How to create a meal routine for your pup

Curly haired dog standing next to dog bowl

When trying to manage our eating habits, we all know that setting up a positive, simple routine makes life easier. When it comes to your pup, it’s no different. A mealtime routine for your pup will ensure they are eating fresh, healthy food, and at the right times.

Why is a meal routine important?

  • Dogs are creatures of habit. Having a meal routine will assist them in feeling confident and comfortable in their daily lives. This can be especially useful if you have someone else caring for your pet while you travel, for example. Your pup will take comfort in their routine.

  • Dogs usually need to go to the bathroom after meals. For puppies, this may be 15-20 minutes after eating. Having a meal routine can establish patterns, helping with toilet training.

  • More research is emerging about how eating times can affect digestion and ultimately impact behaviour via the gut-brain axis. Learn more about this fascinating topic via our in-house vet, Dr Matthew Muir on the ‘Pure animal’ podcast.

How often should my dog eat?

  • While most adult dogs feed between 1-2 times a day, it will depend on their age, breed and any health conditions. For example, a dog with liver, kidney and gut issues, may require 3 meals a day – this would be decided on with the guidance of a vet.

  • Puppies may need to eat more frequently than adult dogs, usually 3 times a day until they reach 50% of their expected adult weight. If your dog takes medication, you may need to work your meals around medication requirements.

  • Some dogs can’t go more than 12 hours between meals as it can cause their stomach to become hyper acidic, causing nausea. Other dogs thrive on eating just once a day and fasting intermittently. If you feed your pet once a day and they have nausea or reflux issues, consider feeding them twice a day.

  • Top tip! No matter how many times you feed your dog, stick to their daily recommended serving size to keep them at a healthy weight.

How can I set a meal routine?

  • The easiest way to set up a routine is to select feeding times and commit to it. Your dog’s circadian rhythm will adjust to the times you have chosen. Try to keep the location of their feeding bowls in the same place to reinforce the routine.

  • Keep bathroom breaks around the same time after each meal (e.g., 15 minutes after they have eaten) to incorporate it in their routine.

  • Avoid free feeding. If your dog doesn’t eat their meals immediately, or grazes, leave their food out for a maximum of 15 minutes before packing it away. You can try to feed them again a few hours later.

  • If you need to incorporate behavioural enrichment, you may need to revise meal routines. This is best discussed with a dog behaviourist.

  • Try not to feed your dog within 3 hours of bedtime. There needs to be enough time for food to be properly digested. This is especially important for dogs that experience acid reflux.

  • Avoid overfeeding your pup by not giving in every time they want snacks. Opt for healthy treats between meals including fresh fruit or veggies, or a preservative-free, nitrate-free healthy treat.

Ready to get your pup’s mealtime routine underway? With fresh, healthy meals delivered with separate pouches for your dog’s daily portions, Lyka is a great way to keep your dog healthy while taking out the hassle of food prep. Our Customer Care team is always on hand to give you tips on feeding, so feel free to send them an email if you have any questions.

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