How many times a day should a dog eat? Discover the many reasons why a dog may not want to eat and what to do about it. And when you should go to the vet.
My personal dogs never miss a meal. They know breakfast is at 7am and dinner at 5pm. Starting at 4:30, Bear will sit and stare me down until I get up to feed him. And let me reassure you, they’ve never missed a meal in their entire lives with us.
Each week of 2020, I am choosing a question from a Rescue Dogs 101 community member.
This week’s question is from Paula, she asks:
I have a perfect little rescue pup. She is 6-1/2 years old and her name is Sissy. Sissy is a chihuahua, and she is soooooo sweet!! The only thing is, she only eats like once every 3 days. She sniffs at food, but she only eats once every 2 or 3 days. It seriously worries me. Is this normal?
So let’s start by asking…
How many times a day should a dog eat?
Most vets recommend feeding an adult dog two meals a day. Breakfast and dinner.
So what if my dog only eats once a day? If you choose to feed your dog once in the morning, that’s totally fine.
Every person and dog’s situation is different. Go with what works with your schedule, what your dog needs and prefers.
I’ve also know some people that prefer to feed their dog three meals a day. It’s all relative. An over or underweight dog is not healthy, so feed the total amount your dog needs based on the packaged requirements.
If you feed raw or fresh, then seek an expert’s advice to make sure it is a balanced feeding schedule.
If you have a young puppy, they will likely need to eat 3-4 times a day. Talk with your vet for proper feeding guidelines tailored to your puppy.
Is this new behavior, or has she always only eaten once every few days?
Now, I am going to assume Sissy had been with you for longer than a few months. But if she is new to your home, then she just may need time to adjust to her new life.
Have you talked with your vet about Sissy not eating? If this is a new behavior, then I suggest talking to your vet right away.
Lack of eating can be health or stress-related. Getting a clean bill of health will put your worries at ease.
Have you tried changing her food?
Some dogs are pickier than others when it comes to what they will eat. Will she eat treats, fresh chicken or hot dogs? If so, then you likely just have a picky eater.
Try a different brand and protein. If you are feeding her chicken flavor, try beef or fish. Dog food brands are not created equal. Opt for high-quality food.
Try adding water, bone broth, and fresh foods.
Also, consider serving her food in a different type of bowl. If you are using plastic, try stainless steel. Read how to get my dog to drink more water for some more ideas.
Is she getting treats or other foods?
If you are feeding her snacks throughout the day, she just may not be hungry when it comes to mealtime. Try eliminating all the treats and see if that changes her appetite.
Is she getting enough physical and mental exercise?
If Sissy isn’t getting the exercise she needs, then she isn’t working up an appetite to burn the calories. Try taking a long walk and playing some mind games.
Use her food as training treats.
There is no rule that a dog needs to eat from a bowl. Make Sissy work for her food. Have fun with this, have her do some tricks, or even a simple sit, then give her a few pieces of kibble.
Read how to train your dog in 3 minutes a day for some more ideas.
You can also try some dog puzzles to work up the excitement of eating.
To review, there are many reasons why a dog may not want to eat:
- Stress from a new environment
- Change in the normal routine
- Hidden health illness
- Dental problems
- Picky eater
- Eating too many treats between meals
- Not getting enough exercise
Paula, I hope this helps you and Sissy resolve her eating mystery.
Recommended reading just for you:
- 5 Quick Ways to Train Your Dog in 3 Minutes a Day
- 11 Great Ideas on How to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water
- What Should I Feed My Dog?
As a community we are here to help each other in times of need, so please share.
Is your dog a picky eater or a food mongrel? Please leave a comment below if you have any tips to get your dog to eat their food when they aren’t interested.
Have a question of your own? Email me with the subject line #AskingForMyDog and I may choose to feature it in our next Q&A!