How Many Times A Day Do You Feed?

The number of times per day that you feed your pets is something of a personal choice.  Many people grew up feeding their dogs or cats near to the same time they fed themselves – thus the notion of “breakfast” and “dinner” was achieved.

Dogs with high metabolisms, such as this greyhound, often need to eat twice per day in order to maintain both weight and good health

Others always fed once per day, usually around dinnertime, and still others fed three or more times per day.  While there are no set in stone rules regarding this topic, there are certainly some different ideas and a couple of strong suggestions often related to health and safety issues.

Feeding raw and feeding kibble are different in many ways including optimal times per day to feed.  Its important for ANYONE feeding kibble (even if feeding part raw part kibble) to feed at least twice per day to avoid bloat dangers.  Large one time a day kibble meals can be a dangerous thing and can precipitate a case of bloat quite easily.  This is why its ALSO important to keep bags or containers of kibble closed and out of reach so there is no between meal gorging!  It is equally important to not free feed your dog kibble.  Sure, its easy to do – especially when you have that rare dog that doesn’t gulp its food or overeat at all BUT there are problems associated with this type of feeding to be sure.  How are you to know just how much food your dog is eating per day?  Would you notice if your dog didn’t eat?  If you have a “picker” who snacks slowly all day long you may not notice if they are off their food and lack of appetite is a symptom of many illnesses.  It can be crucial to know if your dog is eating normally or not.  Behavior and training problems can result from a dog who has free access to his food as well.  Feed meals, make sure that your dog knows where his food comes from – it gives you a position of authority in your household and all dogs need a leader and that leader needs to be you.

Raw doesn’t present the same problems that kibble does.  Let’s face it, leaving it out all day for our dogs to pick at isn’t

Growing puppies do best with several meals per day depending on their age and breed

going to happen – its real, its raw, it can’t be left out all day long.  Besides, very few dogs will pick at a raw meal – they pretty much eat it as its put in front of them.  Raw also doesn’t generally contribute to bloat in a dog, so eating one large meal of raw won’t have the potential to cause this deadly condition.  This leaves the raw feeder free to decide how they wish to proceed with feeding.  Many decide to stick to a twice a day schedule.  That works for most any dog.  Some opt for a single large meal at dinner time and a smaller snack type meal in the morning.  This can often make things easier on those of us who work and never seem to have enough time to get ready in the morning!  Some skip a morning meal altogether (or evening meal) and simply feed once per day.  It all is going to depend on your particular dogs.  Some dogs need two meals per day – you will sometimes find that your dog will vomit bile if they don’t eat more than once – they can’t deal with an empty stomach.  Others have metabolisms that demand two or more feedings per day and owners find its nearly impossible to keep them in good weight without feeding at least twice.  Still others are picky, simply put they eat to live rather than live to eat.  Several small meals per day can be more beneficial to these dogs as well.  Dogs with particular illnesses may fall into this category – its up to you to decide what’s best.  Puppies should always be fed more than once per day.  In fact, three or more times a day up until they are 4-5 months of age is best.  At around 5-6 months of age, many will do fine with going down to two meals and then as they age and growth slows, adjusting them to their adult schedule is advised.

So is there are right and wrong way?  Depends on what you feed and your dog as an individual.  Let them dictate to a certain degree just how many mealtimes they need – watch them and adjust as necessary.  Don’t give primarily kibble fed pets a whole lot of choice though – you are the one who knows best what’s safe for them considering all of the pitfalls associated with feeding kibble.  Do whats’ best for your dogs and you really can’t go wrong!