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How Often Should I Feed My Dog – Dog Feeding Schedule

One of the most common questions we receive from our clients concerns feeding. From how much to feed, what type of food to feed and what time(s) of day to feed, the options in today’s pet food market can perplex even the most educated pet owner. Not only do food-intake needs of each pet vary, but they change throughout his/her life. Read on for a general overview of our recommendations for keeping your pet at his/her optimal health through offering a well-balanced and healthy feeding routine.

 

pet water and food bowl

Source: Thinkstock

 

Frequency of feedings

Puppies and kittens should be fed 4-6 times a day. This should gradually decrease by the time the pet reaches 50 percent of his/her adult body weight. At this stage, pets should be fed three meals per day. Dogs that burn extra calories, such as working or exceedingly active dogs, should be fed more frequently to satisfy their added energy requirements.

Smaller, more frequent feedings might be suitable for pets with health problems that decrease their appetite.

 

Feeding methods

Because over-consumption of food is a leading cause of pet obesity, Banfield does not recommend all-day access to food. Instead, implement portion-control feeding, in which food is measured using a standard cooking cup to weigh the amount of food your veterinarian recommends for your pet’s daily intake. Feed your pet at the same times each day to regulate the digestive system and avoid accidents.

Typically, dogs prefer an element of privacy when they are eating. Put down the bowl of food and walk away. Leave the bowl down for 5-10 minutes (if your dog is a slow eater, this period can be extended to twenty minutes, but only if he is still eating during that time and hasn’t gone off in search of other entertainment), and then pick it up, regardless of whether your dog has eaten or not. While most dogs will dig in the moment you place the bowl on the floor, you may find that your adopted dog is a finicky eater, at least at first. After all, he’s been thrust into a new home with new people, and he may be too nervous to eat. If this is the case, you will need to teach him to eat on a schedule. Put the bowl back down at the next scheduled feeding, for 5-10 minutes. Your dog will learn to eat when you put the bowl down, and not to linger and nibble throughout the day.

Another benefit of set feedings is that a dog who eats on a schedule poops on a schedule. In addition, if you live in an urban area, leaving a bowl of kibble on the ground all day can attract unwanted house guests, like cockroaches and mice. It is to everyone’s advantage to keep feeding times regular.

Having regularly scheduled feeding times not only establishes a routine, it also allows you to monitor your dog’s health. Remember that sometimes the only way to recognize that your dog is ill is a lack of appetite. If your dog has his food down all day and usually just picks at it, it may be two or three days before you notice that he hasn’t eaten; whereas the dog that gobbles his meals as soon as you put the bowl down would be easy to recognize when he is ill.

Adult cats prefer as many as 8-16 small meals per day. This can be regulated using a timed feeder that opens to release a small meal.

 

Providing enough water

Pets should have access to clean, fresh water at all times. If you are concerned that your pet is not consuming enough water, feeding canned food helps encourage water consumption. Cats typically prefer to drink at night because they are nocturnal in nature. Because cats are very sensitive to getting their whiskers wet, use a bowl with a wide surface area.

 

Providing snacks and treats

Treats can be an important tool for training your pet’s behavior as well as bonding with your pet. It’s important to remember that treats should only be used as a reward—not as a supplement to food or for any other reason. Unless recommended by your veterinarian for your pet’s specific situation, your pet’s physical health does not require the use of treats or supplements to stay healthy.

If you decide to feed your pet treats as a training tool, ensure that it is specifically designed for a dog or cat. Do not feed your pet human foods as treats or supplements, since this can cause a wide range of health problems from gastrointestinal upset to more serious problems. Low-calorie treats are more desirable because they will be less likely to contribute to weight gain.
Contact your veterinarian if you have feeding questions specific to your pet.

 

How to Train Your Dog to Eat:

For the first week:

  • pour kibble into bowl
  • raise bowl over the dogs head
  • command, sit
  • place bowl on the floor and let the dog eat

For the second week:

  • pour kibble into bowl
  • hold up bowl in front of dog
  • command, sit
  • start to lower bowl to floor AS LONG as the dog is sitting
  • as soon as the dog gets up to go to the bowl, stand up and hold the bowl up in front of you again
  • repeat, sit, lowering bowl as soon as he sits
  • keep raising it back up as he gets up, each time you should be able to get it slightly lower than the previous time
  • keep at this (it’s good for the upper thighs) until you actually have the bowl on the floor, with your hands off of it AND YOUR DOG IS STILL SITTING
  • then release him with an okay and let him eat—make sure you don’t release him AS he is already getting up – take the time to make sure he is solidly sitting and staying before you release him to go eat

For the third week:

  • your dog should be able to sit and wait patiently until you release him
  • so, as he is sitting and waiting, you can label the command, stay
  • every stay has a release, okay

For the fourth week:

(this week we work on getting more distance from your dog)

  • pour kibble into bowl
  • dog should be sitting and waiting patiently by this time
  • place bowl a little further from him
  • release with an okay and let him eat
  • if your dog breaks his stay before you release him, pick up the bowl, and put your dog back in the exact spot you left him originally

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