Feeding dogs has become complicated. What kind of food should I feed my dog? How many times a day should I feed my dog? Once you determine the best food for your dog, you should take a look at your dog’s nutritional needs and eating style to decide how many times you should feed your dog. There are 3 main options:
(Feeding method pictured not recommended)
This is when you leave food down at all times. Your dog decides how much and how often he’ll eat. You can use automatic dog feeders to leave plenty of food down for your dog. The benefit is you'll have no worries about a feeding schedule. The drawback is that some dogs tend to overeat and become overweight easier (Labs, for example, are known to eat anything that’s in front of them). If your dog is a big eater or needs weight control, free-feeding is not for your dog. If your dog controls his own feeding, using an automatic feeder will be easier on you than constantly refilling a bowl and will provide your dog food whenever he’s hungry.
Once a day
This gives your dog all his food at once. The upside to this option is that you only have to worry about feeding once a day and you can still control how much your dog eats. The downside is that your dog may get hungry and by the time he gets his daily meal, is likely to chow it down at an unsafe speed. Eating too fast can lead to bloat, a dangerous stomach illness. This approach is not recommended as it has some risks and no benefits for your dog.
Twice or more a day
This spreads out your dog’s daily food amount over a few meals. Like with us people, it can be more satisfying to a dog to have smaller, more frequent meals. They’re also less likely to scarf down their food too fast. For these reasons, many vets and trainers advocate feeding multiple meals a day. The most common is 2 meals for adults and 2-4 for puppies. If it’s difficult to work this into your schedule, or if you prefer your dog stays on a strict feeding schedule, timed dog feeders are very useful. You decide how much food it dispenses and what time of day it dispenses it. This provides a very regular feeding schedule without requiring you to handle every meal.
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If your dog can keep from overeating on his own, free-feeding may be a good option for you and your dog. Otherwise, multiple meals a day keep your dog from getting too hungry or overstuffing himself.
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Photo credit: klynslis