How Often Should I Feed My Dog During the Day?

One of the easiest ways to keep your dog healthy is to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of food. Your dog’s age, activity level, and breed affects how frequently you should be feeding them. Figuring out how often your dog needs to eat does not have to be a mystery. Below we have created a guide to figuring out how often your pup needs to eat. 

What’s the Right Time to Feed a Dog?

The question of, “How many times a day should a dog eat?” can seem difficult to answer due to so many different notions about what the right schedule is. The most common routine is feeding your dog once at breakfast and once at dinner. This feeding schedule also works well for most pet parents as they feed their pet before they leave for work and again when they get home.

However, every dog is different so not all dogs are going to thrive on a two-meal schedule. When determining when you should be feeding a dog–and the amount to feed your dog–keep in mind your dog’s breed, age, and activity level. 

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Small Dog?

Considering “How much to feed a dog by weight?” is a good way to determine a feeding schedule. While many people feed dogs once or twice a day despite their size, a small breed dog requires smaller dog food serving sizes and more frequent meals. As little dogs have little stomachs, their tiny tummies fill up fast. Breaking up their meals into two to four small meals can help them digest easier and not overeat.

One of the best ways to figure out the right amount of food for your pet is to look at the dog feeding guide on their food bag. This will tell you the correct dog food measurements for your pup according to their weight. For example, if you want to know “How much food should a 20 lb. dog eat?” Look at the chart for 20 lbs. to see what amount of food is right for your pup. 

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Large Dog?

Unlike small breed dogs, large breeds have larger stomachs allowing for bigger meals. Larger dogs typically thrive off the 2 meals a day schedule. However, the question of “How many cups of food should I feed my dog?”, does not have to be difficult. The best way to decide the correct food for your dog is to determine their dog food amount per weight.

The back of your pets dog food bag typically has a feeding guide for dogs. This allows you to see the recommended food amounts for dogs according to their weight. Let’s say you ask yourself “How much should a 50 lb. dog eat?” Look for 50 lbs. on the guide and you will be able to see the recommended dog food amounts for your dog. 

A dog lays with her front paws on her human's legs while the human holds up a handful of dog kibble

Should You Use a Dog Feeding Schedule?

Having a feeding schedule for your dog can be incredibly beneficial. When figuring out what the appropriate time to feed a dog is, remember that dogs are creatures of habit. You want to make sure that you will be able to stick to that schedule once enforced.

Providing a regular feeding routine will help your dog cope with changes, provide security, and makes switching foods easier on your dog. A schedule also reduces risk of obesity, allows you to monitor your dog’s appetite, and regulates potty time.

To begin a feeding schedule, look for a dog feeding chart that matches your dog’s size and age. The use of a dog food chart is to ensure the food portions for dogs are correct based on the dog’s size and life stage. Once you determine feeding times that work with your routine and dog, reference the dog feeding guidelines on the chart.

It’s super important to note that while feeding guidelines on a pet food label can provide a great starting point when determining how much to feed, this is a decision best made with the help of your vet. Using the feeding guidelines as a general guide, your vet will be able to tell you exactly how much to feed.

How Long Should a Dog Go Before Eating?

There is no universal standard of how to properly feed a dog. Understanding what the best time to feed dogs is will help you create the proper schedule for your dog. The first question to tackle is “Should I feed my dog once or twice a day?” The answer to that comes down to three things: breed, age, and activity level. 

As discussed, a smaller dog will need to eat more frequent, smaller meals. Due to them needing more frequent meals, many dog parents will resort to leaving food out for dogs. If you go with this method the best time to feed a dog once a day is in the morning. Doing so allows your dog to eat their food as needed throughout the day.

However this method may not work depending on your dog’s age. For example, how much should a puppy eat? A puppy has not learned how to eat properly, so if a bowl is left out they will devour all the food right away. Due to their small stomachs they need to eat more frequently so be sure to keep this in mind.

Lastly, consider your dog’s activity level. A dog who is running around all day will inevitably burn more energy. Therefore, they’ll need more food than a dog who sits around most of the day. 

What’s the Healthiest Time For a Dog to Eat?

The healthiest time to feed the dog you have varies, but in general people should rely on feeding a dog twice a day. The best time to feed a dog twice a day is to feed them once in the morning and once in the evening. Due to the structure of dogs’ stomachs, they typically need food every 8-10 hours making breakfast and dinner the perfect meal times for your dog.

At these meals it’s important to follow the dog feeding recommendations from your vet. Using a feeding chart in determining dog food portions by weight and then confirming that amount with your vet ensures the appropriate amount of food is being given to your dog. Portioning your dog’s food at specific times will keep your dog in a healthy weight range and give them the appropriate nutrients they need.

A small mixed breed dog sits behind a bowl while a human pours Unrefined ancient grains dog food into it

How to Feed Your Dog to Lose Weight?

