Some people can get into a routine of feeding their dogs late at night. Whilst this can seem like a harmless habit, it is not always beneficial or good for the dog. Sometimes, it can feel unavoidable, whether you finish work late, have other commitments, get busy, or if your dog seems to prefer to eat late in the night.
In this guide, we will discuss if it is bad to feed your dog late at night, and when the best time is to feed them. We will also give you 5 reasons why you should not feed your dogs late at night.
Although this can become a habit by accident, it is not a good idea to feed your dog late at night. This is largely due to the fact that it does not benefit the health of your dog, it can give them a bad daily routine, and will ruin both of your sleeping schedules.
Is it bad to feed a dog late at night?
Unfortunately, yes it is bad to feed your dog late at night. This is mainly due to the fact that they cannot have a normal routine. This is because your dog may be very hungry in the day, and therefore starved of an energy source too. This can make them lethargic, tired, bored and depressed if they are waiting on food all day.
On the other hand, they will have more energy to burn off at night once they have eaten. By going to bed straight after feeding, there is no way to burn off this energy, and so many dogs can become unhealthily overweight.
Reasons why you should never feed your dog before bed
There are a myriad of reasons why you should never feed your dog before bed, as this can be unhealthy for them, and leave them lacking a normal routine. Take a look at our five reasons why you should never feed your dog late at night.
May need the toilet
If you find that your dog is keeping you up late at night, or is asking to go outside for a bathroom break during the night, then this is most likely because you are feeding them too late.
By offering them food late in the evening, and leaving them to go to bed, they have no way of going to the bathroom. Without a way of getting outside, they may poop or pee in the home, or they may cry and whine to wake you up to let them out.
This is not good for your dog, or for your sleep schedule. Your dog should be able to rest during the night, and will not want to go outside in the middle of the night to defecate. Therefore, you are better off feeding them earlier, giving them time to digest the food, and letting them outside before going to bed.
Your dog may be lethargic during the day
If your dog has to wait all day to get a meal, then they are going a long time without food. Most dogs need food twice a day, once at breakfast in the morning, and once in the evening. If your dog is having to wait until late at night to get their evening meal, then they are going hours without any food or sustenance.
This can make them very tired, lethargic and lacking in energy. They may seem depressed, or unwilling to play, walk or exercise with you. Although feeding your dog late at night may fit in with your schedule, it does not fit in correctly with the dog’s, and they will need to have their food at an earlier and more appropriate time.
Excess energy to burn at night
In a similar way to the previous point, a dog that has gone all day without food will be very lethargic and sleepy. Then, when they finally get their evening meal, they will suddenly have an influx and a burst of energy ready to go.
They may then want to go for a walk, run around the house, or play with you. At that time during the night, you are most likely going to go to bed, and your dog will have no way of burning off that energy from its meal.
If you feed the dog late in the night, then they may be up for hours afterwards, unable to sleep or rest, and they may also keep you up too, which can have a knock on effect on the next day, or your daily routines.
Unless you are planning on giving them a lot of exercise after the meal, then it is not a good idea to feed them very late. In addition, you should always wait around 2 hours after a meal before walking your dogs, as they can have digestive issues, or even a twisted gut, which can be painful.
By feeding the dog late at night, or just before bed, they are just storing up those calories, and not actually burning them off, which can cause weight gain or lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Easier for your dog to gain weight
As previously mentioned, eating late at night can make it much easier for your dog to pile on the pounds. This is because they cannot burn off the calories or use up the energy provided by the food, which can then be stored as fat instead.
Naturally, your dog is used to a daily cycle, where they sleep at night and are awake during the day. In a normal schedule, the body would burn energy during the day, and relax at night ready for rest, but if this schedule is disrupted and your dog is eating at night, when it should be resting, then the whole body clock system is thrown off.
In addition, your dog can grow accustomed to eating at night, and the habit can be hard to break. They may wake you up asking for food or treats during the night, because they think that this is the time to be eating.
