The 3 Best Times of Day To Feed Your Dog

Picture of a dog eating

There are many ways to feed your dog, and some people argue that one way is the only right way to do it. However, there is no right way, except for the way that works best for both you and your dog, including their meal times.

The best time of day to feed your dog is a time that you can consistently give them food. If you give your dog food once a day, morning is the best time. If you give meals twice a day, morning and your own dinner time are the best.

Let’s talk more about all of the factors that go into picking the best time to feed the dog. We will discuss all of the times that people claim to be the best for feeding, and go over the circumstances that may change how often and how much you should feed your dog.

How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Dog?

There is a lot of controversy between pet professionals over how often you should feed your dog every day. Some pet owners swear by giving their dogs food only once a day, while others give their dogs smaller portions all day long.

Some people even practice free-feeding, which is when you leave dry food out all day for your dog to graze on. Keeping your dog’s bowl full all day can be beneficial if you cannot keep a strict feeding schedule or if your dog is not overly enthusiastic about eating. Still, free-feeding can often cause your dog to gain weight, and if you have multiple dogs, it can result in a fight. Free-feeding can work for some dogs, but for others, it is not very healthy.

Generally, the healthiest practice is to feed them twice a day. Putting out food twice a day will help your dog stay satisfied all day and night. Feeding your dog multiple times a day will also keep your dog from feeling bogged down by eating larger portions once a day, and it will keep it from getting hungry at night.

It would be best if you spaced out your feeding schedule, only feeding your dog every 8-12 hours. If you provide your dog with the right portions for their weight, they should stay satisfied through the day and the night.

Honestly, the key to feeding your dog is consistency. If you provide your dog with food at the same time every day, their metabolism will adjust to their feeding schedule. Regular feeding times will help your dog stay full day and night, so you should pick a time that you can always feed your dog.

Things To Consider When Deciding on a Feeding Schedule

Although it is generally best to feed the dog twice a day, there are a few exceptions.

Puppies

Puppies need to eat small portions of food at least three times a day to give them all of the nutrients they need to grow. Puppies need to be given smaller amounts of food throughout the day as they learn to eat solid foods, mostly when they have just been weaned. Once your puppy is about 6-12 months old, you can switch to feeding twice a day.

Activity Level

If your dog is very active, you may need to feed it more. Active dogs burn up more calories, which will make them hungrier throughout the day. If your dog gets much exercise, you may need to offer them three meals a day. Highly active dogs may also benefit from free-feeding, but if your dog starts to put on excessive weight or develops food aggression, you may need to switch to just feeding them two or three times a day.

Temperature and Climate

You may also need more food when it is cold outside since it will take extra energy for your dog to keep warm. If your dog starts to look thinner or shows excessive interest in food during cold months, you should probably feed them three times a day or increase their portion sizes. If you are changing your dog’s diet and portion sizes, you should always do so gradually since feeding changes can result in digestive issues.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding

Dogs who are pregnant and breastfeeding require more food so that they can nourish and sustain healthy puppies. Growing and feeding five to ten puppies can take a lot out of a mama dog, so they must have enough food to keep themselves and their puppies healthy.

If your dog is pregnant, you should slowly increase her portions around week five of her pregnancy. By week nine, you should have raised her food portions by a third of her normal intake.

While breastfeeding, you should feed your dog this increased portion of food three times a day or switch to free-feeding. Providing your dog with plenty of food will ensure that she can produce enough milk to feed a hungry litter of babies. After the puppies have been weaned, you should slowly decrease the amount of food your dog eats, working back down to two meals a day.

Health Concerns

Some medical conditions may impact how much food your dog should be eating. Overweight dogs usually need a strict feeding schedule to lose weight, while dogs with digestive problems might need to be fed more times during the day.

If your dog has recently had surgery or been diagnosed with a medical condition, you may need to change up its diet. If you detect any medical problems, consult with your vet on the best feeding options for your dog.

While consistency is the most crucial factor to consider when picking a time to feed your dog, some times are better than others. If you choose a feeding time that accounts for your dog’s activity level, they will not get as hungry throughout the day or night.

Morning

Even for dogs, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether you only feed your dog once a day or three times a day, you must give them food in the morning. Feeding your dog first thing in the morning will keep your dog feeling full all day, ensuring that they have enough energy to stay active.

Feeding your dog in the morning can also be a great way to keep a schedule for feeding times. If you wake up around the same time every day, you can easily get in the habit of feeding your dog at that time. If you often sleep in or wake up at irregular times, you should always pick a time that you will always be available to feed your dog to be consistent.

Dinner Time

If you usually eat your dinner at a specific time, you might want to feed your dog every night right before eating your dinner. Feeding your dog when you eat your dinner is an easy way to ensure that your dog eats at a consistent time, and it can help you keep track of when you feed your dog.

Feeding your dog at dinner time will keep them satisfied throughout the night, which can help them have a more restful night. Evening feeding times are particularly beneficial for dogs who get restless throughout the night. Dogs who get hungry at night might stay awake to explore your home for a snack, often leaving wreckage behind them.

Noon

If you feed your dog three times a day, noon is the best time to insert the third meal. Dogs run out of energy when they do not eat, just like humans, so feeding your dog around the times that you get hungry can be a great way to gauge how often your dog should be eating. If your dog gets much exercise in the mornings or needs to eat more food, noon is the perfect halfway between morning and night meals.

When Do I Need To Change My Dog’s Feeding Schedule?

Every dog is unique, and it is important to note how your dog is reacting to its feeding schedule. It can take a bit of trial and error to find the right amount of food and feeding times for your dog. You might want to consider trying something new if:

  • You can see your dog’s ribs.
  • Your dog is overly interested in food or becomes food aggressive.
  • Your dog becomes overweight.
  • Your dog loses interest in food.
  • Your dog becomes lethargic.

If you see any of these signs, it would be best to adjust your dog’s feeding schedule or modify the food portions you give them. If you are worried that any of these symptoms of overfeeding and underfeeding might be caused by a medical problem, you should take your dog to a vet and discuss their feeding schedule.

Conclusion

While some people say that there is one best time to feed your dog, the best practice is to give your dog food at the same time every day.

You can use your eating schedule to remind you to feed your dog, but you should keep an eye on how your dog reacts to their food intake to ensure that they get the right amount of food at the correct times. Some circumstances may impact how much you should be feeding your dog, so each feeding schedule should be just as unique as your dog is.

Sources

Andrew

My name is Andrew, and I've been around dogs my entire life. Look at my profile picture and, you see me as a little kid with my family's two German Shepherds. That's how my life with dogs started, and ever since, I've been both living and working with dogs.

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