Whether you’re a new dog parent (congratulations!) or a seasoned one, what and when to feed your dog is an important decision.
What do you feed them? How often do you feed them? How often should you feed a puppy? Do you set mealtimes or let them graze? Will they self-regulate their intake or should meals be managed?
And do you give in to those puppy eyes outside of mealtimes?
These are all questions we hear a lot from new dog owners, so in our latest blog, we’re going to outline the pros and cons of each way to feed your dog.
We’ll also make recommendations on what and how much to feed them.
How often to feed a puppy
Before we get into the types of feeding you can use, let’s quickly cover how often you’ll need to use your chosen feeding method.
First, how often should you feed a puppy?
These excitable bundles of joy should ideally eat little and often. This will provide a steady supply of energy and nutrition to help them grow and develop.
We recommend feeding your puppy 3–4 times per day to keep things manageable while delivering the nutrition they need.
How often to feed an adult dog
Wondering how often you should feed an adult dog? Once your four-legged friend is a year old (depending on the breed), you can switch them to eating twice per day.
Regular mealtimes – once in the morning and once at dinnertime – is recognised as the best way of feeding dogs, whatever those big brown eyes may tell you!
Smaller breeds may have different needs.
Smaller puppies may require up to six meals a day. Smaller adult breeds have faster metabolisms, so may be better off with three smaller meals per day rather than two.
Methods of feeding dogs
There are three main methods of feeding dogs: free feeding, mealtimes and a mixture of the two. They all have pros and cons, so let’s take a look at each of them.
Free feeding is where you leave dry food out all day long, so your pup has complete freedom to graze whenever they like.
Pros of free feeding:
- Simple – This is the easiest way of feeding dogs. Clean their bowl, add their daily allowance of kibble or other dry food, make sure there is water around and leave them to it.
- Gives your dog freedom – While many dogs are content to let us manage their day for them, not all are. If your dog prefers doing their own thing, free feeding works. (All the doggies who independent, throw your paws up at me…)
- Doesn’t smell – Dry food has very little odour, certainly less than wet food. If you prefer a nice-smelling home, this can work out well.
Cons of free feeding:
- Dog’s rarely control their intake – Dogs are natural scavengers and will eat whenever there is food, just in case they won’t eat for a while. Despite being domesticated, this part of their natural instinct remains, which can cause health and weight issues if left unchecked.
- Won’t always work for multiple dogs – Free feeding a single dog can work, but if you have more than one, it might cause issues. Dogs will happily indulge in each other’s dinner, so unless you use a microchip dog feeder to help maintain order, one dog can get more food than another.
Meal feeding is having set breakfast and dinner times where you can serve them wet or dry food.
Pros of meal feeding:
- Control calorie intake – If your loyal companion will eat anything, monitored mealtimes is the best way to prevent them gaining weight. If you cannot monitor, an automatic dog feeder can deliver set amounts of fresh food on a timer.
- Avoids smell and spoiling – Leave wet food (and some dry foods) out for any length of time and you’ll soon notice an odour or flies. The food can also spoil on warmer days, which is a waste. Automatic pet feeders from Closer Pets are designed to include an ice pack, which will help to keep food cool and fresh throughout the day.
- Monitored mealtimes – If you have multiple dogs, a set meal time where you can watch them eat can help prevent raiding. If you can don’t have a microchip dog feeder, this is the next best way to stop one dog from eating the others’ dinner.
Cons of meal feeding:
- More work – Having set mealtimes means more work for you to serve everything up or set up the automatic pet feeder for the day.
- Not always suitable for puppies – If you’re around all day and can feed your puppy often enough, it can work. Otherwise, you’ll need an automatic feeder capable of multiple small meals during the day.
Combination feeding is a mixture of free feeding and mealtimes. Usually as a combination of dry food for grazing and wet food at mealtimes.
It can be any combination you like, though.
The pros and cons of this method are the same as above, with added freedom for your four-legged friend and added responsibility for you.
More available food means more potential for overeating. This means you’ll need to monitor mealtimes closely, as well as their weight.
If you monitor your doggo closely, keep them active and make sure that multiple dogs don’t raid each other’s dinner, combination feeding can work well.
Feeding dogs to keep them healthy and happy
Proper nutrition is a key part of giving man’s best friend the healthiest, most fun-filled life.
Puppies will need a lot of energy and nutrition to grow and fuel them throughout the day. Adult dogs will have more modest needs that can be met in different ways.
Choose the feeding method that works best for you and your dog, and don’t be afraid to use technology to help.
You can use the new MiBowl® Automatic Microchip Pet Feeder from Closer Pets if you have a puppy or a small dog. This award-winning concept helps control portion sizes and provides the perfect solution for owners with multiple pets where one steals another’s food, pets who require weight management or those with special dietary needs.
So, get experimenting with each feeding method and see what works best for you. Don’t worry, if your dog disagrees, they will soon let you know!