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How often and how much should I feed my dog?

Once a day, twice a day?

How often do you recommend feeding a dog?

Some people feed once daily, others twice daily and someone told me that gundogs should be regularly starved one day each week.

As carnivorous hunters, our dogs’ ancestors have specialised digestive and gastrointestinal adaptations that allow them to ingest a large meal followed by days of not eating. The subsequent process of domestication, however, gave dogs the opportunity 
of a more plentiful food supply and 
their digestive system has adapted accordingly.

  • It is recommended that most domestic dogs are fed once or twice a day, though some small dogs actually benefit from eating equally divided meals two to three times daily.
  • At weaning, puppies should be fed three 
to four times a day. This feeding schedule should continue until four to six months of age (nine months old for giant breeds) when it should gradually change to 
a regular once or twice daily schedule.
puppies with mother

A lactating bitch needs to have her daily food divided into several small meals in order not to overload her digestion.

Pregnant and lactating bitches

During the first six weeks of pregnancy, the feeding schedule used for normal adult maintenance meets the need. However, from the sixth week until whelping, the energy requirement begins to increase, becomes even more significant during lactation and reaches a peak approximately three weeks after whelping. So daily food needs to be divided into several small meals in order not to overload the bitch’s digestive capacity.

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Dogs with diabetes, digestive problems and on diets

The daily ration for dogs with gastrointestinal disorders or diabetes and dogs on low-calorie diets should be divided into several meals. Feeding frequent small meals helps to prevent the corrosive action of gastric acid in dogs with gastritis, reduces the intestinal overload in dogs with diarrhoea and prevents undue blood glucose fluctuations in dogs with diabetes. It can also be an effective way to control hunger in overweight dogs.

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Always allow a dog to sleep off a meal

When is the best time for feeding a dog?

After a meal a dog sleeps to enable its food to be digested. The period after a feed is the quietest time in any kennels as dogs usually curl up and rest. We feed our kennel dogs twice a day with a small meal in the morning and the main meal about 4.30pm.

I am a stickler for regular feeding times whenever possible.

Many dogs, particularly Labradors, bolt their food which makes it even more important to allow them time to digest it.

Do not train your dog on a full stomach. Dogs carrying a full stomach will feel uncomfortable during training – a distraction you don’t want.