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Breakfast, lunch or dinner?


Adult dogs -- generally from one to two years old -- can be fed once a day, but that might not be the best option for health and happiness.

Small breeds, with smaller stomachs and tinier appetites, often do better when their daily food is divided between two meals.  Large dogs, which may be prone to bloat, should be fed two smaller meals to lessen digestive issues.

It is often recommended that dogs be offered food in a consistently measured amount.  What is not eaten should be removed after about 20 minutes.  This method of feeding allows an owner to monitor appetite, which is a good general indicator of health issues.  It also enables owners to control calorie intake and weight.  Dogs that are permitted to "free-feed" from a never-empty bowl may overeat from boredom and be at risk of obesity.

Evening is a good time to offer a dog his bowl, if you are feeding once a day.  With one evening meal, a dog can be exercised and toileted in the morning and then will most probably by comfortable all day.  This is helpful if the dog spends the day alone while people are at work. 

It is advisable that a dog should enjoy rigorous exercise before a meal, rather than after, to reduce the chances of bloat.  In general, exercise on an empty stomach is more comfortable than on a full one, for dogs and people. 

In Florida's heat, heavy exercise in the early morning, at the coolest time of day, followed by the first of two smaller meals, has proven to work well for many dogs.  A second small meal offered after evening exercise is then on the schedule.

Timing a dog's meal so that they are fed separately and before the people sit down to eat is also a good idea.  This makes it easier to curb begging at the table and reinforce good behavior.

A precise, punctual feeding schedule, accompanied by a consistent exercise routine, will help maintain a dog's health.