Why Does My Dog Only Eat at Night? Is This Healthy?

Your dog is only eating at night because of habit. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, especially with meals. The more you allow your dog to eat at night, the stronger that habit will become. If you want your dog to eat in the morning, slowly feed them an hour earlier each day. Don’t jump straight from nighttime feedings to morning feedings without a gradual process.

We are often asked about the timing of meals for dogs. Should they eat in the morning? At night? How many meals should they eat per day?

Although we recommend two meals per day, there’s no right or wrong answer to any of those questions. As the owner, you need to remember that dogs will adapt to whatever habit you set for them. If you feed them in the morning, they’ll expect food each morning. If you feed them at night, they’ll expect food each night.

Now that we’ve covered why your dog only eats at night, let’s go into more detail and talk about whether or not this is ok.

Is it Ok For My Dog to Only Eat at Night?

When your dog only eats at night, the first question that’s likely to pop into your mind is whether this is healthy.

We, as humans, eat three times per day, sometimes more. So the thought of only having one meal per day sounds “cruel.”

The answer to that question is, it depends. We highly recommend feeding your dog twice per day, but if your dog refuses to eat a morning meal and only wants to eat at night, don’t force them to eat in the morning.

Although most dogs prefer multiple meals per day, some dogs prefer just one. Give your dog the option to eat a small meal in the morning. If they don’t eat the meal, don’t be concerned about it.

Is It Better To Feed The Dog in The Morning Or at Night?

If your dog will only eat one meal, you’re probably wondering if it’s better to feed them in the morning or at night.

Ultimately, this decision is up to you. Whatever comes naturally for your dog should influence your decision. In this case, nighttime eating would be the answer.

However, your daily schedule is a factor that must be taken into consideration. Your daily routine likely dictates what time of day to feed your dog.

If you work the night shift, the best time to feed your dog is at night before leaving for work. If you work all day, the best time to feed your dog would be in the morning before heading into your 9-5.

Think through these scenarios to determine what is best for your dog based on your daily schedule.

Is It Ok To Leave Food Out All Day For My Dog?

If your dog is only eating at night, you might be tempted to leave food out all day for them and let them free feed at their will.

There are conflicting views on free feeding. The biggest concern for most dog owners is their dog overeating. On the other hand, if your dog is only eating at night, they will probably just nibble the food throughout the day, then eat the remaining in the evening.

Although free-feeding is convenient for you, it may not be the best thing for your dog’s health. The best way to determine if it is wise for you to leave your dog’s food out all day is to monitor your dog’s eating habits.

Try one week of free feeding and monitor your dog’s eating habits. Although your dog is only eating at night, it is likely out of habit. After a few days of having the option to eat whenever they want, you might notice your dog starting to eat more frequently.

The downside to this approach is that some dogs may not control their eating and end up overeating. If you notice weight gain, this is a sign that leaving food out may not be the best decision.

There are quite a few things to consider when it comes to free feeding. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons. It could be a great way to prevent your dog from only eating at night. But it can also cause rapid weight gain.

Getting Your Dog To Eat in The Morning AND at Night

If your dog only eats at night and you’d like to get them to eat two meals per day instead of one, you must slowly change their eating habits.

Here are a few things you can do to get your dog to eat multiple meals per day.

Portion Control

Although this might sound cruel at first, try feeding your dog half a portion at night. If you usually give them one cup of food, only give them half a cup.

As previously stated, dogs are creatures of habit and know exactly when to expect their meals…but they also know HOW MUCH to expect.

They might not be eating in the morning because they don’t have an appetite. If you cut their meal size in half, their appetite should be there in the morning. Begin feeding them half their meal at night and then half in the morning.

A quick word of warning…it might take a few days for this method to work. However, if you’ve cut their evening meal in half and they still won’t eat their morning meal after a full week, don’t continue with this method. Go back to one larger meal each night to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need.

The Gradual Change

If the portion control method didn’t work, go back to feeding your dog one full meal per day, but slowly move the meal up by 30 minutes every few days.

For example, if you normally feed your dog at 9 pm, move the meal up to 8:30 for the next few days. After three to four days of eating at 8:30, move the meal to 8:00, and so on.

It may take a few weeks to reach morning hours, but if you slowly move the meals up by 30 minutes every few days, you’ll give your dog time to gradually change their habit.

Free-Feeding

We spent some time going over the pros and cons of free-feeding because it can be used as one of the methods to change your dog’s eating habits.

Leave food out all day for your dog for at least one or two weeks. Most night time eaters won’t touch the food during the day because that’s not part of their routine. However, after having a few days with the option to eat during the day, they may nibble on the food throughout the day. Eventually, the nibbling may turn into eating a full meal before nighttime rolls around.

Eating At Night Shouldn’t Be a Concern

Now that you know how to change your dog’s eating habits, the question becomes whether you should.

From a health perspective, there’s nothing wrong with your dog eating one meal per day at night. Unless this habit is inconvenient for your schedule, there’s no need to make any changes.

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