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How to Set a Feeding Schedule for Dog?

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There is one thing that all dogs have in common, and that is they all need to be fed. It doesn’t matter if your dog is famous like Rin Tin Tin, Toto, Nemo, Jofi, Lex, Lassie, Sinbad, or Balto, when it comes to mealtime, all dogs will benefit from a routine. If you are wondering how often and how much should I feed my dog, then this article is for you. Let’s take a look at how to set a feeding schedule for dog.

How Often Should Dogs Eat?

When it comes to feeding dogs, a common question is: how many times should I feed my dog a day.

Twice a day with about 12 hours between feedings.

This gives the dog time to digest and absorb nutrients before the next feeding. Waiting longer than 12 hours between feedings may cause nausea in a dog much the same way it can in humans.

There are exceptions to this rule such as if your dog is a performance athlete or working dog. For example, a sled dog may need to eat every couple of hours on the trail. But for the most part, most dogs do very well being fed twice a day.

A dog with his food bowl in his mouth

How Much Should Dogs Eat?

How much should dogs eat greatly depends on the dog’s breed, size, age, and activity level. For example, a Chihuahua is going to need less food than a Great Dane, in much the same way that an older inactive dog will need less than a playful adolescent.

Most dog food companies will give a chart on their product explaining how much to feed your dog. If you make your own dog food, keep notes and adjust if your dog is gaining or losing weight. Always keep in mind that each dog is different and each lifestyle is unique, so make sure to judge and modify how much your dog needs to eat by their body score.

How to Set a Feeding Schedule for Dogs?

When setting a feeding schedule for your dog, routine is going to be very important. Let’s take a look at some key factors to setting a feeding schedule that will benefit your dog and also be easy for you to follow.

A dog being served food

Feed Your Dog At The Same Time Each Day

Most dogs do well eating in the morning and evening. You can adjust your dog’s breakfast to fit your and your dog’s schedule. For example, if you live on a farm with morning chores, breakfast may come naturally after some brief morning work. Or if you like to run or walk your dog at sunup, breakfast may fit in it well when you both are finished and hungry.

Keep a routine.

Your dog’s system will anticipate and expect food when you keep on a schedule. Plus a routine makes life flow that much easier.

Feed Your Dog at the Same Place Each Day

By feeding your dog in the same place each day, you are encouraging confidence and calmness in your dog. You will most likely find that your dog finds his or her meal place without you even suggesting they get there. Think of your eating routines. Many humans like their breakfast or dinner in the same places too.

If you are the dog parent to more than one dog, each dog having a place for feeding time will help to cut down on food aggression. Therefore, each dog getting in his or her place should be encouraged and rewarded.

A group of puppies eating together

Limit Your Dog’s Feeding Time

It’s good to limit your dog’s feeding time to about 15 to 20 minutes.

By doing this you are encouraging your dog to eat on the schedule you determine. Most dogs will finish eating in about 5 minutes, but make sure to allow your dog plenty of time to eat without gulping their food down. When the food is gone remove the bowl.

Give Your Dog Space While They Eat

Let your dog have his or her own space to eat. By doing so, your dog can relax and eat at his or her own pace without distractions. Mealtime should be an enjoyable time, not a time of stress for your dog.

A beagle eating his food

The Typical Feeding Schedule

A typical feeding schedule may look something like this: 6 AM meal and 6 PM meal. Of course, vary this schedule to fit your own schedule that might be determined by your job or other daily activities. The biggest importance is to keep to a fairly on-track schedule.

FREE Pet Meal Planner Printable

I don’t know about you, but I like when routines flow freely without me having to think and plan constantly. For feeding your dog, a pet meal planner pdf will help to take the daily guesswork out of feeding time by keeping you and your pet on a schedule. A dog food calendar printable can be especially useful if you make your own dog food. That way you can plan out a variety of meals and plan ahead.

Here’s a free Dog Feeding Schedule Template that you can start to use today.

Download “Pet Meal Planner Printable” pet-meal-planner.pdf – Downloaded 70 times – 2 MB

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve covered the basics about how to set a feeding schedule for your dog. But you may still have some questions. Here are some frequently asked questions that dog owners often ask.

What is a Good Time to Feed Dogs?

Most dogs do well with feeding once in the morning and once in the evening. Think of it as a breakfast and dinner for dogs.

Is It Important to Feed Dogs on a Schedule?

Yes, feeding dogs on a schedule keeps their digestive systems healthy and allows them to absorb nutrients fully. Feeding on a schedule also helps dogs to not be overfed quite as easily as if they are randomly fed throughout the day.

A pug being fed a treat

Is it Okay to Give Treats to Dogs Between Meals?

Yes, treats are great for rewarding dogs for good behavior. Also, a treat now and then can be enjoyed just like humans they like treats. Make sure to limit the number of treats so that your dog does not become overweight. Also, make sure to provide treats that are healthy for dogs. You can even give your dog food like eggs or cheese as treats!

Is it Ever Okay to Feed My Dogs More than Twice a Day?

Absolutely. On a day when your dog has had a considerable increase in activity, you may want to add in a meal or healthy snacks that are not a part of their normal schedule. Think of it this way, if you were running a marathon or doing a lot of extra hiking on a weekend, you may need extra calories that day. 

A dog eating his food

What Time Should I Feed My Dog at Night?

It’s not so much important what time to feed your dog at night, as it is to keep on a daily nightly feeding schedule. With that being said, it’s best to feed your dog at least an hour before their bedtime. That way he or she has time to use the bathroom before settling in for the night.

Can a Dog Eating Schedule Be Changed?

Yes, your dog’s eating schedule can be changed without adverse effects on your dog.

Let’s face it. Life has a way of changing schedules for us. To make the transition easier on your dog, do it gradually until you reached the meal times you’d like. There really is no best time to feed your dog, just make sure meals are spaced out and on a schedule and about 12 hours or so apart.

A woman feeding her dog

Conclusion

I hope that this article helps you and your dog to get on a feeding schedule for your dog to stay healthy and helps you both to keep mealtimes stress-free. Just remember the key factors and those are: Set and follow a meal schedule, serve meals in the same place, and limit feeding times. By following these tips, mealtimes can be enjoyed to the fullest by you and your dog.

Mariann Foster
Mariann enjoys operating Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming with her daughter and 7 large livestock guardian dogs. She especially enjoys running, playing and being with her dogs outdoors.

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