View Full Version : Free feeding vs scheduled feeding

Harley & Carley
13th March 2007, 11:03 PM
I my quest for looking for the food my dogs will eat, my mom suggested I try free feeding them. She has had 2 CKCS, currently has a Pekinese, and said that some of her dogs were gorgers, but otheres just "grazed" and she never was able to get them to do the "15 minute meal", so she just left food out for them.
Anyone in favor of this? Since mine appear to be very much "grazers", do you think it will affect their potty routine much?
Should I try it and see how it goes for a few weeks, adn just weigh them weekly at the vet in lieu of changing foods?

Cathy T
13th March 2007, 11:16 PM
No way I could free feed at my house...both of mine are chow hounds and would literally kill each other for the other one's food. They both eat in their own crates because they get so weird about their food. I can take it from them but they can't be next to each other. I also like on a scheduled feeding I know who is eating how much.

Harley & Carley
13th March 2007, 11:18 PM
Mine are just the opposite though - do you think it might work?

14th March 2007, 01:20 AM
I personally wouldn't free feed a cavalier/dog.

Monitoring food intake is important for weight and overall health.
You may find something is wrong with one of your bubs in the very early stages if they go off their food where as with free feeding especially two it may not be till they actually drop weight that you would realise.

It also makes toileting easier when you don't free feed ( I think).

Can't think of any other intelligent reasons right now but I guess they are all different and you have to bear that in mind when considering how to feed. I would just love mine to chew there food instead of inhaling it.
I have no factual evidence but I do think free feeding makes dogs more picky ?

14th March 2007, 02:18 AM
Hmmm, everything I've ever read seems to say that this is generally not a good idea for dogs, and particularly not Cavaliers (you might wind up with a "gorger" even if you don't have one now). Beyond that, my own preference is to know exactly when and how much each of them has eaten so that if they get some kind of an upset--at either end--I will know what's what. And I do think that it's as important to know when one of them is NOT eating ASAP, rather than waiting to notice a drop in weight. I like to know every day that they are eating as I think they should.

It has definitely been my experience, as a dog owner over the years, that a regular feeding schedule keeps their toileting on a predictable schedule, which is probably good for them as well as being helpful for you.

What are you feeding them, and do they like it?

14th March 2007, 04:44 AM
Zack is not strongly food-minded as some dogs are. He does like special foods, but he's never been a dog to sniff your hands looking for food even when you were just giving him a treat a minute before. He forgets.

I have always free-fed my dogs and my cat long before i had Zack. I never knew there was a name for it.

Zack is the first pet i've ever had who showed disinterest in his kibble, but t his may be because i've been more "into" him in a maternal kind of way. with my other dogs it was like we were pals. zack is like my child, and as with my daughter, i'm more thinking in terms of minute details of his life.

He wasn't interested in his kibble and i wanted him to love it so i could feel good that he enjoyed his food. I read about "not free feeding," and taking up the bowl if he didn't eat after 10 minutes or so, and that he would eventually figure out that in order to not go hungry, he would have to eat it when i put it down there.

This system did not work for me simply because i couldn't remember to take the food up. I guess i've been leaving it down so long for so many pets without any problems that i can't make it important enough to remember. I meant to pick it up and hours later, i'd see it sitting on the floor and I'd think, "Oops."

But I found that even though i left it down, Zack never grazed. He would leave it there for hours, and then he'd get hungry, and he'd eat it all at one time.

I knew how much he was eating because i knew how much i was putting in the bowl.

I knew if he was off his food because he wouldn't eat it at all, and he'd act not his usual chipper self. I would know if he had diarrhea because he mostly poops in the backyard and i clean it up frequently throughout the day.

I now i have two cavaliers, my daughter's belle has been living with us since late January. She was also a free fed dog who was not particularly interested in her kibble, and she was quite thin, she went way in at the waste and she didn't weigh too much.

When she moved in it got harder to know who was eating what and how much.

Those two are not at all uptight about eating together. I have always put down two bowls with the same amount in them, and the food would just sit there because neither one much cared about it. Then, later, I'd hear "crunch, crunch, crunch," and i'd look and they would both be eating, and they would take turns at one bowl until it was empty, and then together they would move on to the other bowl. One would take a bite of kibble and carry it over to the carpet to eat it off the floor, and then the other would do the same and they would alternate.

Lately though I've noticed that they each will stand at a separate bowl and eat beside each other until their food is gone. There continues to be variability in their patterns though. Sometimes they still take bites and put it on the floor and then eat it from there. They don't seem to notice each other's presence, at least not in a way where they are upset. They seem to enjoy being together. They were both lonely only children until belle moved in here, although they each have a cat sister.

Zack was at what i considered to be a maximum size for his frame, so i am feeding reduced fat EVO, even though Belle, as I said, was quite thin, and possibly a little too thin. Belle may be eating more than Zack because as Lisa said the other day, "Belle you are getting a bit chunky." She's still svelte and goes in at the waste but she's filled out a little in what i believe is a good way. Zack's size stays constant, or possibly he goes down a little, which he can afford to, but basically he stays the same.

If there was any sign of becoming overweight, i would reduce the portion sizes. I'm glad i haven't had this problem, of one needing to reduce and the other not.

14th March 2007, 05:33 AM
I am not in favour of free feeding and with 4 dogs in the house I'd end up with one or two fatties & a couple of skinnies.

I also think it encourages picky eating; you don't have control or the knowledge of how much is being consumed; you will be leaving food out to spoil & attract rats & roaches.

14th March 2007, 12:07 PM
Vets will say NEVER to free feed, and especially not a cavalier -- they are one of a handful of breeds very prone to overeating and hence obesity. My vets have a poster up of the breeds that are most prone to obesity -- about 6 -- and this includes cavaliers, also the 'poster dog' for obesity on the front of Royal Canin's 'lite' dogfood!!

