One of the biggest debates in the world of dog owners is how often to feed your pup. Do you give them a breakfast early in the day, followed by a lunch and dinner, or could that risk possibly over-feeding them? Or do you wait until the end of the day and give them one big meal? Here’s a look at the best feeding options to keep your dog healthy and well-fed, no matter their age.
Two Meals A Day
Ideally, you should feed your dog twice a day. Most importantly, these two meals should be provided at the exact same time every day. A regular schedule means they will also end up having regular bathroom times every day. As well, you can monitor if there are any health issues present. When dogs are feeling ill, they may not eat as much. So if your pup is on a regular eating schedule, you will know right away if there are any issues.
The key is to ensure that they are not given more food than what is recommended by your veterinarian. Some food labels can be misleading, so it’s best to consult your vet for proper feeding. Keep in mind that the less expensive dog foods use filler such as corn and brewers rice, which means your dog may not be getting the same nutrition as brands that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional standards.
Don’t Go Grazing
The feeding option most dog experts say to avoid is leaving a topped-up bowl of dog food out for your pup to munch on throughout the day. For dog owners with a busy schedule, this option may be the easiest but it does not provide many benefits for your pup.
For dogs that always have access to their food, there is a better chance of them eating more than they need, which can lead to problems as they get older, such as excessive weight gain or health issues like heart disease or diabetes.
For young puppies, they actually need a lot of separate meals of smaller amounts to help them grow healthy and strong. Puppies are able to start on solid foods as early as three-to-four weeks old. At that young age, feeding them as many as five times a day may be required. Just keep the amounts relatively small with puppy-specific types of dog food. Check with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount of food based on your puppies age and breed.
Once your pup reaches six weeks, you can reduce the amount of meals down to three or four times per day. After eight weeks, three meals a day should be sufficient for your pup, no matter what breed they are. Keep in mind that puppies may start eating less for the period of time when they are teething. This usually occurs for pups between three and six months of age.
As dogs reach their golden years, their desire to eat may reduce because of inactivity or health issues. They may not be able to run around as much as they did when they were younger so they won’t need as much food as they used to. At this point in their lives, you may want to move them to a senior dog food which has lower calories or just start giving them less food each day.
For some aging dogs, they are susceptible to a number of different diseases. Monitoring their eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight will be key to helping them remain healthy in their later years.
Keep It Consistent
When it comes to feeding your pup, just remember that dogs have sensitive stomachs. Switching pet food brands often may cause them discomfort. If you want to make a switch, be sure to do it gradually over a couple of weeks so they can get used to the different taste and formula.
Overall, the best monitor for your dog’s needs is your dog themselves. If they are perfectly healthy but not eating all of their food, you may be overfeeding them. If they are hungry all the time, they may be missing key nutrients.
It’s important to be aware of your dog’s eating habits. The amount, speed and how they digest their food will give you a good sense of their health, activity level and general happiness.