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Our dogs are four and six years old. We have been feeding them twice a day since each was one year old. Recently I came across a web page that argued quite well on the reasons why it is better to feed an adult dog only once a day. That text did not say (or I missed it) what would be a good time of day for feeding.

On this site I found an answer to another question (motionsickness in a car) where the answerer said "an adult dog only needs to be fed once a day and this is usually, best done in the evening."

Okay, we are now willing to change our routine and start feeding the dogs only once a day.

Why is evening better? The food we give our dogs is dry pellets, which in my imagination makes for easy digestion. Won't the dogs then have empty stomach by the next day and won't that make them restlessly looking for the next bowlful of food? My family is away from home during the day and I'd like our dogs to calmly rest that time. Wouldn't it be good to give them food in the morning before we leave for work and school?

  • How long does it take solid food to go through your dogs? – James Jenkins Feb 4 '14 at 11:47
  • @James Jenkins - I have no idea. It could be anything between 12 to 36 hours for what I can guess. The older dog eats dried out tree branches when he can, and those come out one or two days later, but I haven't bothered timing it. – Esa Paulasto Feb 4 '14 at 16:03
  • I was thinking there might be a relationship between the time you feed and the time they poop. If so that might be part of the path to your answer. – James Jenkins Feb 4 '14 at 16:10
  • There is no pattern in it. Seems more related to the amount (length 'n tempo) of outdoors walks. But even that connection is vague. – Esa Paulasto Feb 4 '14 at 16:27
  • Does anyone know if feeding once a day makes an adult dog more susceptible to bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus? I prefer twice a day just so I don't need to worry (but I don't know if my worrying is founded in science or not). – Rick Sep 8 '15 at 21:37

11 Answers 11

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Either once or twice a day are fine for most dogs. The timing doesn't matter to much either as long as they have access to an appropriate place to eliminate. One suggestion I like is to feed them a little before a long walk. That way they can go while on the walk and they are tired and full after the walk so will be ready for a quiet day alone or a good night sleep. Any time you change your feeding schedule or amount be sure to closely monitor your dog's weight so that they don't gain or loose if it isn't desired.

If your dog has motion sickness problems then avoid feeding for a couple hours before the car ride. If it a daily car ride you might choose to feed them after you return so they are always riding on an empty stomach.

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With my dogs, the Vet recommended twice a day (morning and evening), as do most food packages (although the packages usually recommend way too much food).

With water is keep it full, perhaps taking it away in the evening to prevent accidents int he middle of the night. Just as an additional FYI excessive drinking and urination is a sign of problems.

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  • Do you happen to know if the recommendation from your vet was related to the precise food offered? I'm just wondering if the type of food makes any difference in feeding frequency. – Esa Paulasto Feb 9 '14 at 16:07
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I think there are pros and cons to feeding at any time of the day. The only thing I agree with completely is that dogs don't need to be free fed. Just like people, they can graze when bored and easily overeat.

Personally, I feed twice a day, but if someone made me choose, I'd choose morning time. I say this based on the reasoning behind feeding people and the thought that people and dogs are pretty similar. Dogs and people are both designed to eat a large meal and then have our system empty out before the next meal. This is opposed to say, a horse, whose digestive tract is designed to have something flowing through it almost constantly. This leads to the opposite problem as people often feed there horses once to twice a day.

Anyway, I know that eating a large meal right before bed can cause people to gain weight. Also, you need food energy available for building muscle and for other similar reasons. Therefore, to me, it makes more sense to feed in the morning. You have that food energy just sitting there waiting to be used. His stomach should still have a little food in it when he goes to bed, but most likely he'll need to potty well before bed and will be less likely to go during the night.

Either way you go, though. I don't think you're going to go wrong. If you look at how pack animals hunt in the wild, they go out hunting in the morning and the evening when it's cool. They rest during the middle of the day and sleep at night. They also may not catch a meal for a couple of days. So either way you choose, you're still following natural patterns.

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I Personally like to feed my dogs at night because it makes them slightly more responsive to treats during the day for training purposes. Also, I don't starve them all day as I'm sure you do not. I give them interactive toys and fill them with kibble, and treat them, probably more than I should:). Although, as was stated earlier, dogs in the wild may go days before a meal and their system can handle it. We just don't want them to have to. As for weight gain, if they are otherwise healthy, it should not be an issue if you are portioning out their food and giving them plenty of exercise. Not sure about how dogs build muscle, but for humans we achieve the most gains at night. This is because our bodies produce certain hormones at night (human growth hormone for example) that cause our body to repair and grow. For humans it is best, if you are trying to build muscle, to have a meal a little before bed to give your body the energy it needs to grow. Although, you must be careful what and how much you eat. Humans, as with dogs, need to have the proper diet and exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight. It is true that you will most likely loose some weight during the night if you don't eat before bed, but this is literally because you are already starving yourself for 8 hours by sleeping. Like was said earlier, most vets recommend feeding adult dogs twice a day to maintain a healthy metabolism. This is comparable to humans eating many small meals to maintain a healthy metabolism. But, for the best results, put your dog on a routine. Feed them the appropriate amount of healthy food, and get them plenty of exercise and love, and you will be just fine.

