It’s 10 PM, and your puppy has been pawing you, asking for food. Even knowing they’ve already had their supper, you still can’t resist their puppy eyes.
Does it matter if your dog eats late at night?
Yes. Eating late at night can affect your dog’s routine, health, and even your personal schedule.
But I’m here to show you the right time to feed your dog at night. Learn the latest on when you should feed your dog and why you shouldn’t feed your dog before bedtime.
What Time Should I Feed My Dog at Night?
Feed your dog three hours before they sleep. That means if their bedtime is 9 PM, they should start eating dinner at 6 PM.
Note that this recommendation is only an estimate. Many factors determine what time you should feed your dog at night.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
When Your Dog Last Ate
Suppose your dog had a heavy snack at 4 PM because of a tiring swimming lesson. They might not be hungry yet at 6 PM, even if their bedtime is 9 PM.
In this case, you need to wait a few more hours before your dog is hungry again. Otherwise, they won’t be able to finish their dinner.
Dogs also tend to wake you up at night if they’re hungry because they didn’t finish their last meal.
But I do not recommend giving your dog large snacks between meals because it can ruin their mealtime routine. And dogs thrive on routines.
I also do not recommend ruining their feeding routine by skipping meals.
Dogs can get sick when left alone for several hours without food. Find out how long a dog can live without food.
Even if you plan on giving your dog a large meal later, it won’t compensate for the distress they may feel.
Your Dog’s Age
The time and frequency of your dog’s meal also depends on their age.
For example, puppies might need more than three small meals daily, usually from their mother’s milk.
After a few months, you can reduce their mealtime to three times a day and let your puppy eat dry dog food.
It’s up to you how to divide these mealtimes into the day. But make sure to establish a routine that is practical and sustainable.
If your dog eats three times a day, mealtimes can be at 7 AM, 12 PM, and 6 PM. That means their last meal is at 6 PM so that they can sleep at 9 PM.
You can give your dog small treats in between so they can avoid hunger. But make sure only to give treats during training sessions.
As your dog gets older they may not need to eat as often. Senior dogs who are less mobile and energetic won’t need to eat as much.
Check in with your vet regularly to ensure your dog is receiving adequate nutrition for their age.
Your Dog’s Breed and Size
Consider the size and breed of your dog when determining their meal time. This basic information will determine their energy levels, daily calorie needs, and feeding routine.
Some dogs with high energy levels require more food, but they might not enjoy eating two huge meals daily. So you need to divide their daily calorie count into three or four meals.
Some dog breeds that require more energy are Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Siberian Huskies.
Smaller dogs usually benefit more from multiple small meals a day. You can feed them four small meals every three hours from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Your Personal Schedule
Every dog owner should consider their personal schedule when determining their dog’s last meal at night.
You can adjust the routine according to your convenience as long as you don’t leave your furry friend starving. For example, if you come home late from work, you may feed them at 8 or 9 PM.
But make sure they do not go to bed immediately since it could cause indigestion.
Feeding them a few hours earlier or later won’t hurt if you’re a fur parent on call. What matters is you establish a sustainable and regular feeding schedule that both of you can get used to.
And don’t forget to leave your dog a fresh bowl of water to keep them hydrated and satiated when you’re away.
Your Dog’s Individual Habits
The last thing to remember when determining the time of your dog’s dinner is their individual habits.
Some dogs who regularly eat three times a day do not need to eat late at night. Their last meal can be at 5 or 6 PM, and they won’t get hungry.
Helping your dog stick to a routine also aids in their digestion regulation. They will learn not to get hungry past 7 PM as they get used to their mealtime schedules.
But if you have a dog who’s never full, they might not like the idea of not eating beyond 7 PM. There are a few ways to solve this.
- Try spreading your dog’s mealtime schedule throughout many hours, maybe from 7 AM until 10 PM. You can give them a small last meal before bedtime to keep them satisfied throughout the night.
- You can stick to the usual feeding schedule and just leave your dog with a bowl of food to eat overnight.
- Give your dog several meals a day and slowly reduce it until they’re used to the typical schedule.
Some dogs do not like eating at night. It’s either they’re full or waiting for your leftovers. They know they will get your leftover chicken at 7 PM, so they won’t bother eating their kibble at 6 PM.
