How often should I feed my dog Raw Food?
In our quest to help you guys get used to the Raw Food diet
, we've looked at making you comfy with almost all aspects and concerns. Someone asked me as to How Often I should feed my dog Raw and I thought why not share my inputs with everyone.
So here goes!
It's not complicated at all because it all depends on you. There are no hard and fast rules and every choice you make has it's positives and drawbacks too.
You have multiple choices available and for the most part the frequency of mealtimes is lax.
Like I've said from the very beginning, dogs are just like us. Each dog is unique in his or her own way. Just like some of us eat only twice a day or at varied intervals split into gaps of three hours each, maybe, so as with pets.
The only difference is that our pets will follow our schedule or rather the schedule that we set for them depending on our convenience.
To simplify it, we will look at mealtimes depending on what stage or age the dog is at.
Puppies have small stomachs so space is less. Therefore, they must eat small meals at regular intervals. Even though they're growing, it's important to give them only as much as their small bellies will take.
If your pup is of a small breed, it's even more crucial that he be fed small meals, often, or his blood sugar may drop to below normal levels. This could lead to a lack of energy and decreased ability to function. In extreme cases, a pet may become unconscious or even die. Remember though, that Hypoglycemia
is not a disease.
How will you know if your dog is Hypoglycemic?
Watch him for signs of :
- A personality change
- Twitching of the facial muscles
- He may show signs of an increase in appetite
- Lack of vision
- Sudden weight lossor even weight gain in some cases.
- Loss of consciousness
He may behave like he's drunk. This is called Ataxia
or a lack of voluntary co ordination of the muscles and their movement. He may lose his balance or be unable to walk in a straight line.
Puppies are at a significant risk of becoming hypoglycemic if they fast for long hours.
So, if your pup is :
1 year and above: You can split his meals into twice a day
6 – 12 months: 2 fixed meals a day
3 - 6 months: Split his meals into thrice a day
Less than 3 months: Feed him about 4-5 times a day
Do you remember that we spoke about Body Condition
? It plays an important role here.
If your pup is healthy and has a good BCS ( Body condition score), cut down on his meal. If he's skinny on the other hand, he may need more food.
We also trust that no one knows your pup more than you and that you've taken the efforts to 'know your pet' by now. If your pup is full of life and at an appropriate weight, you decide on how often you want to feed her.
Just make sure she does not put on weight or bloat up. If your pup's a small breed, this puts additional pressure on her legs and frame as she has to carry the weight around. And for large pups, they might suffer with other complications like :
Bone Conditions also known as Pano amongst breeders. This is seen in big breeds and is very painful for your dog.
Diseases of the front limbs: This disease is also known as metaphyseal osteopathy or HOD and appears at a very young age, even as young as 7-8 month old pups. Breeds that are most often known to be inflicted are: German Shepherds,The Weimaraner, Irish Setter, Boxer, and Great Dane
Cartilage Diseases: This affects joints and is very painful. The shoulders, elbows and knees are most likely to be affected.
Most people I know feed their adult pets twice a day and that's okay. Some feed them just once in the morning with no treats in between. It depends on you again.
The Once a day timetable
If you go by natural instinct and natures role in this dilema, you would feed your 'domesticated wolf' only once a day. Wolves eat only when they catch their prey and that's maybe once a day or once in days. But we don't want to keep our pets hungry for days. So once a day is good enough.
Your dogs have personalities of their own. Not all dogs want to eat twice or multiple times in a day. So if they ignore the second meal, you can feed them just once a day.
Feeding them just once aids in better digestion. It also is better for working families or parents who are not at home to take their dogs out more than once during the day.
The Twice a day option:
We all know that if our stomachs are empty for longer periods, it leads to the accumulation of gas. It's the same with pets. You will notice less gas build up if your dog is being fed a raw diet because the food is healthy, but some pet owners prefer to feed their dogs twice a day to avoid any issues with bloating.
- Also, some pet owners are wary of Gastric dilatation volvulus(GDV) also known as 'Twisted Stomach'. In simple language, it is a medical condition where the stomach stretches too much due to excessive gas build up. It is an emergency Medical condition that requires surgery in many cases.
- If your dog is a small breed, you don't want to feed them just once a day anyway, so feeding them twice seems like a better option.
- If your dog is thin, multiple feeding timings might aid in weight gain.
- If your dog is the type that likes treats during the day, two meals a day might help eliminate that altogether.
- You might want to feed your dog his second meal late at night. This prevents him from staying on an empty stomach for too long and will stop him from puking in the morning.
The Senior Citizens
They might eat lesser as they grow older. Here again, I will leave the frequency of their meals up to you.
You could follow the same schedule as for the adult dogs. So when they grow old, ,you can continue to feed them as per whatever you were doing so far. However, if you notice that they eat less, please feel free to give them less.
It's important for our senior dogs to be comfortable in their old age.
As their stomachs are expanding with puppies, they might not be able to consume food in one go. So it's good to feed them multiple meals a day to aid them with digestion.
You can increase their meal frequency up to 5- 7 times a day just before they nurse and then reduce it as the pups start weaning.
Again, it all depends on your dog.
The Working dogs
We can't forget them, can we? They're the one's who need the most energy through the day and so you could look at feeding them in two installments as they expend their energy.
It's not a hard and fast rule though. You could try both options and observe the dogs performance. If you think that the dog's performance will be impacted with a full stomach, you can feed them 12 hours before they have to work too.
This again depends on how hard they have to work and what types of physical activities they're involved in.
We'll let you decide.
Times of the day for meals :
If you have a puppy
and are a working family, feed him before you leave for work and a snack when you get back. Then feed him before he sleeps but not very late at night. He might wake you up to go to the bathroom.
For adult dogs:
If you're feeding them just once, you decide what works best for you and your pet. If you like to be home when they're eating, you can feed them when you're back from work so you can be home for toilet trips.
Pregnant dogs can follow the 'puppy schedule'
Let's look at some more questions I've had people ask me:
Q: Do I feed my dog before or after his exercise?
Answer: This is a good question. It's better to let your dog exercise first give him a rest of an hour or 2 and then
give him to eat. We as humans too, don't exercise after
eating, same goes for your pet.
Q: Do I stick to the clock?
Answer: Routine gets monotonous and so with mealtimes. Although it's good to keep your dog disciplined, you can be a little flexible too and teach your pet to be the same. This will benefit you if you have to travel someplace and/or have to go out somewhere. Your dog won't fall sick or throw up a fuss just because there's been a delay in his meal.
Q: Do you think I could leave food out all day for my dog so he can eat whenever he wants?
A:I personally don't recommend it. Its unhygienic. Also, feeding him only at mealtimes makes it easier for you to potty train him.
Q: Is it okay for my dog to fast?
A: Yes, it's perfectly okay. Because it's not only healthy, it is also a great way to help clean his system. Fasting applies only to adult dogs who are in prime condition; it is a strict NO for pups.
Let us know if you have any more queries and we'll be happy to answer them.
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