Is it cruel to feed a dog once a day? Feeding Schedules 101



Many dog ​​owners wonder if feeding their dog once a day is beneficial or even cruel.


I was one of them


My Rottweiler went from 3 to 2 feedings as an adult.

But then I read about the dog equivalent of “intermittent fasting” and wondered if there were any health benefits to skipping an occasional day or feeding once and then feeding more the next day.

It was a bit counterproductive.

I’ve found that my dog ​​has certain needs when it comes to feeding frequency and yours might as well.

Feeding him once a day can be great for some, but terrible for others, especially if your dog is suffering from medical problems.

FYI: The scientific jury is still out on whether or not feeding once a day is optimal. Although there are some studies, there are still no large-scale, peer-reviewed studies published in journals.

That being said, some dogs just can’t do it.

If your dog vomits continuously while being fed once a day, it is a clear sign that this feeding schedule is not made for your specific dog.

My Rottweiler would throw up when the time between meals was too long (especially between evening and morning).

Well, she always loved her food and rarely left a bun on her plate.

My Rottweiler Amalia as a puppy sleeping upside down in her feeder.
Photo by Pawleaks

However, some dog owners claim to have seen great improvements after fasting their dogs.

It is up to you and perhaps your vet to assess whether or not your dog is the right candidate.

On the one hand, a healthy large breed adult dog may accept it or even prefer it.

On the other hand, if you have a puppy, small older dog, or unsuitable dog, you may need to reconsider your feeding schedule and stick to feeding him 2-3 times a day.

Let’s take a look at how you can determine whether or not it’s worth trying to feed your dog once a day.

Is it cruel to feed a dog once a day?

It’s generally not cruel to feed a healthy adult dog once a day from time to time, but that food should be the right size and balanced. Monitor the feeding schedule as many dogs do not do well on once a day feedings.

Age is an important component in whether feeding your dog once a day is okay or not.

Puppies have shorter periods for when they need nutritional power and feeding a puppy once (or even twice) a day is not good for his health.

First of all, your pup probably won’t be able to eat all the food in one sitting.

Second, your pup will be lacking in energy between naps, where puppies usually regenerate until the next burst of energy.

If your dog is older, he may also have a problem with one meal a day, as he will be lacking in energy for most of the day and will not be able to digest a large meal.

The same is true for dogs with pre-existing health conditions.

You may need to talk to your vet about that, but generally speaking, if you’re not sure, feed your dog 2-3 times a day and he should be fine.

You probably shouldn’t feed your dog once a day if your dog meets one of the following criteria:

  • Major or medical condition
  • Puppy (3-4x meals a day)
  • Feeding once a day has already occurred several days in a row
  • Problems with a meal once a day (vomiting, lethargy, intestinal problems)

However, some of you only want to try feeding once a day with a healthy dog ​​or perhaps have done so in the past on busy days.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of feeding him once a day.

Pros and cons of feeding your dog once a day

Some dog owners who feed once a day claim that their dog’s gut health or immune system improved as did their appetite, but there can be considerable downsides as well.

Other dogs just gurgle that frothy white vomit (the color of the vomit is really essential to verify the reason for the vomit).

Puppy sits next to a small puddle of white dog vomit.
Photo by cunaplus from Shutterstock

First, the supposed advantages of feeding your dog once a day:

  • Improved gut health
  • stronger immune system
  • More interest in eating.
  • It resembles the feeding pattern of wolves.
  • More convenient for dog owners.

As mentioned above, you should be aware that gut health and immune system boosters are not scientifically proven beyond a doubt.

That being said, your dog’s gut health may very well be positively affected as this feeding schedule is much more similar to what they would do in the wild.

Others argue that dogs are no longer wolves and that domestication has come a long way, including their eating habits.

Improvements in gut health and the immune system are hotly debated among owners who fast their dogs for a full day.

Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean your dog needs fewer calories, but even if the weekly nutritional supply is the same, intermittent fasting can have positive effects.

It’s working for many humans who are trying to lose weight and can be a great tool for overweight dogs as well.

You shouldn’t overdo it and feed more in one sitting than you would all day.

Some dog owners go so far as to fast their dogs twice a week.

Personally, skipping two days is definitely not for me and my Rottweiler.

That’s all well and good, but there are potential downsides to consider as well.

