How often should I feed my dog?

Health Nutrition Your Questions Answered

Hi, I’m Bill Wiadrowski from LifeWise Pet Nutrition and today’s question comes from Marcus who wants to know when do I feed my dog and how often should I do it?

Well that’s a really good question because that’s going to change with the age of the dog, obviously for puppies, speaking of baby puppies you might be feeding up to four times a day but as the animal gets older it needs less food so we can gradually reduce that so that by the time we get to being an adult we’d be down to about once a day and that’s plenty often enough.

Many people think that we should give our dog three square meals a day in the same way as we would have it ourselves, but it’s certainly not necessary. The dog has evolved as a fasting animal and it’s very adaptable in terms of its food intake and can go for days without food quite happily. In fact some professional dog people will only feed their dogs six times a week instead of seven and have one day of fasting and they think that this is a far healthier way to treat the animal.

The amount of food we actually give each time we feed them is worked out a number of different ways, one way resolves a normal eater – you basically want to feed them to satiation and that would be about the amount of food that the dog can eat in about 20 minutes. If he has a feed and walks away – that’s basically about it. Leave it any longer than that and they may come back and pick at it but we think 20 minutes is around about the measure.

Some animals of course, basically inhale food and only take about 3 seconds to get it down so the old 20 minutes rule doesn’t work so well with them, but you can always actually slow their feeding down, which is a lot healthier way of doing it feeding with some of those bowls that have the projections in them and the dog has to snuffle around in the bowl to get it. Another alternative would be to just to feed the dog in a muffin tray, put a bit of food in each of the holes in the muffin tray and make him work to get the food – another even more agricultural approach to feeding would be just throw the food across the floor and let him go around and pick it up piece by piece – that’s a good way too of slowing down the amount of food that they eat.

As the dog gets older you might like to consider increasing the number of feeds per day, particularly for an older dog where they are tending to lose muscle mass quicker than what they can put it back on, at that stage it’s very important that we try to get as much nutrition into the body to keep the condition up as well as we can under the circumstances so that they can weather their old age just that so much better.

The method that we use the most here at LifeWise is ad-lib feeding, in other words food is available all day – and lets face it.. dogs living at a dog food factory, it’s pretty hard to keep them away from food, so we just have food out for them continuously. And what they do is they come and eat when they want it and they take in the amount of food that they want – some days they wont eat at all and other days they’ll eat a lot. One of the really good things about feeding this way is that you are reducing the stress – and anything that reduces the stress in the dogs life increases his quality of life and wellbeing.

So there you go, it’s a bit of a mixed bag this question Marcus, I hope that answers it for you and gave you some ideas and hints as to how to go about feeding your dog.  If you have any more questions please send them in, until them we’ll see you next time.


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