Choosing how to feed your dog isn’t a walk in the park! It always seemed to me that dogs are fed according to the owners schedule. Why do humans eat three times a day while dogs only eat twice. Well duh, usually the owner isn’t home during the day so Fido goes with out. And it always seemed counter intuitive. Usually the smaller the creature the more small meals per day they should eat. And now, more nutritionists recommend eating less.
But like most things, when it comes to calculating how much to feed each day, many factors must be taken into consideration, and these can include:
· Baseline metabolic rate
· Stage of growth
· Level of activity
· The type of food
Once you’ve decided on the optimum diet for your dog’s nutritional needs, the difficulty doesn’t stop there! You also have to figure out how often to feed him each day.
Once A Day Or The Free-Feed Buffet?
One daily meal: Some owners feed their dog one daily meal, for some dogs this may result in blood sugar levels swinging quite low for much of the day. This can then lead to extreme hunger when feeding time rolls around, and the dog may end up eating too much and too fast. This can also be a particular problem for larger or giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes for instance, that have an increased susceptibility to gastric dilatation (“bloat”). This potentially fatal condition is impacted by many different factors, and feeding frequency is one of them. Multiple, smaller meals each day are better for these dogs than a single, large meal.
Two daily meals: Due to work schedules, many owners feed their dog twice daily, and most dogs do just fine with this regime. This seems to be the most commonly used feeding schedule for dogs, and typically involves a meal at breakfast time before the owner leaves for work, and a meal at dinnertime.
Multiple daily meals: This option is optimum for any dog, but in particular for small breed puppies and toy breed dogs. Small meals 3-4 times daily will prevent large fluctuations in blood sugar levels. If your work schedule makes it difficult to achieve, try using an automatic feeder to dispense a few meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
Free-Feeding: This method involves free access to food at all times. Although technically it allows your dog to eat whenever his body needs fuel, many dogs don’t do well at self-regulating their calorie intake (unlike cats). As a result, many dogs overeat and gain too much weight. So this method of feeding is best employed if your dog has some self-control!
There is no “one size fits all” feeding regime for all dogs, but as a general guide, the smaller and younger the dog, the more meals he should have each day. And although personal preferences and schedules will inevitably affect our dog’s feeding regime, it’s good to remember that our four-legged friends are not so different from us when it comes to their feeding needs. Smaller meals given more frequently will help to stabilize your dog’s energy levels, leaving him more satisfied throughout the day and ready for action when you come home and show him the leash!
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