How Much And How Often Should I Feed My Dog?
How much and how often a dog should be fed is a question often asked of our friends at Burns Pet Nutrition. In this article, they break it down for us. In general, they say, it’s not how often, but the overall daily amount of food that is most important for the health of your dog. What people might not realise is that when it comes to dogs, there isn’t really a one size fits all approach.
How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Dog?
Dogs, in general, should be fed about twice per day. However, there are many different factors that should be considered and dogs with a sensitive stomach often do well on smaller, more frequent meals. The most important thing is how much food they have over the whole day. Once you have worked out their daily feeding amount you can split this between their number of meals, be it one, two or even three meals a day.
Dog Feeding Exceptions
While most adult dogs are content with being fed about once or twice a day, depending on how ‘food-motivated’ they are, there are exceptions to this rule. Here are just a few that should be considered:
A working dog will need to be fed more than once in 24 hours to control blood sugar levels and keep their energy up for the day ahead.
For larger, deep-chested breeds, at least two meals a day is recommended. This is because one large meal is more difficult to digest, which could lead to bloating and discomfort.
If your dog is suffering from a certain condition such as sensitive digestion, smaller, more frequent meals are recommended because they are easier to digest. For dogs with more serious conditions such as liver disease, smaller meals are also beneficial because they are more likely to be tolerated if your dog is feeling nauseous and poorly.
Do you have a poorly pup? Check out our Burns range of healthy dog food made with simple, wholesome ingredients especially for dogs with sensitive digestion.
How Often Should I feed my Puppy?
Puppies grow and develop rapidly, which means they need more food than adult dogs per kg of body weight to sustain this growth. However, feeding puppies is a little more complicated because their bowels are not yet strong enough to cope with larger amounts of food. We recommend offering smaller meals around 3-4 times per day from weaning, to be reduced as they get older, is a good rule.
How Feeding Could Affect the Behaviour of Your Puppy
Behaviourists have suggested that some of the ‘naughty’ behaviour of older puppies could be simply due to hunger. After all, losing concentration and being irritable when hungry is something many of us have experienced! Deciding to reduce the daily amount of meals largely depends on your own puppy’s growth rate and breed.
How Often Should I Feed My Elderly Dog
Elderly dogs are usually less active and often require fewer calories, so you can either reduce the amount of healthy dog food you feed or change to a lower calorie, natural dog food, such as Burns Weight Control.
Do Senior Dogs Eat Less?
Some very old dogs may refuse to eat much, possibly because their sense of smell and taste has declined with age. Certain diseases e.g. kidney failure can cause appetite suppression too.
If an elderly dog eats little and becomes underweight, changing them to a higher calorie diet may help them gain weight, even if eating small amounts, but it is best to have a check-up with a vet.
Do Senior Dogs Eat More?
An increased appetite has also been reported in older dogs. If underlying diseases such as diabetes have been ruled out, then it’s possible that the hunger is due to other causes. Theories include side-effects from medication, senility or simply because mealtimes are the now the highlight of their day.
A higher fibre food can help to satisfy hungry dogs as well as giving food more frequently so that they don’t have to wait so long in between meals.
Too Much and Never Enough: Free Feeding for Dogs
Free feeding is exactly how it sounds. The dog can eat as much as she wants from a regularly topped up bowl, grazing throughout the day. However, this isn’t always a good idea. As well as causing digestive upset and fussiness, dogs allowed to eat as much as they like can also become overweight, which can lead to associated problems such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
However, just like people, some dogs seem to be able to eat as much as they want and never gain weight. It may appear that they are perfectly healthy, but these dogs are often passing most of what they are eating through their digestive systems, resulting in huge, smelly, and often runny stools that the owner has to pick up. Allowing your pet to pick all day means that when fresh food is offered during proper mealtimes, he or she is simply not hungry anymore.
Free Feeding in Puppies
In puppies, free-feeding can allow the pup to eat much more than they need. Again, this may result in digestive problems but more seriously, it could cause rapid growth, which could lead to joint problems later in life. This is especially a problem with the larger breeds. We recommend keeping to steady puppy feeding times determined specifically for their breed, weight and age.
Free Feeding in Senior Dogs
We prefer not to recommend free feeding in senior dogs. It is important to know how much food your dog is eating a day and overfeeding can lead to health problems.
How to Measure Dog Food Portions
The golden rule for feeding your dog is always to measure their food. It’s so easy to make a mistake and overfeed your dog if you don’t measure out their portions correctly, which leaves them at risk of many obesity-related issues. We recommend using a kitchen scale or a standard dog food measuring cup to weigh and measure portions.
For tailored help and advice about feeding your dog or to request a free Burns sample, call their Nutrition Team on 0800 083 6696 or email [email protected].