How Many Times a Day to Feed a Dog?

By Dee Parrott

How many times a day you feed your dog has many different factors, including your dog's age, breed, recommended weight and amount of exercise and treats it gets. However, you should always check with a vet to determine how many times a day (and how much) your dog should eat. Once your dog is on a regimen, it's important to keep track of its weight to be sure that you're not over- or under-feeding.

Feeding a Puppy

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According to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, a newborn puppy (three to four weeks old) should be weaned off of its mother. This means that you should begin by feeding it puppy food mixed with milk in a shallow bowl or plate and lessen the amount each time until the puppy begins eating solid food only. A puppy needs to eat about six times a day. This is because it is important for puppies to get the nutrients they need to grow and mature properly. By the time the puppy is six months old, it will only need to eat two or three times per day. It is important to feed your puppy food specially made for puppies, since it contains essential nutrients that adult food does not.

Feeding an Adult Dog

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According to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, an adult dog only needs to eat once (or twice, if your dog is a small or toy breed) per day. When your puppy turns into an adult dog, you can begin feeding it regular adult dog food. However, dogs mature at different rates, so it is important to be sure that your dog is an adult--meaning it has stopped growing--before cutting its feeding to once a day or taking it off puppy food.

On their website, Drs. Foster and Smith note that most bags of dog food give recommendations on how much to feed your dog based on weight. Drs. Foster and Smith do not recommend feeding your dog a certain number of times per day based on weight because there are many other factors that might affect your dog's feeding habits--for example, is it a senior dog? Is the dog overweight? How big is the kibble? Instead, you should use the recommendations on the food bag as a starting point and factor in your dog's ideal weight and exercise regimen. It is also important to talk with your vet to understand how much and how many times a day your dog needs to eat to stay energized. From there, get your dog on a daily regimen and track its weight to make sure that it is not losing or gaining too much. Really, how many times a day you feed your dog (and how much you feed it) comes down to what your vet recommends, what type of food your dog eats, and what breed your dog is.

Feeding Habits

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Dogs should be given food at the same time each day. The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine recommends leaving food out for a dog for about 15 minutes. After that, the food should be picked up if not eaten to discourage dogs from thinking they will be able to eat at any time of the day (which can lead to picky eating). Treats should be given in small amounts so that your dog doesn't fall away from regular eating habits.