General Question

gailcalled's avatar

For dog owners, when do you switch your puppy from three to two meals/day?

Asked by gailcalled (54577points) April 1st, 2015

My sister’s pup is 9 months old, 40–45 lbs. and very high energy. She is part vizsla, part whippet, part greyhound, sleek, long-legged and a hunter.

Meals now are real home-cooked food (turkey soup, vegetables like broccoli) and kibble as a side-dish plus lots of training treats.

When you switch from three to two meals, do you serve the same amount in two portions or simply less food.

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

PS. Close to adult weight, as far as we know.

janbb's avatar

I would serve the same amount of food in two meals now. If the dog starts to gain too much weight, cut back on amount.

canidmajor's avatar

It’s kind of like with little kids, you just kind of know when to alter the feeding habits. Maybe when they’re not finishing everything at all meals. Another option is when the owner is ready for a switch in routine and the puppy is not particularly distressed.

I can’t address the details, sorry, as all my puppies were free feeders, and regulated themselves very efficiently.

longgone's avatar

Wow, what a combination of breeds. That’s quite a challenge, I’ll bet.

Because the dog is close to adult weight, switching to two meals should be fine. Regarding portion sizes…unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule. An adult dog should eat enough to maintain his weight. If there is a chance that the pup is still growing, I’d keep portion sizes the same for now. Once she’s reached her adult size, you can experiment. If she keeps her weight with smaller portions, all is well.

Obligatory, unsolicited, and free advice: With the prey drive I’d expect of this breed combination, I would not feed from a bowl much. If at all. Instead, I would buy two things. A preydummy – like this one, and a lunging whip. In dog training, the latter is called “flirt pole”.

By tying the dummy (the food source) to the whip, it can come alive. Done right, dogs can learn that their humans are hunting partners instead of obstacles. They can be taught to freeze, sit, or lie down on cue while in the chase. Very handy. Here’s what this can look like.

I’ve seen preydummies be accepted as a hunting alternative in older dogs, but starting with a young dog is optimal. With a bit of luck, a young dog will learn to love his dummy as much as he loves the chase. There are even rabbit scents available, to make chasing the dummy even more authentic.

marinelife's avatar

I feed by weight of the dog.

Week 14 or about three and half months is when they go down to two meals.

kritiper's avatar

Keep food in the bowl at all times, let them eat their fill. I fed my dog Purina Puppy Chow twice a day for one year before going to adult Purina. Always left food in his bowl.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

^Some say this can be bad for large breeds.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ As opposed to doing it how?

kritiper's avatar

It wasn’t bad for my German Shepherd. A very healthy 70 lbs., he lived to be almost 16!

canidmajor's avatar

@CugelTheClueless : It’s called “free feeding” and I’ve done it with four larger breed puppies with no ill effects, in fact they never got fat. It has worked well on all my cats as well.
I have also been told not to do it, by people who have read a bunch of stuff and never tried it. Obviously if the dog frantically gorges when it is fed, free feeding won’t work. If the puppy is comfortable knowing food will be available, it eats what it needs, no more.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

The stuff I read said there was a risk that large breed puppies would gain weight faster than their growing bones could support if they were given all they could eat. Maybe that advice was intended for the extra large breeds like St. Bernard or Great Dane; I don’t recall all the details. A friend of mine has a St. Bernard that is already 70 lbs and it’s not even 7 months old yet. It doesn’t sound like the OP’s dog is in this category, but owners of those breeds might want to know that there is debate on this point and do their own research.

@gailcalled as opposed to feeding the dog measured amounts based on weight guidelines.

canidmajor's avatar

Two of my free fed breeds were over 100 pounds in adulthood. This subject, like so many others is filled with “experts” who decide that one way is the only way. As with children, any pet animal needs monitored care. To declare that “one size fits all” is as stupid with animals as it is with children.

RocketGuy's avatar

When my dog was young, we fed him according to the package’s suggested amount, divided into 2 meals. Seemed he was always hungry. Then we had my brother-in-law dogsit while we went on vacation, and he accidentally gave my dog double meals for 5 days. On the last day, my dog stopped eating and my BIL called to tell us that something might be wrong with the dog. When we got home the dog could barely get out of his bed – his belly was distended from all the food he had eaten! It took a few days for him to digest all that food. That’s when he realized that food will always be available, so just eat until not hungry any more. Then we were able to free feed him.

longgone's avatar

On free-feeding: As there are plenty of humans who are unable to eat just enough, I am of the opinion that the same is true for dogs. Yes, it does work for some. And no, it does not work for all.

canidmajor's avatar

Humans, however, have much more social pressure to overeat than dogs do. Puppies who always have access to food without any overt emotional tie-ins, positive or negative, will likely self regulate on their intake.

syz's avatar

At that size and at that age, twice a day is fine. If they haven’t already, they should switch her from puppy to adult food.

Free choice feeding works for some animals, but she’s very likely to become overweight with time (especially as she matures and her metabolism slows). I’ve only been able to free-feed with one dog, and even he had to go to measured meals when he reached about 5 years of age.

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