How often should you feed a dog? If you asked your dog that question, her answer would probably be: As much as possible, please! But that, obviously, wouldn’t be a good idea.
Exactly how often dogs should eat has been a topic of discussion—and argument—for many dog owners. Another question dog owners may find themselves asking is: How much should a dog eat?
Read on for some basic feeding guidelines.
How Often Should You Feed a Dog?
Where does a dog parent start when figuring out how often to feed their dog? The short answer is, it depends. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, doctor of veterinary medicine, there are a lot of factors that contribute to how much and how often you should feed a dog.
“Determining the correct size for meals depends on the types of dog food used, how many times a day your dog eats, his or her size, metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more,” Dr. Coates says.
When deciding how much a dog should eat, Dr. Coates recommends that you refer to the feeding chart on your dog food’s label as a general guide. Typically, this chart will start at a weight of 5 pounds and go up to 100 pounds. For every 15-20 pounds, the suggested feeding amount goes up by about a half cup to 1 cup. It’s advised that you split this amount into feedings about 8-12 hours apart. (Note: The frequency could vary for certain dog breeds; puppies should be fed about three times per day).
“Combine this information with your knowledge of your dog’s lifestyle to come up with the initial amount of food you are going to offer your dog,” Dr. Coates says. “If I had a relatively inactive 35-pound Corgi who had a tendency to gain weight, I might start with 2 cups of food per day. On the other hand, if my dog was a hyper 35-pound Border Collie, I would feed a little more.”
Starting a Dog Feeding Schedule
Once you have an idea of how often your dog should eat, you can get down to a proper dog feeding schedule. Since dogs enjoy routine, it’s important to keep track of the times you feed your dog and become diligent about keeping the same feeding times.
Some pet parents opt for the free-feeding approach, leaving an entire day’s worth of dog food out for their fur babies. Dr. Coates thinks this approach may not work 100 percent of the time.
“For dogs who have accidents in the house, or who fluctuate in weight, a stricter dog feeding schedule may be ideal,” she says.
Possibly the best way of managing your dog’s meals is to use an automated pet feeder. The bonus is that if you’re a busy pet parent who often gets home late, you can relax knowing that your dog will be fed on time.
What Are The Best Automatic Pet Feeders?
Not sure where to start when looking for an automatic pet feeder? The PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Timed Pet Feeder is a good option. It can hold up to five meals of dog food, dispensing them like clockwork at your pre-set time. For smaller dogs, the Cat Mate C20 2-Bowl Automatic Pet Feeder is a good option. It can be programmed to automatically spring open at feeding times, and has a blue-ice pack for keeping wet food cold for up to 48 hours.
For dogs who love to scarf down their food, the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Programmable Pet Feeder has a slow release function, which dispense each meal over a 15-minute period. And it allows you to feed up to 12 meals per day. Speaking of special features, the Arf Pets Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder, 4-Meal has a fun one: This feeder allows you to record a message alerting your fur baby when it is time to eat!
As convenient and clever as pet feeders are, some pet parents may prefer to keep them only as a backup. The ritual of hand feeding your dog may bring you a lot of enjoyment and allow you to bond with her. If you are more about the old-fashioned way, use a pet food scoop that measures kibble, like the OurPets metal scoop. This allows you to see how much you’re serving up.
Knowing how much and how often to feed your dog is one of the most important parts of caring for her. Striking the balance between too much and not enough can take some time. Once you have the formula down, be sure to stick with it! A healthy pup is a happy pup.