Most experts recommend feeding your dog twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening, though puppies under five months of age should be fed three to five times a day, or as directed by your veterinarian.
Your dog’s age, health, reproductive status and exercise level will influence the amount of food your dog should receive. All these factors should be taken into account when feeding your dog. If in doubt always consult your veterinarian.Puppies require small meals throughout the day and generally should be started with 5 small meals a day, bringing this down to four meals a day at the age of 3 months, then 3 meals a day at 6 months. It is important that the puppy is fed a diet designed for its age and breed size. There are diets specifically designed for puppies and young dogs which will ensure the growing dog receives the nutrition required for healthy growth.
- It is better to stick to one variety of good quality dog food and not add any supplements (unless instructed by your vet), as over supplementing can be harmful to your dog.
- If your dog does not eat all of its meal in one go, you may be offering it too much. Not all dogs eat the amount recommended by the food manufacturers. The right amount should produce firm, dark brown, crinkly stools. If the stools are firm, but get softer towards the end, this is a classic sign of overfeeding.
- Never change your dog’s diet abruptly (unless under the direction of your vet). If you want to change its diet, do it gradually over a period of a few days to a week.
- Do not feed your dog before travelling in the car as this can encourage car-sickness, or an hour before or after exercise as this could contribute to a stomach dilation and torsion (also known as bloat) which is a life threatening condition requiring immediate veterinary intervention.
- Medium to large breeds of dogs should be fed from a raised bowl to prevent them from swallowing air while they eat, which can also contribute to bloat. You can buy bowl stands for this purpose. For owners of breeds who are thought to be susceptible to this condition, you should seek advice from your breeder, vet and/or breed club on further precautionary measures.
- Leave your dog in peace while it is eating from its bowl. Taking the bowl away while it is eating causes anxiety, which can lead to aggressive behaviour. If you want to be sure that your dog is comfortable with you approaching it during mealtimes, add a little food to the bowl while it is eating, so it sees you as an asset, rather than a threat.
- Never feed your dog from the table or your plate, as this encourages drooling and attention seeking behaviours such as begging and barking.
- Dogs that gulp their food down too quickly tend to take in large amounts of air whilst eating which can cause stomach and digestive system upset. This can be avoided by placing a large object such a ball in the bowl to encourage him to take smaller bites, or there are some “slow-feeding bowls” available that have built-in obstructions within the bowl. If you have more than one pet, feed them separately to reduce competition for food.
- Make sure that water is always available to your dog, so never take its dog water bowl away.
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