Free Feeding vs. Scheduled Feeding for Your Pet

Feeding your pet at set times, rather than free-feeding, is healthier.

One of the more common questions presented by animal guardians is whether it is best to free feed their pets, rather than feeding at set times during a day. It is the strong opinion and feelings of this veterinarian that it is much healthier and preferable to feed their animal companions at set times during the day, usually at most twice to three times daily in most healthy adult pets. Free feeding in both dogs and cats has been linked with obesity, digestive tract problems, diabetes, as well as urinary problems in cats.

In the wild, dogs and cats are hunters, sometimes going days without eating. That is why in my practice I will even fast pets periodically to mimic the natural feeding conditions in the wild. In general, I find that pets who eat at set times a day and then have any remaining food picked up, in much better health with better functioning digestive tracts, as well as healthier coats and immune systems. Weights are maintained at a more optimal level and the best chance at longevity is achieved.

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  1. What about kittens? Should they be fed at 4 months on continuous diet ot regular feedings. I work varied schedule and its hard to feed every 4 hours. Also, have aged older cats in household 8,14,18 and they want the kittens wet or dry food. Any suggestions helpful.

  2. I’ve heard feeding your dog canned beans to help them loose weight (no dog food). Is that true and if so how much and number of weeks do you recommend?

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 25, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I have not heard of feeding beans to lose weight.

  4. I think it is good to feed pets 4 or 5 times a day. Otherwise obesity and other diseases like diabetics may appear. Thanks for sharing this informative article about pet feeding.

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