Increased risk of heart disease
Late night meals can also impact the blood pressure overnight, as your body has not entered relaxation mode, and is ready to burn energy. If your blood pressure is constantly at a higher level at night, instead of letting your body rest, then you can be at risk of heart disease and heart attacks. The same goes for our dogs.
Studies show that eating late at night increases the risk of a heart attack in dogs. In addition, if your dog is overweight, or has gained a lot of weight due to late meals then this also poses a risk to their overall cardiac health.
When should I be feeding my dog?
With a few of the reasons in mind as to why you should not feed your dog late at night, you are probably wondering what time is best. For the most part, there is not a specific time that dogs need to be fed. However, they should be fed at least 3 hours before bedtime. This is so that they have enough time to burn off some energy before going to sleep.
As we previously discussed, dogs should not be walked for two hours after eating, to ensure proper digestion. Therefore, feeding at least 3-4 hours before bedtime gives you enough time to feed your dog, let their food go down and give them a walk before bed so that all of their energy is expelled, and they are ready to curl up and sleep.
How late should you feed a puppy?
Puppies have various different needs than more mature dogs. Whereas fully grown dogs can be fed twice a day for a good diet and lifestyle, puppies need to be fed three times a day. These times are breakfast, lunch and an evening dinner.
This is largely down to the fact that puppies have a lot of energy, and lots of growing to do. However, the same rules apply. You should not feed puppies too late in the evening, and we would recommend sticking to the three hour rule. You should feed puppies 3-4 hours before bedtime, so that they can burn off their food, and it gives them time to poop or pee. In addition, this also gives you enough time to clear up any mess that they make before you head off to hit the hay yourself.
Why does my dog wake me up in the night for food?
If your dog is waking you up in the middle of the night and asking for food, then it may be a sign that they are not being fed enough. Always check with the veterinarian what the recommended amount of food is for your dog, its breed and its general health.
Whilst it is not recommended to feed a dog late at night, you can always offer them some treats before bed if they are hungry and they have not had enough food. However, you should exercise caution as you do not want this nighttime feeding to become a habit, or you will be up feeding your dog like a baby for the years to come!
Make sure that you are feeding the dog at the recommended time, and that they are getting enough food at mealtimes, and the waking up for food should stop.
Why does my dog want to eat at night?
Dogs do exactly what we encourage them to do. Whilst you may not mean to cause a problem, by feeding your dog at night, you are actively encouraging the behavior. A dog that asks to eat during the night should not be given in to, or they will continue to do this forever more.
To ensure that your dog does not make a habit of nighttime feeding, you will need to develop a routine, and stick to it. This means feeding your dog at the same time every day, twice a day. Try sticking to the exact times perfectly, and your dog will know exactly when it is time to eat, and when it is not.
In addition, avoid feeding them at night, or when they ask as they will expect to see results every time they ask, and will keep asking for food whenever they feel like it. If you think that your dog is hungry, and you do not want them to be famished all night, then try offering them a snack before bed time, but do not give them a meal!
Is it okay for a dog to sleep after eating?
Have you ever had a really big meal and immediately wanted to take a nap afterwards? Us too. Our dogs are the same! Sometimes after food, your dog may want to curl up in bed and have a little snooze.
However, this is not a bad thing. Some studies show that having a lie down after food can help reduce bloating, tension, and help the stomach digest the food better. They should get up shortly after their food has gone down, and will most likely want to play, go for a walk or exercise, as they will have lots of energy ready to use.
To conclude, there are many reasons why your dog should not eat late at night. While it can be easier for some dog owners to feed them later, especially if you work late, or have other commitments, it is not good for the dog. Eating late at night can cause digestive issues, increased weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, and it will throw your dog’s body clock into disorder.
In addition to this, your dog may need to go outside and use the bathroom in the early hours of the morning, or wake you up because of all the pent up energy they have. If you are unable to feed them in a daily routine of two meals a day, then it is best to ask a friend, neighbor or family member to come over and feed them at the same, specific time each day. This is so your dog has a healthy diet and lifestyle, and does not get a disrupted sleep pattern.