Dear Jeni: How many times a day does my dog need to eat?  

For most healthy adult dogs, the optimal feeding schedule is two meals per day, 8 to 12 hours apart. To us, this may sound like a long time to go in between meals. Who doesn’t want a mid-morning snack?! However, the canine digestive system works differently than a human’s. It takes anywhere from 4-6 hours for your dog’s stomach to fully digest a meal, and their bodies don’t send hunger signals again until at least 8 hours after eating! 

To avoid any potential health risks, it is recommended that you wait one to two hours after feeding your pup before letting them engage in strenuous exercise. Feeding once in the morning and once in the evening works well for most doggy lifestyles. 

Of course, there are exceptions to the two-meals-a-day guideline, depending on your fur-baby’s age, breed, and health. Puppies and dogs with medical issues or dietary conditions may need to eat more than twice a day as determined by their vet. Puppies under 10-months old should be fed more frequently (around 3-4 times per day). This makes digestion easier for their small stomachs, and helps them get enough nutrition to keep their energy levels consistent throughout the day. 

Keep in mind that what your dog eats is just as important as when your dog eats. Speak with your vet or a pet nutritionist to determine the right type of food and feeding schedule for your dog’s individual needs. 

Just as sitting down for a meal brings people together, feeding time helps strengthen the special connection between you and your fur-baby. Use mealtime as a special way to bond with your pup each day!