When you welcome a new dog into your family, you need to establish a feeding schedule that works for you and for them. Here are some tips to help you nail it down.
There are a lot of things you’ll need to have in place before getting a dog. You’ll need to take them to the vet, make sure you have access to large areas where your dog can play and get exercise, and you’ll need to know which food is healthiest for your dog.
One thing many dog parents forget to think about before bringing their new dog home is what kind of feeding schedule their dog should be on. How much and how often your dog eats is an important aspect of their health.
In addition to this, dogs thrive on routine. So, having a set schedule in place will actually help your dog acclimate to all the other changes they’re experiencing. What kind of dog feeding schedule works? The answer depends on a few factors.
Basic Feeding Schedule Guidelines
The general rule of thumb when it comes to feeding schedules for dogs is to feed them twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. The time between feedings should be approximately eight to 12 hours apart -- think breakfast and dinner.
This dog feeding schedule is recommended by most pup experts and veterinarians, but, as you well know, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dogs, especially when it comes to their age, breed, physical exercise, and lifestyle habits.
There are some reasons you may need to increase or decrease the amount of food your dog is eating or how often your dog is eating.
When You May Need To Increase Feedings
The dogs who need two meals a day have an average size, weight, and activity level. However, if your dog is a larger breed who needs a higher amount of calories per day or if they’re a working or hunting dog with almost all-day activity, you may want to consider increasing their feedings.
In addition to this, you may need to increase your dog’s feeding schedule if you have a puppy. Puppies eat similarly to babies, but instead of eating every two or three hours, your puppy will probably eat every 3 to 4 hours, and in much smaller portions than what they will eat as an adult.
In total, puppies need to eat around four times a day until they’re three months old. Once they’re three months old, they can eat three meals a day, then at 6 months old, they can start eating twice a day like most adult dogs. This feeding schedule will continue to be their routine throughout adulthood.
It’s important to note that the caloric intake of your dog depends primarily on their weight and activity level. How many calories they eat per day should typically remain the same unless your dog isn’t at a healthy weight and a veterinarian recommends they be put on a diet.
Eating all of their food at one time or too fast can cause gastrointestinal issues, nausea, indigestion, vomiting, bloating, gas and discomfort — the takeaway, however, is that it’s the speed that they’re eating that’s causing issues versus the time of day or amount they’re eating. Adding a meal to their feeding schedule can help spread out the amount of food they eat throughout the day and prevent stomach problems.
Before increasing the amount of food or the amount of times you feed your dog, talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s weight and activity levels. They will help you determine if your dog is at a healthy weight, and if their caloric intake should be increased or decreased.
When You May Need To Decrease Feedings
There are also times you may need to decrease your dog’s feedings. If your dog’s activity levels are decreased due to age, weather, or any other factor, you may need to give your dog less food to help them maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity in dogs is linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, respiratory issues, and pain and discomfort for your pup. Preventing obesity and maintaining a healthy weight are two of the best ways you can keep your dog healthy!
You may need to cut down the amount of food your dog is eating if they are already overweight. To find out if your dog is overweight, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll be able to pinpoint weight gain, possible hidden health conditions, and the best feeding changes to get them back to a healthy size.
It’s important to talk to your veterinarian before making any major feeding changes to your dog’s schedule. This will prevent accidental overfeeding or underfeeding.
To learn more about how age and weight affect how much your dog should eat, check out our guide on how much you should be feeding your dog.
Why is a Feeding Schedule Important?
After reading the feeding schedule recommendations for most dogs, you may be wondering why a dog feeding schedule matters in the first place.
Firstly, dogs love routine! Having a consistent feeding routine is proven to reduce anxiety in dogs, increase success while training, and prevent meal-based weight gain.
A feeding schedule can also be an excellent resource for maintaining your dog’s weight. Free feeding is when food is left in the dog bowl all day instead of feeding them at a specific time. If you use a free feeding method for your dog, there are a few risks to be aware of.
Free feeding can make it difficult to keep track of how much food your dog is eating, and can lead to overeating or undereating if multiple dogs are eating from the same dish or if your dog continues to eat even when they are full.
What Kind of Food Should My Dog Eat?
Dog feeding schedules are one of the keys to your dog’s nutrition, but what kind of food your dog eats is also a vital part.
While you may think dog food is a healthy option for your loyal canine, it may not be disclosing all of its nutrition information. Here are some important qualities to look for in healthy dog food so you can keep your dog healthy and their tail wagging!
Look for Human Grade
When it comes to standards, the dog food industry is known for cutting corners and compromising on freshness. Even foods labeled as natural are allowed to undergo processing through extreme temperatures that kill nutrients.
In addition, many dog food brands include filler ingredients, by-products from meat, artificial preservatives, and much more. These are certainly not something you want for your dog, so try to look for human-grade food instead.
Human-grade food is dog food made while following FDA standards for human food. Even the regulations on pup food aren’t very strict or very well regulated, so trusting these foods to provide what they claim to isn’t our first thought.
Human-grade food, on the other hand, is made with the standards you choose for your own food. Our dog food is human-grade, air-dried, and all-natural so your dog can enjoy every treat-like bite while getting a heap of nutrients.
Look for Real Meat
It’s also important to look at the meat ingredient listed on dog food. Some brands include meat by-products that aren’t good for your dog.
For instance, if you see “meat meal” or “chicken meal” this means there may be leftovers from the animal in the meat ingredient. The feet, beak, talons, feathers, skin, eyes, and more can be included in this ingredient.
Some meat by-products are beneficial to dogs, like organs, but these are certainly an ingredient you’d want to see listen on the back of your dog food bag, not heaped in with meat leftovers.
Instead, look for specific meat names, like USDA beef, beef heart, or beef liver. These meats are free of extras and by-products while being rich in nutrients and protein!
Fruits and Veggies Matter, Too!
Many people think dogs should eat a diet of just meat because it reminds them of what wolves or wild dogs would eat. However, these animals need just as many fruits and vegetables in their diet to maintain health too.
When looking for dog food, try to avoid ones that only contain meat or wheat and lack fruits and vegetables. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and oranges contain essential amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. Vegetables like carrots, beets, leafy greens, and pumpkins are also rich sources of nutrients for your dog.
Knowing when to feed your dog is important to their nutrition and making sure they have the routine they need. Knowing what food they should eat is even more important, but look no further than Sundays for Dogs.
Formualted by pup parent vets, Sundays Food for Dogs is rich in all the nutrients your own pup needs, without any of the bad stuff, guaranteed.
Spend more time playing fetch and less time worrying about what food they’ll eat to replenish themselves after that long play session.
Learn more about how you can get your pup started on a Sundays meal plan today.
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