The cons of feeding your dog once a day are as follows:

  • Lack of nutritional balance for a long time.
  • Vomiting can lead to other health problems
  • The dog may not be able to eat all the food
  • Gulping down food can increase the risk of bloating
  • It can create confusion about the feeding schedule.

Some of these problems, such as nutritional balance and not eating all the food, can be easily solved.

If you monitor your dog’s food intake and he eats the food without a problem, you’re probably fine in that regard (although it might not be the best solution for you).

Vomiting is a bit more difficult to control, however, and while it may just be the adjustment period, you should monitor him closely and see your vet.

Last but not least, your dog will probably get confused.

Think about it, nobody is telling you anything and suddenly there is a whole day without eating. Will there ever be another meal? Will you starve? Have they forgotten you?

That’s what my rottweiler’s eyes convey, even if I’m just skipping a meal.

On another note: it rarely happens, but when I’m on a road trip with my dog, skipping his morning meal can really be beneficial.

In this way, you avoid the risk of your dog vomiting in the car and bloating if you do not have much time in the morning, ideally wait 30 to 60 minutes after eating.

The worst that can happen is bloating when you exercise with your dog right after eating and if you had to choose I would go without food or just provide a very light one.

The best time to feed the dog once a day

The best time to feed your dog once a day is when the last meal was given 12 hours earlier and the next meal was given 24 hours later or vice versa (most likely morning or evening) or spread out the time between meals evenly and feed halfway. day.

This schedule assumes that you have been and will be feeding your dog twice a day before and after that day that you only feed once a day.

If you feed your dog only once a day as part of his regular feeding schedule, just pick a time like noon and stick to it every day.

A couple of examples (assuming 2 meals on Monday and Wednesday):

  1. You feed your dog at 8 pm Monday, then at 8 am Tuesday morning, and again at 8 am Wednesday morning.
  2. You feed your dog Monday at 8 pm, then Tuesday at 8 pm and Wednesday at 8 am
  3. You feed your dog on Monday at 8 pm, then on Tuesday at 2 pm and on Wednesday at 8 am

If you feed once a day, stick to 2 pm every day, for example.

Your dog’s specific feeding schedule will, of course, vary greatly.

When you go to bed and wake up, you will decide what time morning and evening meals should be served and not everyone can feed their dog in the middle of the day.

Can I feed my dog ​​3 times a day?

Yes, you can feed your dog 3 times a day and for puppies, seniors, and dogs with some health conditions, that is actually the recommended feeding schedule.

Even if you have a healthy adult dog, you can still choose to feed him three times a day if your dog likes that.

Some dogs just can’t go all day without food and for some time I have given my Rottweiler a treat in the middle of the day to keep his stomach from growling.

Beware of the risk of bloating if your schedule does not allow 3 feeds with enough time to eat and cool down afterwards.

Also, don’t let those puppy dog ​​eyes fool you into giving him a third meal if you don’t have to. Especially not if it’s an extra meal on top.

The best time to feed a dog

The best time to feed your dog depends entirely on how often you feed your dog, but you should make sure that the time between meals is no more than 12-24 hours at most.

The feeding times listed above can act as a starting point for you.

Most dog owners will opt to feed them in the morning and at night.

However, make sure he’s not okay before going to bed and give your dog a chance to go to the bathroom.

Should you feed your dog before or after walks?

If possible, avoid feeding your dog before walks for about an hour and allow your dog to cool down for a short period after walks to properly digest the food.

Since the risk of bloating and other issues is more prevalent with feeding before walks, I would personally recommend feeding your dog after the walk.

How to change the dog’s feeding schedule

Every change in the diet, and that includes the feeding schedule itself, should be changed slowly and closely monitored. Take a step back if your dog is not well.

It is not advisable to go from 3 meals a day to 1 meal the next day and your dog is likely to vomit or show other signs of hunger.

Try to provide two meals instead and once your dog is fine with that (a couple of days or maybe weeks), make the second meal lighter.

At some point, you will be able to feed only a snack as a second meal. Soon, you could transition to just one feeding.

It is entirely up to you whether one meal a day is ideal for your dog and if you are unsure, consult your vet.

The science isn’t quite on one side or the other so it’s up to you, but cruel is not the right word as long as the diet is balanced and your dog gets all his calories.

Trust me, my Rottweiler wouldn’t let that transgression go, and maybe your dog is showing clear signs of what feeding times are best for him, too.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not intended to be. I am not a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.



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