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Meal Feeding vs. Free Feeding 

While this subject isn't quite as controversial and the Raw vs. Kibble feeding that I hope to put my thoughts down about soon, it can be controversial. There are good and bad reasons for both practices and it's up to the owner to assess the situation and try and make the right choice for them and their dogs.

Meal feeding has it's place for feeding raw, feeding obese dogs, or feeding dogs that are like shop vacs and don't know how to self regulate. Meals fed in crates can help if feed a large number of animals to prevent fighting and if you have to supplement a particular animal with a special product meal feeding can make that easier as well. Meal feeding can increase food obsession and possessiveness and can predispose dog to gulp food which is implicated in increasing presdiposition to bloat (Gastric Dilitation and Volvulus (GDV).

I practice a bit of both with my dogs, because I do believe that raw feeding is better for them and more natural I do feed raw meals to my dogs. However I also provide free feeding kibble for them to eat whenever they want. I want it there for more than just extra calories.

My silkens tend to share resources very well and I want to foster that. By providing free fed kibble, they learn never to worry about food, because something will always be available. I've seen and dealt with silkens who have suffered from a lack of resources and the food associated issues I find quite frustrating. Thankfully most of those that have come here have learned over time that food is available and it has become less of an issue. So my pups are raised the same way with raw meals and access to kibble at all times once they are weaned.

My silkens don't tend to run to fat or be overweight, the ones that are a bit on that side are all the ones that came from a resource problem background. That makes feeding the kibble all the time possible. And with time they trim down, being on raw, the kibble is less interesting and less of an issue. So those usually gain some weight for the first few months here and then begin to drop it and their food issue begin to resolve themselves.

GDV, so far is not a big concern in silkens, it is however in borzoi and I don't want to see it in my kenel due to bad feeding practices like dogs gulping food. I've seen meal feeding increase that in dogs and silkens and I've had to over the phone treat a few meal fed silkens that had had the opportunity to overindulge in their food. They weren't used to self-regulating and just kept eating until they were stuffed to the point of pretty severe discomfort. Free feeding allows dogs to learn some moderation and I've seen overeating less in silkens that are free fed.

I've basically found that I'm not disimilar from them, if I gulp my food in large meals, I tend to overeat and regret it afterword. Re-learning my own eating habits has been tough and I'd rather prevent the silkens from developing the bad habits that way.

So please take time to look at your dog and their tendencies and if they aren't a food gobbler and if they aren't obese, think about how to feed your dog before you just settle into meal feeding.


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