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Any problem with “free feeding” your dog?

Corrie
May 23rd, 2006, 10:17 AM
Does anyone have any problems with “free feeding” their dog? When my little Westie was a pup I fed her at scheduled times…to regulate and time her potty outings, but when she turned one year old I simply started leaving her food down all the time. She comes and nibbles one or two pieces of food during the day and then walks away and seems quite happy with this. She has no weight problems at all.

We went to the Vet last week and he suggested that dogs who are “free fed” will often develop a finicky appetite in later years and he felt that I will come to regret my “free feed” routine and he feels I should switch her back to a feeding time(s) asap.

I have googled around and have read some different opinions, so I thought I would come and ask you experts. Some few sites say that “free feeding”, if you can do it, is the better for your dog as the intestines get used a little all during the day, rather than a big influx one or two times a day.

What is your opinion?

Kayla1984
May 23rd, 2006, 10:49 AM
I only feed two times a day. Once when we all wake up and once in the evening.

SarahLynn123
May 23rd, 2006, 11:13 AM
I wish I could free feed, two of my dogs would just eat when they are hungary, my GSD on the other hand doesn't know when to stop eating, so my dogs are fed three times a day. The two that could be free fed though never, ever finish their daily limit.

Prin
May 23rd, 2006, 12:06 PM
The only trouble with free feeding is the possibility of becoming overweight. I've never heard of a dog getting pickier with free feeding... Pickiness comes with constant food changes and being catered to, IMO.

Rottielover
May 23rd, 2006, 12:21 PM
also with free feeding you can not regulate bowel movements, and could come home to a mess

Lucky Rescue
May 23rd, 2006, 12:31 PM
Free fed dogs CAN become very picky and fussy, for the simple reason that they never get really hungry.

Some few sites say that “free feeding”, if you can do it, is the better for your dog as the intestines get used a little all during the day, rather than a big influx one or two times a day.


Canines in nature are equipped to eat very large amounts at one time after a kill, and then may go hungry for many days, so that argument doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

But if your dog is doing well, not picky, and not overeating, then there's no problem.:)

Rottielover
May 23rd, 2006, 12:42 PM
also I want to add I believe free feeding can be dangerous, especially for deep chested dogs like rottweilers, danes, and shepherds. You are not home all the time to supervise. What happens if they get bloat. Your dog would be dead before you even know what happened. I totally disagree with free feeding for many reasons. That being the primary

BusterBoo
May 23rd, 2006, 02:01 PM
My 4 yr old tzu has been free fed since he was about 6 months old. He eats a bit in the morning (after his toast and peanut butter) and then after we finish dinner he will go to his dish and eat his hard food (once he is sure that he won't be gettinbg any table scraps.) He is regular on the potty issue.....goes out after toast and peanut butter and then goes out before dinner, when we get home from work. He has always been this way, no accidents - no overweight - no picky eater.

I have done this will all my dogs and it works for us. I don't know if it makes a difference that all my dogs are small lap dogs (tzus, poodles, llasa apso etc).

Daizy
May 23rd, 2006, 02:06 PM
I free feed both my poodles, both are not overweight and they don't eat it all either - they stop when they are full. Daisy my (almost two years old poodle) is fussy but that's my fault not her's as I introduced her to human food! The youngest who is 4 months - now she knows that there is always food doesn't guzzle it all down and is definatly not fussy.

Writing4Fun
May 23rd, 2006, 02:22 PM
I free feed Phoebe. She's not overweight. I give her the daily allotment in the morning, and she usually waits until after we've had our dinner before she eats hers. I don't refill her bowl until the morning, so if she finishes her food before dinner time, she doesn't get any more. Our previous dog was also free fed, and she never became a picky eater. I think it depends on the dog. If your dog is a gulper, is overweight (so you need to monitor the food intake more closely), has food agression issues, or if you're not there to supervise (in cases where bloat is a concern), then don't free feed. Otherwise, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. ;)

glasslass
May 23rd, 2006, 02:36 PM
I free fed each of the 3 poodles that I had before my current one. They all did very well. Sometimes it was really comical because when they would grab a bite to eat, they literally grabbed a bite and jumped back & forth at it and played with it before eating it. Sometimes, they would grab a piece on a dead run past the bowl. They never had weight problems. I also started free feeding Den-Den when he was a pup. It seemed to be the way they all wanted to eat. Small amounts at a time. But it became a problem when we got Corky. Whenever my mom would come over with Corky, Den-Den would rush to his bowl and eat the whole thing to keep Corky from getting any. I worried that eating that much dry food in one sitting wasn't good. Now they have regular mealtimes and moist food. We set down Den-Den's dish first, and then Corky's a few feet away. Den-Den is dominant and bigger and they seem to accept this.

phoenix
May 23rd, 2006, 04:25 PM
I free feed Phoebe. She's not overweight. I give her the daily allotment in the morning, and she usually waits until after we've had our dinner before she eats hers. I don't refill her bowl until the morning, so if she finishes her food before dinner time, she doesn't get any more. ;)
Is this freefeeding?
I thought free feeding was the dog could have as much as s/he wanted. All of our dogs on the farm were fed like this; there was always kibble out and they ate or not as they wished. They ate more in winter than summer.They did tend to get overweight as seniors but as long as they were working/running, it seemed to work fine and they were never picky. (thank goodness; it was not good quality food!)
My dogs at home now eat two meals a day. They certainly know when it is feeding time.

