How Often Should I Feed My Pet?
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
As pet parents, we know that every dog and cat has a unique personality, especially when it comes to food and mealtime habits. Some pets are very food motivated while others may not be. Understanding the varying feeding behaviors of our pets is one important factor to determine an ideal dog feeding schedule or ideal cat feeding schedule. But how often to feed a dog or how often to feed a cat requires a little more consideration.
Deciding How Often to Feed a Dog
Dogs, by nature, are pack animals. Some dogs may not eat their meal until their owner (or alpha) has eaten, while others scarf down their meal regardless of who is on top of the totem pole. No matter what type of eater you have, it is important to first consult your vet on how much your pup should eat each day. Breed, activity level, and health needs are factors veterinarians consider when calculating the exact amount of food needed in a dog diet, which in turn helps owners decide how often to feed a dog. Typically, a standard dog diet consists of two meals a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. However, pet parents need to consider their pup’s eating behaviors in order to set the best dog feeding schedule for their household.
Deciding How Often to Feed a Cat
Many cats eat the minute the food hits the bowl, while other cats prefer to eat at their leisure, favoring free-choice feeding by grazing throughout the day. This feeding behavior more resembles cats in the wild, who frequently eat ten or more meals of small prey each day. Similar to dogs, owners should first consult with their veterinarian to determine the amount of food that is appropriate for a cat diet, which is based on the animal’s overall health, age, and activity level.
A normal cat diet may include a combination of dry kibble and canned food, or dry kibble only, if the cat is drinking an appropriate amount of water. It is important to measure out the amount of kibble and not just continually fill the bowl because cats tend to gain weight very easily due to their sedentary lifestyles. Most pet parents refill their cat’s food bowl twice a day, however, their individual eating preference of grazing or instantly eating will tell you how often to feed a cat and set an ideal cat feeding schedule.
The Benefits of a Feeding Schedule
Both pets and pet parents reap many benefits from a regular dog feeding schedule or a regular cat feeding schedule. The predictability of a routine helps your dog or cat learn when to expect you to arrive home from work and eases nervousness. A dog feeding schedule usually makes bathroom trips more regular and a cat feeding schedule strengthens your relationship since you are fulfilling a very important need. Pet parents will find that a dog feeding schedule or a cat feeding schedule provides portion control for weight management. It also allows pet parents keep an eye on their dog or cat’s health since any changes in appetite may indicate an illness. If your dog or cat’s eating does not get back to normal within a few days, it’s time to see the veterinarian.
The PetComfort feeding system is one of the healthiest ways for your pet to eat. Find out more here.