How Often Should Dogs Be Fed?
The simple answer to this question is more than once a day.
Old school breeders and feeders would instruct you to feed your dog only one large meal a day, replicating the way a wolf eats. The problem with this type of thinking, however, is that dogs are not wolves.
Wolves hunt, dogs scavenge.
Dogs are more accustomed to eating small meals throughout the day, unlike wolves who gorge themselves at one large meal after a successful hunt.
Feeding a large amount of food at one time can result in your dog getting gastric torsion (twisted stomach), commonly known as "bloat."
Early symptoms of gastric torsion can include restlessness, with your dog pacing back and forth and standing awkwardly, unable to get comfortable.
They may cough or salivate profusely, and most will try to vomit without any success. As the problem progresses, your dog's belly will begin to swell - if this occurs, you should get to the vet immediately. Gastric torsion is always a matter of life and death.
|Photo of an x-ray showing gastric dilatation and volvulus in a large mixed-breed dog. The large dark area is the gas trapped in the stomach. The pylorus and duodenum are in an abnormal position cranial to the stomach and are separated by a fold in the stomach, creating a "double bubble" appearance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
To lessen the chance of this happening, divide your dog's food up into smaller quantities and feed throughout the course of the day. For most dogs, two meals should do. If you have a highly energetic dog, you may want to spread the food out even more, since high levels of activity after eating can increase the chances of bloat occurring. Four or even five small meals will decrease the chance of any problems. Also, try to delay playtime or trips to the park for at least an hour after eating. Better still, take them out before feeding time. Playing on an empty stomach is always safer. Beside, then they have dinner (!) to look forward to on the way home, followed by a long sleep - the way they would do things in the wild.
Breeds that are the most susceptible to bloat are St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Great Danes, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Gordon setters, and Standard Poodles.
According to a Purdue university study, there are four factors associated with an increased risk of bloat:
1 - Raising the food dish more than doubled the risk for bloat.
2 - Speed of eating - fast eaters had a 38% increase in the chances of bloat occurring.
3 - Age - The risk of bloat increases by 20% with each year of age.
4 - Family history - Having a parent or sibling that had bloated increased a dog's risk level by 63%.
So, in conclusion, feed your dog more than one meal a day. It's safer for them, and I don't think you'll hear any complaints!