If you find that your pup is above their healthy weight range, you may want to consider creating a weight loss plan. Begin by choosing a weight loss dog food, such as Earthborn Holistic Weight Control. Using a weight loss food can help your dog reduce fat while maintaining the appropriate nutrients they need.

With any weight loss plan, you’ll want to make sure to keep your dog under vet supervision. Make sure to schedule regular visits so your vet can keep tabs on your dog’s progress and adjust the dog food quantity or feeding times accordingly.

How to Feed Your Dog to Gain Weight?

A pet parent’s goal is always to keep their pup happy and healthy.  If your dog becomes underweight, it is important to get them back to a healthy weight. Getting your dog to gain weight does not necessarily mean increasing their dog food quantity within their two meals.

Start by feeding your dog smaller meals, more frequently. Sometimes the recommended serving size for dogs may be too large for your dog to consume in only two sittings. Breaking up the amount into more frequent meals will increase your dog’s food intake. Using a feeding chart for dogs by weight can be a useful tool in gaining a few extra pounds. Finding a dog food feeding guide and working with your vet will help get your dog to a healthier weight.

How Can You Establish Eating Times?

Feeding dogs does not have to be complicated if you pay attention to your dog’s needs. By now you should know when the best time to feed a dog is based on those needs, but how do you establish their new schedule?

Dogs are creatures of habit so they don’t typically respond well to abrupt changes. When switching to a new feeding schedule, the best thing to do before enforcing it is to ensure the new schedule will work with your daily schedule. Next, slowly transition into the new feeding schedule.

For example, if you are removing a meal, begin by substituting the meal with a snack and slowly phase out the meal. If you are creating more frequent meals, slowly decrease the size of the original meals and put the extra food into the new meal. Eventually all meals should be the same size.

If you’re wondering “How much should my dog eat?” use the dog food feeding chart on your pup’s food as a basic guideline and then work if your vet to determine exact amounts. Feeding dogs doesn’t have to be complicated if you pay attention to your dogs needs!

Why Do Eating Times Matter?

Taking advantage of the best feeding times for dogs can be one of the easiest ways to maintain your dog’s health. As the best times to feed a dog vary based on different factors, knowing when and how to change dog feeding schedules can be a beneficial tool in ensuring your dog does not respond poorly to new changes. A regular dog feeding schedule helps maintain your dog’s overall mental and physical health by allowing them time to properly use the nutrients in their food and keep consistency in their life. 

Two dogs sit an outdoor folding chair while a bag of Unrefined dog food sits between them

How Much Should a Puppy Eat?

The type, amount, and frequency of your dog’s food is extremely important in the developmental stage of a dog’s life. Using a dog food formulated for puppies like Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage will help support the rapid growth of your puppy. This rapid growth also means your pup will need more food than a normal adult dog.

To figure out what the recommended dog food amount for your pup is, look at the feeding chart on their food. The chart will explain the amount of food your puppy should be eating throughout the day. Typically feeding a puppy twice a day is not going to be enough food to properly aid them in their growth. So, how often should puppies eat? The recommended amount of puppy meals per day is anywhere between 2-5 meals a day as they grow. The chart below shows how many times to feed a puppy as they develop:

6 weeks to 4 months4 months to 6 months6 months to Adult
Toy Breeds4 to 5 meals per day3 to 4 meals per day2 to 3 meals per day 
Small and Medium Breeds3 meals per day2 meals per day2 meals per day
Large and Giant Breeds3 meals per day2 to 3 meals per day2 to 3 meals per day

As with any other feeding guidelines, how much and how many times to feed a puppy should be discussed with your vet to make sure they’re growing and developing as they should.

How Much Should a Senior Dog Eat?

We all want our dogs to live a long, healthy life and that begins with how you feed them. Towards the end of a dog’s life, what you’re putting into their body is very important as the’re typically less active and eat less. The first thing to do when your dog reaches their senior stage is to consider switching to a new dog food.

Our top three choices for senior dog food are our Weight Control, Adult Vantage, and Ocean Fusion recipes. All of these recipes are low calorie and contain glucosamine and chondroitin designed to combat joint deterioration, decreased activity level, and their slowing metabolism. Adding wet food into an older dog’s diet can also be beneficial as it’s easily digestible, helps keep your dog hydrated, and is easy to chew.

Once you have found a food suitable to your dog’s needs, look for a dog feeding chart by weight and age. The feeding instructions will help you navigate the new feeding guidelines for dogs at this stage. That amount of food should then be broken up into at least two meals throughout the day.

What Do Your Friends Recommend?

Another helpful resource is your fellow pet parents and your dog’s veterinarian. Determining when to change dog food, dog food portions, and how often your dog needs to eat can be stressful, but it can be beneficial to talk to friends and your vet about these changes. They can give you feeding recommendations for dogs, help you establish a dog food transition chart, and overall create dog feeding guidelines that work for both you and your dog.