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Dogs: free feeding or scheduled feeding

Puppy with Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue enjoying some cool water
Puppy with Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue enjoying some cool water
Becky Chatelain

Do you leave food out for your dog at all times ? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

Many owners leave dog food out for their dogs 24/7 because it's easier to just top it off when it gets low. This can lead to a dog being overweight due to snacking all throughout the day. This can also decrease salivation, which helps moisten the food and starts the digestion process.

Even if your dog isn’t overweight, I encourage scheduled feeding. A loss of appetite is one of the first signs of many illnesses. You may eventually notice if your dog has stopped eating but it may be at a point that there's something medically wrong that has gone beyond the critical point. Early diagnosis is so important to successful treatment.

Also, leaving food out all the time is not very sanitary. Your dog may not be the only animal that learns where to find its meal. You’re inviting insects, rodents, bacteria, and dog food goes stale just like people food. I'm sure your dog appreciates fresh food.

Lastly, finicky animals often need to really be hungry to enjoy their food, so this can help solve the problem of a dog turning his or her nose up at his bowl.

It's easy to determine the amount of food your dog needs according to his weight. Treats can be given in between meal times to ease any hunger. Obviously, your dog should have access to water at all times.