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It’s a simple question with a complex answer. But, first, a couple do’s and don’ts:
Don’t free feed. Allowing your dog access to food all day long isn’t healthy because it contributes to obesity and binges. Plus, if you need to give your dog a pill with food, or if you need to monitor his food for any reason, it’s nearly impossible.
Do follow a schedule. Dogs thrive on consistency. Whatever feeding schedule you choose, stick to it. A regular, reliable feeding time can alleviate stress, especially during times of transition like back-to-school.
According to VCA animal hospitals, it takes food eight to 10 hours to leave a dog’s stomach, meaning he’ll feel hungry again eight to 10 hours after breakfast. So, two meals per day makes sense. It’s also the most often-recommended feeding schedule according to the pros.
In a perfect world, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule would be ideal, but since most of us have to work during the day, it’s not reasonable.
Food puzzles can help by elongating the length of time it takes your pup to consume a meal. If you feed your dog when you get up in the morning, then leave a food puzzle out for him to work on throughout the day, he’s self-serving his lunch. As long as you control the portions–making sure to feed him no more than his daily intake divided between breakfast, food puzzle, and dinner–it won’t bulk up his waistline.
Whether you go with twice a day, twice plus a food puzzle, or breakfast-lunch-dinner, the most important factor? Consistency.