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Appropriate Eating Times for Dogs


Deciding when in the day to feed your dog is an important part of his care. Just as what he eats, whether it's dry food, semi-moist, wet food, raw food or a home-cooked diet, can affect your dog's weight, health and well-being, so can the timing, and frequency of his meals

Mealtimes for Adult Dogs

  • The ASPCA recommends feeding your adult dog twice a day, with 8 to 12 hours between his meals.

    You can give him one third of his daily amount in the morning, and the rest in the evening when he is less active and can digest it overnight. If he doesn't eat all his food within 10 to 20 minutes, remove the bowl, and don't be tempted to give him extra with the next meal. This helps to prevent your dog becoming picky over food. It's also a good idea not to exercise him an hour before or after he's eaten. The exact time of his meals will depend on your routine and when your dog is happiest eating. For example, he may eat better once the kids have gone to school. The important thing is to establish a regular feeding routine.

When to Feed Your Puppy

  • A puppy has a small tummy and needs his meals spread out evenly over the day. From about 8 weeks to 4 months he is best with four meals a day, going down to three a day until he is 6 months old. From then on, he can be fed twice daily. If a puppy is brought into a house where there is an adult dog, the older dog can be given food at the same time as the puppy, and go back to two meals a day when the puppy is 6 months old.


When to Feed More Frequently

  • It's generally fine to feed your dog more frequently than twice a day, providing you divide his daily intake into smaller portions. For some dogs, this is better. An overweight dog whose food needs to be reduced will get less hungry between meals if he's fed four times a day. Some tiny breeds with small tummies and higher metabolic rates can benefit from having at least three meals a day. Many large, deep-chested breeds are prone to a life-threatening condition called bloat. Feeding several small meals throughout the day, which keeps the dog from eating too much, too fast, is believed to help prevent this serious condition.

Free Choice Feeding

  • You can choose to have food constantly available for your dog, especially if you feed dry food. This suits some dogs, but this practice can cause problems. A dog can become overweight or underweight with free-feeding. It can also be awkward if your dog has to go into kennels where he isn't able to have constant access to food. With a puppy, it can make house training more difficult. If he has regular mealtimes, it's easier to know when he needs a potty outing.

Working For His Food

  • One meal, each day, can be used to help prevent your dog from getting bored when home alone. Place bits of kibble around the house so your dog has a great time hunting for his food. Alternatively, put his meal into a food puzzle toy. These are made of hard rubber or plastic, and the dog has to roll, shake, paw, chew and lick at the toy to get his food out.

When to Give Treats

  • It's fine to let your dog have good-quality treats occasionally. If you use them regularly for training, reduce your dog's meals accordingly. Treats shouldn't make up more than 15 percent of your dog's total calories in a day. Don't be tempted to feed your dog titbits from your meal -- that will only teach him to beg whenever people are eating.


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