Why Does My Dog Only Eat At Night?

by Stuart | Last Updated:   October 10, 2021

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Dogs are creatures of habit. If your dog is used to being fed only at night, it’s only going to eat at night. That’s just what it has been taught to do.  So, your dog could be only eating at night just because of its habit.

You may be a little concerned when your dog only eats at night. In this post, we break down this dog behaviour and share some tips and suggestions on how you can change and improve it.

Golden Retriever dog eating at night in the kitchen with food bowl on floor

Related Reading: 7 Reasons Your Dog Is Anxious At Night

Is It Bad If My Dog Only Eats Once a Day?

Dogs should eat at least two meals daily, about 12 hours apart. If there have been more than 12 hours between meals, their stomach can start to become hyper acidic resulting in nausea.

Many dogs only eat once a day, even though they are more comfortable eating twice a day. In the wild, a dog might have to go multiple days without food before a successful hunt or a successful scavenge.

Puppies will eat three times a day so you’ll likely want to schedule their meal around noon time. Consider getting a dog sitter if necessary.

Why Won’t My Dog Eat in the Morning But Eat at Night?

The most common reason why dogs won’t eat their food in the morning but eat at night is that your dog is accustomed to having full access to its food throughout the day. You are not limiting its opportunity to eat at the scheduled time for food.

What to rule out

The first step you should take as a pet parent is to rule out any medical issue that can be an underlying reason your dog may not be eating. 

If your dog suddenly stopped eating in the morning without any changes in its routine, you should take your dog to the vet for a check-up. This will ensure that your dog isn’t just feeling under the weather.

Feeding routine

Once you have ruled out any medical problems that could have been the underlying cause the next thing to look at is the feeding routine you have for your dog!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you just pour your dog’s food in the feeding bowl and simply leave it on the ground all-day 
  • Do you just allow your dog the opportunity to eat when you place the food down for a few minutes?

There are main feeding routines most pet owners fall into free feeding and a structured schedule here we’ll look at both.

  • Free Feeding: Free feeding is the routine most new dog owners end up falling into. It involves simply filling your dog’s bowl and then allowing your doggie to have full access to their food throughout the day. Your dog can eat a little bit of its food throughout the day as it has full access to its food all day. Doing this is often the main reason why your dog won’t eat his food at the night. With free feeding, your dog can also gain extra weight.
  • Structured Feeding Schedule: The structured feeding schedule is when you have a set time scheduled to feed your dog. On that scheduled feeding time you fill your fur buddy’s bowl as usual. However, this time you only give your dog the opportunity to eat for a certain amount of time. If your dog chooses not to eat, simply pick up the food bowl and your dog doesn’t eat until the next scheduled time.

Unlike mature dogs that eat once or twice a day, most puppies need to eat puppy food three times a day. Stick to a routine and give them regular potty breaks.

Is It Bad for Dogs to Eat Right Before Bed?

It is not recommended to feed a dog right before bed. Dogs do best when they are fed on a schedule, as this allows ample time to digest and relieve themselves before sleeping. Feeding late at night will disrupt their sleep and will often require midnight bathroom trips.

Your dog gets its energy from the food it eats. Avoid feeding it directly before bedtime, because the food will digest and energize it hours later. 

What Time Should a Dog’s Last Meal Be?

Feeding your doggie does not have to be mysterious. A feeding routine helps your pet cope when there are changes in the household. It also makes a necessary food change easier. Feed your dog two to three hours before bed if it’s high-quality, filler-free food.

One of the most important reasons to remember meal consistency is that inconsistent eating times will often lead to inconsistent potty times.

By establishing a meal routine from the very beginning you’ll run into few issues with your dog’s mealtime and willingness to eat. It’s worth putting in the time and effort right now so that undesirable habits and behaviours won’t stand a chance.

Related Reading: 5 Tips To Stop Your Dog Barking At Night

Final Thoughts

Feeding time can be an important bonding time. Creating a routine and regular feeding times builds fun into everyday activities.

If your dog doesn’t eat in the morning, don’t be alarmed. Stick to the established feeding schedule and you will start to notice that when it’s feeding time, your dog will be excited to eat.

Getting your dog to eat in the morning shouldn’t be too hard. Consistency is key with everything you do in training! The sooner you create a schedule, the sooner your dog will adjust to its new home.

Next time you’re wondering “why my dog only eat at night” ask yourself what feeding routine is your dog on?

Does your dog have access to its food all day or have you provided your dog with a structured feeding schedule?

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.
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