How Many Times a Day Should a Dog Eat?Updated: August 30, 2022
Dogs love routines. This serves as an advantage in creating a regular feeding schedule for them and following it. A regular feeding schedule does more than you think. It helps you house-train your pups as they will generally go down to business in approximately 15 minutes after having a meal. This will help you identify when your dog needs to be taken outside to potty. But of course, aside from feeding your furbaby regularly, there is also the question of how many times a day should a dog eat.
Understanding a Dog’s Stomach Anatomy
Just like humans, a dog’s stomach anatomy is simple. Dogs have a simple stomach structure. Once their stomach is filled with food, it will empty itself in several hours as the food moves into the small intestine. An empty stomach starts to trigger a hunger response in the brain after 8 to 10 hours.
Just like humans, they should be eating multiple meals per day. What if you were only allowed to eat breakfast every day? You would likely run out of fuel you throughout the day. Feeding your dog at regular intervals and schedules enables their body to get ready for the food it will get.
Additionally, when your dog eats too much too fast, you encounter the risk of bloat and other serious issues. Snuffle mats for dogs, like the Forager™ Mat help to decrease this risk with slower eating. Although snuffle mats for dogs help to slow down meals, it is ideal to pair snuffle mats with more frequent feedings to work with your dog for longer meals and better eating habits.
How Many Meals Should My Dog Eat Each Day?
Your dog's number of meals per day is dependent on your family's routine and lifestyle. Dogs are recommended to have at least two meals each day, spaced around 12 hours apart. However, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule is also a good option. If your dog goes more than 12 hours without eating, their stomach may become overly acidic, which may make them feel sick.
How many times a day should a dog eat to develop a schedule? According to Pets WebMD, your dog can be fed in a variety of healthy methods. The top three are as follows:
"If you opt for free feeding a dog make sure to give only dry food to your dog so that it won’t spoil."
1. Let Your Dog Decide When to Eat
You might be able to employ the free-choice feeding strategy with dogs that are at a healthy weight and are not having accidents inside your house. This means letting your dog graze while you leave food for them out all day. This can be an excellent strategy for active dogs who burn lots of calories or dogs who self-regulate their meals and stop eating when full.
If you opt for free feeding a dog make sure to give only dry food to your dog so that it won’t spoil. Free feeding dogs is a good option for many nursing dog to ensure their puppies have access to a steady supply of milk. Nursing dogs need a lot of calories.
However, many dogs will not be able to use this method without weight concerns.
Downsides to Free Feeding Dogs
Free feeding involves always having food available for your dog. Some pet parents who free feed their dogs give their dog’s full daily ration for the day, while others make sure the bowl is never empty and keep adding food anytime it looks low.
A dog who is prone to guarding their food all the time may experience continuing stress since they may believe they need to be "on guard" all the time to safeguard their food stock. Additionally, according to PetMD, free feeding is the wrong choice for most dogs because this:
- Adds up to the risks of your furbaby becoming overweight
- Can create a binge-eating pattern
- Makes it hard to identify loss of appetite in dogs where most of the time this serves as the most common sign there is something wrong with your furbaby
- Is not the most sanitary choice; free-lying food will invite bacteria, insects, and rodents
2. Portion Each Meal
Use the portion control strategy if your furbaby is one who would never stop eating. Ask your veterinarian what weight is ideal for your dog first. If you are feeding your dog commercial dog food, feed it in accordance with the recommended serving size shown on the packaging or the amount discussed with your vet. There are situations when the recommended serving is excessive for your dog. Your veterinarian can determine the precise serving for your furbaby.
How many times should a dog eat a day when being fed set portions? It is ideal to feed your dog twice or three times daily depending on your routine. In this case, divide the recommended serving size listed on the package to avoid giving your furbaby more food than they need. It is a good idea to use Forager™ Mat for meals to help prevent chocking, bloat, and promote better digestion. You can place the full portioned meal inside this snuffle mat for dogs to help them create a better pace and feel full longer.
3. Time Your Dog’s Meals
Use the timed feeding method if you do not want to leave the food out all day and not concerned about your dog overeating. This implies that you give your dog a fixed period of time to eat, say 30 minutes. Keep away anything that has been left over after the allotted time has passed. Your dog will be hungry and ready to eat when you provide food again 8 to 12 hours later. This method is commonly used with training puppies for a schedule.
Your dog's diet serving and frequency may change if:
- Your dog is very active.
- Your dog gets pregnant or starts nursing. Your dog's breed and the size of her litter will determine how much and how frequently you should feed her while she is nursing. She will require a lot of energy if she is caring for a litter with more than four puppies. Momma dog should eat three meals every day instead of two during the first three weeks of nursing. Increase to four meals per day by week four (when her milk production is at its peak).
- The weather is very hot or cold. For dogs living in colder regions, you may have to feed them three to four times a day as they require more calories to replace body heat lost through shivering.
- Your dog is recovering from surgery or an infection.
How many times a day should a dog eat? The general advice is 2-3 times per day for a healthy adult dog. Keep in mind that situations like pregnancy, sickness, or age may change this schedule. Consult your vet with concerns about your dog’s diet. And don’t forget to promote healthy eating by using a Forager™ Mat for meal times.
"Using Forager™ Mats for meals to help prevent chocking, bloat, and promote better digestion."
- Featured Products