Almost everyone lives their life by a schedule. A routine. You set your alarm to wake up at a certain time. You eat lunch at a certain time. You return home from work at a certain time. There can be something comforting about having a schedule. Routines are important for pets, too. Having a regular schedule helps them feel secure. Dogs don't need a watch. They seem to have an internal clock. Is your dog waiting at the door for you to come home every day? How does he know that you are just about to walk through the door? Most dogs seem to have a natural sense of time. Setting up a feeding schedule for them just makes sense.
Why Is a Feeding Schedule Important for Your Dog?
- If your puppy eats on schedule he will also pee and poop on a schedule! This will make housebreaking a lot easier!
- You'll know pretty quickly if he isn't feeling well. Usually, one of the first things that you will notice when your dog is sick is that he has stopped eating.
- There is evidence that using a feeding schedule helps prevent obesity.
How Much & How Often Should Your Dog Eat?
Your veterinarian can help you calculate how much food your dog should eat each day. Not planning a trip to your veterinary office anytime soon? You can start by feeding your dog according to the package directions. But, remember that you may need to make adjustments. By measuring out the food, you can be sure that your dog is not overeating. Some people feed "free-choice". They refill the bowl whenever it is empty. But, they may never know exactly how much their dog is eating. Obesity can contribute to health problems. Orthopedic problems, diabetes, skin issues, respiratory problems and certain types of cancer have all been linked to obesity.
How many times a day should you feed your dog? Well, that depends. A normal adult dog could eat once or twice a day. Twice a day may be better. Since the total amount of food is split, the volume is smaller at each meal. This may help your dog digest his food better. Feeding twice a day may also help to control his hunger. A puppy should eat more often. Check with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
How Do I Set a Feeding Schedule?
So how do you go about making up a feeding schedule for your dog? Much will depend on your own schedule. Here is an example. Of course, you can change the times to better suit your own hectic life.
- 7:00 am - morning walk
- 8:00 am - breakfast
- 5:00 pm - afternoon walk
- 6:00 pm - dinner
- 9:00 pm - evening walk before bedtime
You will want to teach your dog to eat his food immediately. Place the bowl of food in front of him. Leave the food bowl down for 15 to 20 minutes.
What if there is food in the bowl after 20 minutes? Remove the bowl anyway. Don't worry. Your dog will get another chance to eat later in the day. He will soon learn that he has to eat everything at once. Some dogs self-regulate and will only eat as much as they want. He should always have fresh water too.
Having a set schedule for mealtimes and exercise can benefit both you and your dog. It can keep your dog trim, alert you to any medical problems, and give you both a sense of well-being!