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    This sounds like a good answer, but it implies the existence of a lot of supporting science, that is not linked in the answer. Could you include references to the science you are referencing? I know you are new to the site and not sure about how to format, don't worry about the formatting. Just put it in there as best you can, and one of us will be happy to clean it up for you. – James Jenkins Nov 16 '15 at 15:48
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    Digestion process is very different between dogs and humans. – Esa Paulasto Nov 25 '15 at 9:08
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I have just acquired a 2/3 year old JRT, who seriously needs expert training which I have already arranged. The Trainer states that dogs should not be fed in the morning, but rather at midday or early evening. This lady has forty years experience in dog behaviour and training. I think part of the reason is that the dog will then be more interested in treats as rewards through the training regime. Hope this helps. Dave.

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I've found this thread as I was searching for why my 15month old golden is vomiting bile in the morning. It appears that the reason is because her stomach is empty and the lining becomes irritated. My girl gets fed about 7.00am and between 5 and 6pm, with supposedly bedtime dog biscuits (2-3 only)about 7.30-8.00pm. I hate to think what she may be like if I was to move to one meal a day - everyone is different, so I guess it's what suits you and your pooch.

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  • At 15 months, your dog is (was, seeing I'm quite late to comment here) still far from grown. Once per day should be sufficient for a fully grown dog, so for a retriever may be from age 2 or 2 1/2 on. – cbeleites unhappy with SX Feb 26 '19 at 19:34
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I have two 7 year old small dogs. Have had them just over 3 months and they are rescue dogs. The Rspca only fed them once a day at midday. I feed them twice a day 7am and 4pm ish. I have halved their morning feed as they seem to be more hungry in the pm feed. I have also learnt to mix their biscuits in the wet food as they were not eating the biscuits before. I was following the food guide on the so called top level kibble packet but found they were putting on weight. I am still observing and weigh them from time to time to keep their weight in check. One dog thinks of food all day the other just when hungry. 🐶🐶

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My greyhound Missie YoKo is fed at 7.15am 1 hour before a 30 - 45min walk, she has another walk 30 - 45min in the afternoon and is fed again at 5.00pm.I feed her a raw food diet. Only one treat a week 1 single scoop of Yogurt ice cream. She is shown constant love and affection and responds positively to what is asked of her.

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We looked after a dog for 8 weeks some years ago and he was a nervous wreck in the car. My animal practitioner advised giving him a slice of brown bread before a car ride because his gastric juices would have something to work on (digest) instead of them creating more nevous nausea. This worked perfectly well with that dog. Also my 4 dogs get fed at varied times each day because according to advice I got many years ago if dogs have a regular feeding regime their digestive juices are active some time before their dishes are put on the floor. Those juices are acid and can be damaging to the stomach lining unless busy with food digestion. If you feed at varied times then dogs do not learn this digestion regulating habit and therefore run less risk of problems.

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    Interesting advice. I disagree with what you were told about feeding due to learned gastric acids. Our human stomachs do not create acids until we eat or drink something requiring digestion. Hence, "fasting vs non-fasting" (blood draws for) lab work. I cannot see how that would differ with dogs, but I am not a Veternarian. – elbrant Feb 2 '19 at 13:09
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I have a biggish dog.

  • Rural dog feeding strategy over here is:

    • if you need a more alert watch-dog for the night and prefer the dog to be sleepy during the day: feed in the morning.
    • if you have a barker, and want your neighbours to get some sleep during the night: feed in the evening.
  • These big dogs are at risk for turning their stomach, and the recommendation is to avoid activity with full stomach, and not to give too much at a time.

    • I usually feed him twice although he's now (at 2 1/2) able to do with 1 meal per day.
    • Feeding times aren't that regular in the sense that the more important rule is: food just before sleeping/nap time.
    • So if he has the regular morning bike run to the office, he gets his morning ration there and then has his office nap.
    • In the evening, he's fed last thing I do and then usually turns into his dog house after a "regional call" to the neighbouring dogs and a last inspection round of the premises.
    • If we're hiking whole day, he's fed afterwards the full day ration.
    • How much rest after feeding depends not only on the amount but also on the type of food: If you feed, let's say, a raw lung, he may take a digestive nap of 12 h before being ready to run again.
    • I believe he's an exception in that he's the first dog I've ever known who rarely overeats (and he's singularly unconcerned about someone else stealing his food). Also, he signs quite clearly when he's hungry and that is not always ;-).
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I have always fed my dogs twice a day at 7:30am and again at 7pm. One of my girls gets acid reflux and throws up sometimes when she has an empty stomach which is why I would feed in the evening. She even gets a little yogurt before bed to settle her stomach

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  • The question is asking "what time of day to feed their adult dogs?", and specifically "why is evening better?". Can you offer an answer to those questions? – elbrant Mar 3 '19 at 2:46
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    The question isn't asking when you feed your own dogs. The OP heard that it is best to feed an adult dog once a day, in the evening. Can you link to any sources online that suggest twice a day is better than once a day? – elbrant Mar 5 '19 at 14:10

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