This is one of the most common questions we are asked by pet owners.
Others are. What is the best pet food for my cat or dog? How much should feed? How often should I feed my dog or cat? Should I feed my dog or cat at the same time each day? Ask around and there will be plenty of varying opinions on what is the optimal feeding schedule for your four-legged companion.
Is there a correct answer when it comes to feeding your dog or cat?
In short there really isn’t one right or wrong answer. It depends on your pet’s nutritional needs, age, any medical conditions and their lifestyle. The total number of pets being fed, and their individual personalities should also be considered. Thankfully, dogs and cats can adapt to several types of feeding schedules.
There are three primary ways of offering food to pets:
- free-choice feeding – this method can be used with both cats and dogs and involves having more than enough food available for your pet. In other words, your dog or cat chooses when and how much to eat. Historically, dogs are both opportunistic predators and scavengers, so they will eat whatever and whenever the opportunity arises. This can lead to overfeeding. Cats naturally eat small, frequent meals. Although it’s the most convenient way for busy owners with erratic schedules, it can lead to the most problems mainly obesity. Some pets eat when bored, just as we sometimes do, and that can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Then again, if you have a female dog or cat that is nursing a litter, free-choice feeding is the way to go.
- time-restricted meal feeding - provides your dog with access to plenty of food, but only allows him or her to eat for a predetermined length of time, one or more times daily. This method is typically more labour intensive while being less effective in controlling the amount of food your pet eats.
- portion-controlled - your dog or cat is given meals at set times every day. The food is measured to meet their daily calorie and nutrient needs. This way you control how much your pet eats and when. For most pets, portion-controlled meal feeding is the method of choice. And especially for those dogs who would never stop eating if the decision were left to them. This method is the logical choice to avoid obesity. This then leads to how many times a day do I feed?
Many nutritionist and vets recommend portion-controlled feeding twice daily for adult dogs and cats. Once in the morning and once in the early evening, and more frequently for puppies and kittens, depending on their age. This allows you to monitor how much and how well your pet is eating. Appetite loss is one of the first signals of many health problems, and it can be tough to tell if your dog’s or cat’s appetite is reduced if they free feed.
Always remember that the feeding guidelines shown on the packaging is the total daily amount to be fed.
While many adult pets can be maintained on one meal per day, feeding twice daily is considered healthier and more satisfying. Eating just once a day can cause excess stomach acid and vomiting in some dogs. Two meals a day reduces hunger between meals and reduces food-associated behavior issues, such as begging and stealing food. And for small dogs, such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas and miniature poodles who digest and use food faster than medium and large dogs, you may need to feed three times daily.
No matter whether you feed once, twice or more each day, always try to be as consistent as possible. Feeding the same amount of the same food at the same time every day can help keep your pet’s digestive system regular.
We are always here to help. Do not hesitate in calling your favorite pet food supplier on 01302 637377.