You can adjust their last meal of the day, mix their dinner with your leftovers, or avoid giving them scraps.
What is the Latest I Should Feed My Dog at Night?
The best time for your dog’s last meal of the day is three hours before bedtime.
But if this interval seems impossible for you, at least one hour and thirty minutes will do. That means if your dog sleeps at 9 PM, their feeding time at night should be 6 and 7:30 PM.
Your dog might experience indigestion or acid reflux when they sleep right after eating. Indigestion could cause muscle twitching, bowel inflammation, and heartburn.
It usually occurs when increased pressure on the esophagus causes the food to go up.
Prevent your dog from sleeping after dinner by taking them out. Give them time to poop, pee, and explore their surroundings.
But don’t let them run around the yard. Too much movement after eating can cause an upset or twisted stomach.
Should I Feed My Dog Early or Late?
It’s better to feed your dog early in the night to enable proper digestion before they sleep.
Feeding your dog at 5, 6, or 7 PM gives your dog’s stomach enough time to properly digest the food before they sleep.
But if there’s no way to feed your dog early, it’s OK to let them eat late. This is much better than not letting them eat at all in the evening.
The only advantage to letting your dog eat late at night is they won’t starve in the morning. They are less likely to wake you up at midnight looking for food.
Check out this video below to learn how often you should feed your dog.
Is it Okay to Feed a Dog Before Bed?
No, you should never feed your dog before bedtime because it might cause indigestion when they sleep, or they might want to poop in the middle of the night.
If your dog wakes you up late at night, they might need a bathroom break due to the late dinner a few hours ago.
Even if you took your dog out before bedtime, there’s still a big chance they didn’t let everything out yet.
This situation can be annoying if they cry, whine, or move around energetically. It’s also not ideal for fur parents who need enough sleep to wake up early the next day.
Your dog might also feel tired the next day after a late dinner because they have to wait a long time to get their meal again. Or they already burned all their excessive energy last night through anxiety and restlessness.
Another reason not to feed your dog before bedtime or at midnight is that it can cause weight gain.
Dogs have limited ways to burn their excess energy from a midnight snack. This stored energy can get converted into fat and make them overweight.
As they get used to mealtimes before bed, the habit will be more challenging to break. And before you know it, your dog will be obese which can put their health at risk.
Can I Feed My Dog Dog Food Every Day?
No, if you are buying commercial dog food that contains additives and chemicals these are unhealthy for your dog.
Yes, if you are buying dog food with nutritious whole food ingredients you can feed your dog these every day.
Chemicals and additives in dog food can damage their kidneys and liver in the long run. Some of them are even carcinogenic.
The best option is to consider homemade dog food, so your dog receives optimal nutrition regularly.
Find out whether dog food is bad for dogs. I also recommend an excellent book that will help you learn what to feed your dog.
What Can I Feed a Dog Who’s a Picky Eater?
A balanced diet that includes meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables will help a picky dog enjoy every meal time.
Like humans, dogs can get sick of the same food they eat three times a day and seven days a week.
But there are also cases where your dog isn’t picky. They might have an underlying health problem or have developed bad habits from eating your leftovers, eating several times a day, or consuming too many treats.
Here are some picky eater dog food ideas you should check out.
What Can I Feed My Dog Instead of Dog Food?
A lot of the food we eat is also OK for dogs to eat, including meat, eggs, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Many are afraid to try homemade dog foods because of potential allergies or the poison your dog might experience.
But all you have to do is research the human foods your dog can and cannot eat.
You also want to consider how to make every meal balanced. Some dog owners mix healthy commercial dog food with fresh food.
Here are some other delicious meal ideas for dogs aside from dog food.
Feed Your Dog at the Right Time
Many dog owners feed their dogs late at night because they come home late or their dog gets hungry before bedtime.
But it helps if you don’t let your dog have their dinner too late because it can ruin their routine or cause weight gain.
The best time to feed your dog dinner is around 6 to 8 PM. This will give them a few hours to digest their food before sleeping.
Another food issue many dog owners face is when your dog hates dog food. Find out how to get your dog to eat dog food again with our guide.