Writing4Fun
May 23rd, 2006, 04:55 PM
Is this freefeeding?
I thought free feeding was the dog could have as much as s/he wanted. :) The technical definition probably means that food is always available. I guess I'm kind of mixing-and-matching my approach. Scheduled because she gets a set amount of food every day, free fed because I don't take it up after 15 minutes/half an hour; the food is available to her all day long.

kaytris
May 23rd, 2006, 06:28 PM
I used to free feed my older girl when I just had one dog - but that had to stop when I got the hoover-pup, Tristan.

The big problem I have with free feeding is never knowing when a dog's appetite is off.

LM1313
May 23rd, 2006, 06:32 PM
It depends on the dog. Ebony was freefed and wasn't overweight. If she'd been extremely food-oriented, it wouldn't have worked, but she only ate when she was hungry, so free-feeding worked great. We just added more food whenever her bowl was getting low. The time she was most likely to eat was when people were eating . . . She'd take a mouthful of dog food out to wherever the people were, drop it on the floor, and eat with the family. :D

Puppyluv
May 23rd, 2006, 06:52 PM
My best friend's cocker was free fed, she got two "meals" put down, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, and she could eat is as she pleased. She did really well with it, she almost always ate her daily allotment, and she was a good weight and had a good energy. This was true until she was about 8, when she stopped finishing her allotments. (She wouldn't even eat half of her total food) She became really finicky over her food and they found it impossible to get her to eat as much as she should.
So yes, free feeding can lead to finicky eaters.

Bushfire2000
May 23rd, 2006, 09:25 PM
I free feed my crew and it works realy well for us.
Mavis's food is seperate from the little guys though.
The little ones share a dish with little or no problems. And noone is over weight.
It did mean that Lacey got more than her share of puppy food because I wouldn't buy two kinds of food when Buster and Cocoa came along. They all got puppy food for as long as the youngest puppy needed it.

pamha
May 23rd, 2006, 09:55 PM
We`ve always free-fed our chowX girls. Maggie is 14 years, Lola is 17 months, and neither has become picky, although some days they eat more or less than usual. I generally fill the bowls in the evening, but if they are empty earlier than usual I`ll fill them up. Neither has a weight problem or food aggression issues. They get the same food now that Lola is off puppy food.
IMO as long as your dog is good at self-regulating how much she eats, whatever feeding regimen works best for you is what you should go with.

Sneaky
May 24th, 2006, 02:34 AM
My Chihuahua and both my cats free feed.
I fill the bowl up every 3rd day.
None of my pets have any trouble with this,
all are in great health and shape.

Lise
May 26th, 2006, 07:41 AM
My guys are fed twice a day now since they are getting efa added to food,but they are usually free fed.They never gained or became picky whichever way they were fed.So I think both methods are fine depending on which works best for your dog and you.I could be wrong about this,but I thought that bloat usually happened with dogs who were fed two large meals and tended to eat fast,wouldn't allowing a dog free access help that?

DRN
May 29th, 2006, 01:46 PM
I've had dogs all my life including 5 cocker spaniels in the past 20 years. All our dogs were free-fed, even as puppies. It always seemed to me that free-feeding helps them maintain a normal weight because they only eat when they are hungry. Further, we never have problems with fighting over food. The only problem I've had occurred when feeding puppy food and dog food at the same time. Invariably, the dog wants the puppy food and the puppy wants the dog food. Finally, I can't say for sure whether dogs get more picky when they are free-fed but I suspect free-fed dogs eat less as they get older because, just like humans, they don't need as much food as they become less active.

Of course, it makes sense to me that not all breeds can tolerate free-feeding. I suspect that the smaller breeds that are companion animals would tolerate it better than larger breeds.

Prin
May 29th, 2006, 10:09 PM
It always seemed to me that free-feeding helps them maintain a normal weight because they only eat when they are hungry.That's the key to being able to free-feed: you need a dog who stops eating when they aren't hungry. So far, I have only had a couple of dogs who could have been able to stop. My old yellow lab ate 18kg of food in one shot (she broke into the cupboard and ate a whole new bag of food). 18kg!!! We thought she was going to die (but she didn't...).

glasslass
May 29th, 2006, 10:39 PM
Den-Den used to go all day without eating. He'd wait to see what treats and hand-outs he'd get. After we went to bed, he'd go into the kitchen and we'd hear him munching and crunching. Then, he'd come to bed too after he'd eaten what he wanted.