When you’re hungry, you can grab a quick snack or fix yourself a nice meal, but your dog depends on you for food and nourishment. And since canines can’t talk, you may find yourself wondering when your dog actually needs to eat. We asked dog lovers and veterinary experts to share their advice on this issue. Here’s what they had to say.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles, short stories, and books, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.

The best time of day to feed a dog depends on the individual dog’s age, lifestyle, and other factors.

For most healthy, adult dogs, twice a day feeding is appropriate. Feed the first meal in the morning, but not as soon as you get out of bed. Some dogs will start waking their “feeders” up earlier and earlier if they get used to eating immediately after waking. Try not to offer the evening meal right before bedtime. Give your dog at least a few hours to digest before sleeping so they have the opportunity to urinate and defecate after absorbing the bulk of their meal.

For dogs that beg, a good strategy is to time their meals to coincide with your own. Put your dog in a crate or separate room while you both eat.

Very young puppies, pregnant or lactating females, and extreme canine athletes often need to eat more frequent meals to ensure that they get all the energy and nutrients they need throughout the day. If your dog has a health problem, your veterinarian can also recommend the best options for meal timing.

The best time of day to feed a dog depends on your lifestyle and your dog. Small dogs and puppies should be fed twice a day while larger dogs and adult dogs can be fed once a day. If you are feeding just once a day, many people find it much easier to feed them dinner at the same time they eat.

Many people will get off of work, come home, feed the dog, then make their dinner. I feed my dog at 6 pm every day. Her feeding time is right after I get home. My dog has become so accustomed to this routine that on the weekends, she will usually come to find me around 6 pm and start barking at me, letting me know it is time for her to eat.

Sara Ochoa, DVM

Sara Ochoa, DVM

Veterinary Consultant for Doglab.com

Sara Ochoa is a practicing veterinarian in a small animal hospital. With years of experience in the field, she is a treasure trove of knowledge on all things animal related.

Ben Team

Ben Team

Dog Dad & Content Editor

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben has had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs.

Most adult dogs should be fed twice per day – once in the morning and again in the evening.

This will not only help keep your dog feeling satisfied and full for most of the day, but it can also help prevent health problems, such as bilious vomiting syndrome.

Additionally, ravenous dogs often wolf down their food in a flash, which may be a contributing factor for bloat – a potentially fatal condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air.

Puppies, on the other hand, should be fed three to four times per day. This will help account for their tiny stomachs and the fact that they burn calories quickly just keeping their bodies warm.

When feeding your dog two times per day, it’s important to wait at least six hours between meals to give your dog enough time to digest the food. For example, feed your dog his first meal in the morning right before work and again in the evening. If you feed your dog once a day, you may prefer to do it in the morning to avoid accidents or going out in the middle of the night.

That said, never walk your dog on a full stomach or feed him immediately after a walk or exercise, as this can lead to bloating or twisted stomach (especially in large breeds). Instead, walk your dog before meals and wait about 30 minutes afterward to feed him.

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran Bukovza is the founder of a dog training and behavior advice website called Puppy Tip.

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