You would think that feeding your dog would be the easiest part of your responsibilities as a dog owner. Wrong again! You’ll need to make some decisions and that means you may have to do some homework.
First of all are we talking about a puppy or and adult dog? That will make a difference as to the amount of dog food required. When thinking in terms of food, puppies are typically considered adults at the age of 1 year at which time you would switch to adult food. If there’s any doubt or concern about this, or if you just want to be safe, consult your Vet. Your Vet is a fabulous resource for any questions you may have and it’s always a great idea to consult with him/her on anything concerning your precious pet.
For obvious reasons, the proper feeding of your dog is extremely important. Over feed and you put your pet at risk for obesity and serious health issues. Under feed and you end up causing a problem dog that chews on toys, books, etc. and steals food off the counter or table and is constantly into the garbage.
How often should you feed your dog?
Next decision… regular scheduled feeding or free feeding. Free feeding means that you keep food in the puppies bowl all the time and he/she eats whenever their hungry. There are different schools of thought regarding free feeding. Some Veterinarians feel this is the best option for your puppy because they’re growing quickly and may require more food one day than another. Others suggest feeding your puppy about 4 times each day.
My personal vote goes with the later. Here’s why… Free feeding your dog can be difficult if you have other pets (trying to keep the other pets away from it). Then, when your puppy becomes an adult, one short year later, you’ll need to retrain your dog to eat only once or twice each day. If you continue to free feed your dog throughout adulthood, you are setting the stage for an overweight dog and likely serious health issues.
Having said all of this, my recommendation would be to feed your puppy 4-6 times each day. They’re little and have lots of energy. They need to eat often to fuel their little bodies and mature properly. Maintain a regular time schedule for feeding, and leave the food available for 15-20 minutes. Then take it away. If your puppy is hungry he’ll eat, if not he’ll have another opportunity in a few hours. Upon adulthood reduce the feedings to 1-2 times each day.
You’ll notice that there are no absolute answers to the number of times each day to feed your dog. That’s because there are so many variables involved in determining the answer; age, size, breed, how much exercise does your dog get, is your dog underweight now or overweight, how many treats does he/she get each day. Each of these points need to be considered before deciding how often to feed your pet. I absolutely recommend that you consult with… guess who? Say it with me… your Veterinarian! He/she can help you set up the perfect schedule for your pet.
… to continue next week •