Cavaliers are possibily the breed that will suffer the MOST from obesity because of the incidence of MVD. Every extra pound of flesh on an animal requires about 2 MILES of extra blood vessels to support it. The heart has to work that much harder to circulate blood through those extra miles of blood system. Nearly ALL cavaliers have at least one heart valve 'hinge' that will start to give out at an earlier age than would be normal. If that hinge has to open and close more frequently and work harder to pump more blood through your dog -- that hinge will give out sooner, just as a door open and closed all the time will give out faster than one used moderately.

Why set your dog up for a shorter life?

In my experience most people fail to realise their dogs are overweight and do not understand a good weright in a dog. If you want to see dogs in good weight, go to a dog show. Most of us will probably find our dogs are considerably fatter.

Another problem with free feeding is that -- especially with multiple animals -- it makes it very hard to assess how much each eats, whether each is eating normally, whether one is off his or her food. And, it can be problematical at kennels where bowls usually are not just left out all day for dogs and where there can be hygiene problems if this is done.

I free feed my cats however -- but this is not recommended by my vets either for all the above reasons. One of my four cats is overweight now as well as a result -- which happened gradually -- so I will likely have to shift them all to set meals.

14th March 2007, 12:38 PM
I free feed my dogs. Not one of them is overweight. Not one of them gorges. Not one of them is food aggressive. Obviously you have to be aware of weight and gorging, but I definitely don't think it will shorten your dogs life if he doesn't over eat. The way I see it, I would feed the dogs the same amount but this way I am not making them cram it down in 15 minutes. :shock: I know exactly how much they are eating every day and there are not rats or roaches in my house. The food is definitely consumed before it spoils. Do what is right for your dog. :flwr:

Barbara Nixon
14th March 2007, 01:36 PM
I used to free feed when I had just Izzy and Monty. They didn't get overweight and nearly always left something. Thye would never approach a bowl and gobble the lot, unless it contained a special treat like chicken.

However, as Joly and Teddy joined us, both proved to be greedy, so now there is a fixed dinner time and always Teddy and Joly, if I can't supervise continually, are crate fed. Besides stopping theft, it means that Izzy. always a slow eater, can take his time.

14th March 2007, 01:54 PM
to be honest i agree with both ways, depending on your own dog i think. i started with the 15 min rule to get him to realise that he didnt get a choice in what he was eating. now when i leave my food down and he doesnt eat...well he doesnt get any treats either as he will still have his food..but he will normally have it during the morning sometime. either after a very energetic walk or he suddenly realises that he is hungry. what ever the reason. what is left is there next time.(if any is left!!!) i weigh my food every day so he will only eat his daily amount, less if he does eat first thing as i know he will be given treats during the day too. these are denied until i think he has eaten a suiteable amount during the day as this is his staple diet. not the treats. some days he will eat straight away, somedays he wont. he goes on his walks regularly and still poos regularly. i did have to take his food up after 15minutes as he was such a fussy eater he would hold out for something else and had to be taught that that was what you got. but now i think its just like me. sometimes i get hungry for breakfast, sometimes i skip it and have brunch etc. i moderate myself take excersise and have a little of what i fancy and dont over do the rubbish intake, sometimes i will treat myself and then cut back on something else. i know he isnt human, but even though its not a structured daily breakfast dinner tea on some days, most days it is. most days he will eat as routine but if he doesnt then i will leave it so he knows nothing else is coming. he doesnt usually go more than a couple of hours before giving in anyway. but i think the initial training to eat does help.

Harley & Carley
14th March 2007, 02:13 PM
thanks for the responses. they just wont eat in their crates any longer and when i put the food out in the kitchen, they are just not interested in it right away. this morning the food sat out for about 30 minutes before they even touched it. they ate a little, then played. then we went for a walk and they ate a little more after the walk. it has been out for 2 hours and they are just about done with the measured amount the one puppy should get for the day - so, divided by 2, they have eaten about the normal amount. I have been in the room the whole time, and there has been fairly equal eating, and no fussing.
they do better if i put the food directly on the floor (I have not idea what that means - but it worked).
they are off to the vet today to get weighed to make sure they are still gaining weight.

14th March 2007, 05:21 PM
funny that about eating on the floor. my brother said he had seen a program that said that dogs should never be fed out of a bowl but on a tea towl on the floor because of such and such i cant remember. i havent tried it as jadan is bad enough without that extra bit of fuss icon_whistling ;) something about bowls smelling or bacteria. :?

Barbara Nixon
14th March 2007, 05:44 PM
I've just reread your original post and realised that your dogs are only 7 months old. If you give them more than one meal, they may be telling you that they prefer less meals.

When I had to stop free feeding Izzy, as Joly came along, I had to adjust feeding time to early evening , because he preferd that to lunchtime. In a discussion, among cavalier people, some time ago, many said that their dogs preferd evening feeding, with a small snack in the morning.

Perheps your would like a time change.

I my quest for looking for the food my dogs will eat, my mom suggested I try free feeding them. She has had 2 CKCS, currently has a Pekinese, and said that some of her dogs were gorgers, but otheres just "grazed" and she never was able to get them to do the "15 minute meal", so she just left food out for them.
Anyone in favor of this? Since mine appear to be very much "grazers", do you think it will affect their potty routine much?
Should I try it and see how it goes for a few weeks, adn just weigh them weekly at the vet in lieu of changing foods?

15th March 2007, 03:01 AM
I am one to definetley stick to the 15 minute rule.

I went through h$#ll and back with fussy eating from Dudley no more. :D :D :D :D