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As you might expect, when and how often you should feed your dog depends on the dog. Your dog’s age, breed, weight, activity and health are all factors that help determine your dog’s needs. Metabolism and energy levels can vary up to thirty percent, so it can be a little tricky. You don’t want your dog overweight or hungry.
Calorie requirements vary greatly based on the above mentioned variants, but puppies need small, frequent meals to help their digestion and keep energy levels even. In general, for puppies six to twelve weeks old, four feedings per day is recommended. Some vets say “free feeding” at this age is the best. They are growing and need a lot of nutrition.
Also toy breeds may need four to six meals a day for first three months. Large breeds typically need only three to four.
For three to six months, the AKC recommends three feedings per day of puppy-sized portions until you see signs of maturing such as loss of puppy pot-belly and pudginess.
At six to twelve months you can safely move to feeding twice a day and begin transitioning to adult food, except for smaller breeds. They should be a bit older; ten to twelve months to switch them to adult food. To transition, mix the new adult food with the puppy food and over about a week gradually increase the amount of adult food. This method should help eliminate any stomach upset that might occur from a sudden change in diet.
Always talk to your vet about proper feeding because, again, there are a lot of variants and “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t work for all dogs.
When to feed them is largely up to you depending upon your schedule, unless you are free feeding. Some dogs do very well with this method of feeding, but others tend to gain excess weight, and if you have more than one dog they may bicker over the food. Canine experts recommend feeding twice a day, twelve hours apart. In other words, before leaving for work and after coming home. Some breeders claim once a day is sufficient as long as you leave the food down for a set time, say an hour, to make sure the dog is full.
Nursing dogs should be free fed unless your vet says otherwise.
The best thing for when to feed your dog is to set a schedule and keep to it. You may have to do a little experimenting with times. What works for one may not work for another.
And, again, your best bet is to ask your vet. He or she will know all about the needs of your particular breed and you can start out doing your best for your Best Friend Forever.