How Often Should You Feed Your Dog: A Guide to Getting it Right
Perfecting your pet’s diet is an important part of helping them live a happy and healthy life. Along with deciding the best diet for your dog, you also need to think about how often you should feed your dog a day.
This ultimately depends on a few factors like your dog’s age and diet. Read on to learn more about how often you should feed your dogs.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dogs?
Most experts agree that you should feed a healthy, adult dog at least two times a day. Ideally, meals should be spaced apart by about 8 to 12 hours, and it’s equally important to feed your dog a complete and balanced diet similar to how their ancestors ate.
Of course, there are some things that can affect how often you should feed your dog. Puppies, for instance, eat more meals a day than adult dogs to support their growth. Senior dogs may naturally have less of an appetite as they age and require fewer calories. They may not eat as often during the day or eat smaller portions at mealtimes. And dogs with certain health conditions may need more or less food and scheduled meals depending on their needs.
Generally speaking, you should feed your dog twice a day unless your dog requires more or fewer meals. You should also tailor portion sizes to your dog's age, weight, and activity level to ensure they're receiving the proper number of calories. For instance, Perfectly Rawsome provides a great guide for how to feed small dog breeds a raw diet.
Can You Feed Your Dog Once a Day?
There is also a lot of emerging research about the benefits of feeding your dog once a day or practicing intermittent fasting. If your dog is obese, like the majority of pets in the U.S., feeding them one nutritious and balanced meal a day can help with weight loss, according to Dr. Karen Shaw Becker at Healthy Pets. Along with weight loss, intermittent fasting may also help your dog “detox” to improve their energy levels and immune system.
Recent research from the University of Arizona Dog Aging Project has also been promising. The research found that “dogs fed once daily rather than more frequently had lower mean scores on a cognitive dysfunction scale, and lower odds of having gastrointestinal, dental, orthopedic, kidney/urinary, and liver/pancreas disorders.”
In short, the research found that once-daily feeding is associated with better health in multiple domains. Though more research needs to be conducted, feeding your dog once a day could be a great option for helping them live a long and healthy life.
How Often Should You Feed Puppies?
Puppies need food more frequently than adult dogs to help support their development. Most professionals agree that puppies between 6-12 weeks require four feedings a day. At the three-month mark, these feedings can be decreased to three a day, and by six months, two (or one) can be enough.
Feeding guidelines for puppies can vary by breed, so make sure to talk to your vet about the best schedule and portions for your new puppy.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dog Raw Meat?
In a recent poll, 75% of We Feed Raw customers said they feed their adult dogs twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. A smaller percentage feed once a day, and an even smaller percentage feed three or more times a day. Finding the right feeding routine comes down to what works best for you and your pup.
Remember, you can also feed your dog one balanced, nutritious meal a day. If you want to try this method, it’s essential that you feed your dog a meal that’s balanced, so they’re still receiving the nutrients they need throughout the day. A raw diet naturally lends itself better to intermittent fasting than kibble since it can help with the detoxification process and is more easily digested.
How Often Should You Feed Your Dogs Treats?
If you find your dog begging between meals, it can be tempting to slip them a treat. And it’s definitely okay to give your dog snacks throughout the day!
The Healthy Journal recommends that pet owners follow the 10% rule when it comes to giving their dog treats. That means, throughout the day, treats should make up a maximum of 10% of your dog’s diet and the other 90% of their calories should come from their meals. That’s why it’s important to understand your dog’s caloric intake to ensure you’re not overloading them with treats.
When choosing treats for your pup, go for low-calorie options that are still nutritious and delicious, such as:
•Single-ingredient dehydrated meat treats
•Dehydrated fish skins
Dehydrated meat treats are a great alternative to grain-based treats and may be more enticing (and nutritious) than raw fruits and veggies. Just make sure to choose a single-ingredient treat made from 100% meat, meaning no added sugar, fillers, or flavoring. It’s also easy to make dehydrated dog treats at home in the oven or food dehydrator, though it’s a lengthy process.
What About Free Feeding?
Your dog would love to have free access to food at all times, and leaving out food can feel like the most convenient choice, but it’s always best to stick to a consistent feeding schedule.
Free feeding, or giving your dog unlimited access to food throughout the day, can actually do more harm than good. It’s more difficult to ensure your dog isn’t overeating (which can easily lead to obesity) or not eating enough. And leaving raw or wet food out all day can leave it prone to spoiling and making your pet sick.
Your dog thrives on routine, so it’s important to feed them meals around the same time every day. This can be a great bonding experience with your pup as you create a schedule together. Plus, this gives you control over your pet’s portion and ensures you know how much they’re eating.
These scheduled meal times are also a great way to check in on your pet. Their appetite can be an important indicator of their health. By monitoring their mealtimes, you can see if they’re not finishing their meals, eating too quickly, or possibly having an allergic reaction to any ingredients.
And don’t forget to also focus on what’s going on in your dog’s bowl. Create your pet’s perfect meal plan with We Feed Raw today. Our meals are always complete and balanced along with being portioned to your dog’s breed, age, and activity level.
Complete & balanced raw meals.
Portioned out, packaged up, and cold-shipped (for FREE!).