Getting used to a dog’s eating habits can be difficult for new owners. Unlike people, dogs don’t’ have a complicated eating regiment, and this difference between humans and dogs can cause new dog owners to overfeed their pet which can results in a variety of complications, the most obvious of which would be excessive weight gain.

So how often should a dog, or a puppy for that matter, eat?

There is some basic advice, with which most veterinarians agree, that recommends feeding adult dogs once per day, and puppies two to four times per day. Those are the basic rules; however, the process is more nuanced.

For puppies, it is generally recommended that they be fed four times per day; however, if the owner’s schedule doesn’t allow for this type of portioning, then two or three times per day is acceptable. It is important to note that the volume of food being fed does not change, and should follow the guidelines provided by the food manufacturer—the food simply gets split into appropriate portions.

For adult dogs, the recommendation is to feed once per day for dogs that are not very active, but twice per day (once in the morning and once in the evening) for working dogs or sporting dogs (while in the field).

Elderly dogs will tend to require lower caloric intake due to their reduced activity, so the amount of food should be controlled, and perhaps reduced to once per day.

Other feeding schedules may be recommended based on your dog’s health and veterinarians recommendation.

Type Specific Feeding

Depending on the size and body type of the dog, the recommended feeding regiment for a puppy will vary. For large breed puppies, it is suggested that the feeding be portioned into four or even five feedings to allow for sustained and slow growth which allows for development of enough bone mass to support their growing bodies. For small or pudgy breeds require lower calorie diets, so keep that in mind. You can figure out if you are over- or under-feeding your dog by keeping an eye on its body—if you can see her ribs, then she is underweight and should be fed a larger volume; if you are able to feel, but not see, the ribs, then your dog is at the right weight. This is not a hard and fast rule, but applies well enough for most breeds.

Is It OK to Leave Out a Full Bowl of Food for Your Dog?

Leaving food out, or free feeding, will result in the dog overeating as it will be able to graze throughout the day and never feel full. This will most likely results in the dog becoming overweight, which can lead to other health problem, such as diabetes and heart disease.

If you have a cat, you can check out entry about how often you should feed your cat.