One of the easiest ways to keep your dog trim and healthy is to feed him on a schedule. When you set regular meal times you make sure your dog gets the proper amount of nutrition each day. And, if you have kids, it’s an easy way to assign them some regular responsibility in caring for the family pet.
Why feed on a schedule
A feeding schedule offers several benefits in addition to providing a solid routine for your dog.
Helps when housebreaking a puppy or dog
It’s important to schedule everything when house training your puppy, especially when he eats and drinks. When you know what time something went into your dog, you can predict how long it will be before it needs to come back out. That’s helpful information you can use to keep your pet accident-free.
Helps fight obesity
If you free-feed your dog, there’s a greater chance that he’ll become obese. Excess weight, especially in older dogs, can lead to a host of health problems. When you follow a feeding schedule you can control how much your dog eats and ensure he gets the right amount of nutrition.
Helps with obedience training
You can work your obedience training sessions around your dog’s feeding schedule so you know when he’s hungry to train. You can also use pieces of kibble from his regular meals as rewards rather than calorie-loaded treats. If your dog always has food around, he may not be as motivated by his daily kibble.
Helps you keep track of your dog’s health
By feeding your dog a set amount of food at scheduled meals you can tell if he loses his appetite or stops eating, which is often the first sign of an illness. A meal schedule can also help you time your dog’s medications.
How many times a day to feed your dog
A puppy should be fed three meals each day. Give him access to the food for 20 to 30 minutes at each meal, then pick up the dish until the next meal. It may take a few days to gauge how much your puppy can eat at a sitting.
When your dog is twelve to fifteen months old and has switched to adult dog food, you can feed him twice each day. Remember to take away the bowl after each meal.
How much to feed a dog at meals
A recent dog nutrition study by researchers at Purina showed that controlling your dog’s calorie intake to maintain a lean body condition can increase his life expectancy by nearly two years. Characteristics of a dog with the proper body condition are:
- barely visible ribs under his coat
- when you feel his ribs there’s no excess fat over them
- when you look at your dog from above his waist comes in behind his ribs
- when you look at him from the side his belly is tucked in
It’ll take some time to find the amount you need to feed your dog in order to maintain his ideal body condition. Make sure you give him enough food to be satisfied but not so much that he leaves some in the bowl when the meal is over. You should consult your veterinarian for specific feeding schedules and amounts for your particular dog.