are on some medications or undergoing chemotherapy may also require frequent feedings. Some homemade diets, such as the raw foods diet, are also suitable for multiple daily feedings. Ask your vet about how much food to feed your dog at each feeding. If your dog is sick, you may need to focus on particular nutrients or give medicine along with his food.
Treats and Snacks
Many people forget that dog treats, raw hides and dog chews contain calories and should count as part of your dog's daily caloric intake. If you are training your dog and give him numerous treats, you may need to cut back on his food intake at meal time or reduce his feeding schedule to once per day. It's generally wise to avoid giving your dog treats right before bed because your dog may have trouble sleeping or have nighttime accidents.
- Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs; Lew Olson
- The Whole Pet Diet; Andi Brown
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Delbert G. Carlson et al.
- dog bones image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com