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How Many Times a Day Should I Feed My Australian Shepherd?

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A red merle Aussie puppy eating

Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, are an intelligent and high-energy breed. As such, they have specific dietary needs, specifically a diet high in fat and protein. To maintain your Aussie's health and well-being, proper feeding is crucial. If you are a first-time Aussie owner, you may be unsure how often to feed your dog. Feeding frequency can vary based on a few factors.

Factors to Consider When Determining Feeding Frequency

  • Age of your Australian Shepherd: Generally speaking, puppies and senior dogs have different nutritional needs compared to adult dogs. With that in mind, Australian Shepherd puppies will require more calories and need to be fed a lot if you want them to grow into strong, healthy dogs. On the other hand, Adult Aussies have a slow metabolism and therefore shouldn't be fed more often than puppies. Senior Aussies are usually less active. As such, they require fewer calories than when they were younger.
  • Activity level: The Australian Shepherd is an athletic dog breed, and as such, should be properly fed to maintain its athletic abilities. According to Eukanuba, a brand of dog and cat food, the more active your Australian Shepherd is, the more calories they will need to consume. For example, if your Aussie is involved in light work or exercise, Eukanuba recommends that their daily caloric need be multiplied by 2. For moderate workers, it is recommended that their daily caloric needs be multiplied by 3 and up to 6 for Aussies involved in heavy work or exercise.
  • Weight and size: Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs, with males being slightly heavier than females. Male adult Aussies typically weigh between 23 and 29 kg while female adults weigh from 14 to 20 kg. As such, smaller Aussies may require less food compared to larger ones. On the other hand, overweight Australian Shepherds may need to have their portions monitored more closely.

Recommended Feeding Schedule for Australian Shepherds

  • Australian Shepherd Puppies: You should feed your Aussie puppy 3 meals a day. To allow for proper growth, it is widely recommended that Aussie puppies be fed medium-breed, high-quality puppy food during the first 12 months of their life. Then, you can transition your Australian Shepherd puppy from puppy food to adult food. To determine the number of cups to feed your dog at a time, please refer to the guidelines on the dog food packaging. Alternatively, your vet can determine the proper portion size to feed your Australian Shepherd puppy.
  • Adult Australian Shepherds: It is widely recommended that adult Aussies be fed 2 meals a day, with 12 hours of spacing between meals. Ideally, you should be feeding your Aussie one meal in the morning and one in the evening. If your Australian Shepherd eats too quickly, vets recommend that you buy a slow-feeder dog bowl to slow them down at mealtime. Generally, adult Australian Shepherds may require up to 3 cups of dog food per day, divided into two meals, with frequent snacks in between meals.
  • Senior Australian Shepherds: Around 8 years of age, your Aussie's diet should be slowly transitioned to a senior diet that contains joint support. Generally, it is recommended that senior Aussies be fed a little less than adults. That's because senior Aussies have a slow metabolism and tend to have lower caloric needs. As a general guideline, it is recommended that senior Aussies be fed 2% of their body weight. Of course, every Australian Shepherd is different—while some senior Aussies remain as active as they ever were, others' energy requirements may diminish. The bottom line is that an age milestone is not sufficient reason to alter your Aussie's diet, provided that they are in good health. It is advisable to remain in contact with your vet and observe your senior dog’s behavior and weight to gauge whether they are consuming the right amount of calories.
Regardless of age, it is recommended that you monitor your dog's weight when feeding them and adjust accordingly. This recommended feeding schedule goes for Miniature American Shepherds as well.

4 Kinds of Food To Feed Your Australian Shepherd

  1. Dry Dog Food: Also known as kibble, is made by grinding and mixing up different ingredients. Typically containing more carbohydrates, dry dog foods are cooked at high temps to remove the water content.
  2. Wet Dog Food: Unlike dry dog food, wet dog food has fewer carbohydrates, more water, and more fat. Vets often recommend wet dog food for dogs that are picky eaters or have difficulty chewing hard kibble.
  3. Home-Cooked Dog Food: If you are not into commercial dog food, DIY homemade dog food can be a great option for you. Homemade dog food is easy to make usually with ground turkey (or chicken, or beef, or fish), rice, and vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower. Feeding your Aussie homemade dog food gives you control over its nutrition. Plus, your mind will be at ease knowing that you are always providing your dog with high-quality food.
  4. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF): It is a diet that includes raw ingredients including crushed animal bones, raw meat, vegetables, and fruits. The diet's purpose is to reverse common health issues in dogs. So, it is advisable to consult your vet before feeding your Aussie a BARF diet.

Should You Feed Your Aussie Before or After Exercise?

Although there is no scientifically established "safe" time for feeding dogs, it is generally recommended that dogs be fed a full meal a minimum of 10 to 12 hours before exercise. Then after exercise, it is widely recommended that you wait at least an hour before feeding your dog.

Should You Feed Your Aussie Eggs?

Eggs contain several health benefits for both humans and dogs alike. So, yes, you should feed your Australian Shepherd eggs, but not every day. Three days a week is ideal. One egg a day is recommended for adult Aussies. However, you shouldn't feed raw eggs to your Australian Shepherd. Vets recommend that you boil the egg before giving it your your dog. You can find the reason for this in my previous article titled "Can Australian Shepherds Eat Boiled Eggs?"

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