Depending on their breed, size, age, and health, their particular food choices may be different, depending on what you should eat them, and how much.
But how often does it matter if an individual is surveyed over 10,000 dogs? A new research reveals some intriguing insights into the relationship between feeding frequency and canine health, and the key factor is definitely eating.
According to the study, adult dogs that are fed only once per day tend to score significantly better in terms of health, comparative to dogs who are fed more often.
"We found that dogs fed once daily rather than more frequently had lower mean scores on a cognitive dysfunction scale, and decreased chances of having gastrointestinal, dental, orthopedic, kidney/urinary, and liver/pancreas disorders," said the research team, led by Emily Bray from the University of Arizona, who studied clinical medicine.
The results were gleaned from data collected by a large, ongoing canine health study called the Dog Aging Project.
While you shouldn''t rush out and modify your feeding routine just yet, the findings suggest that time-restricted eating, which was previously seen in laboratory experiments, might also be beneficial to companion dogs.
Even the scientists who are doing research, the results aren''t much of a surprise.
"We were not certain at all that we might see any differences in dogs'' health or cognition based on feeding frequency," explained Kathleen Kerr, a senior author and biostatist from the University of Washington, back when the preliminary findings were announced in December.
"I think we''d have been so excited to see an association between feeding frequency and health in one area. I was amazed to see associations in so many situations."
While a feeding frequency of one meal per day was linked to better results for dogs in some areas, it wasn''t as clear in other areas. Measurements for disease risk in terms of cardiac, skin, and neurological health, as well as cancer incidence, did not show statistically significant effects.
The researchers acknowledge a number of limitations to keep an eye on in their study. All feeding data was self-reported by dog owners, implying it was subject to errors in their recollection and interpretation, and the study was not able to discern the possibility of caloric restriction (which was not measured in the study) from feeding frequency.
Despite the limitations, the research claims that it is the highest level to date of feeding frequency in companion dogs, and there''s clearly something about this point, which suggests that feeding your dog only once per day has an effect on their health.
It remains unknown what exactly the answer is, and the researchers claim that the results only show an association, and that they do not demonstrate causality, thus we must not conclude that less feeding actually leads to improved health in dogs.
As Bray suggests, dogs with poor health might be fed more frequently than healthy dogs (being fed extra meals to take medication, for example).
As long as more information is given about this apparent phenomenon, and future research may, in turn, explain the results further nobody should modify how often their dog is fed based on this one study.
"However, if supported by future research, it might be prudent to revisit the currently predominant recommendation that adult dogs be fed twice daily," the team says.
"The reason for twice-daily feeding in dogs is obscure, and our research suggests that frequent feeding might, in fact, be suboptimal for several age-related health outcomes."
GeroScience has collected their findings.