Should I Feed My Dog A Late Night Snack?

Will a bit to eat just before bed harm your dog? ¹

You drag yourself from the car to the front door. It’s late and today was beyond crazy. Poor Rover must be starving by now.

Is it okay to feed him this late? What happens if this becomes a regular thing? Will he be okay?

Maybe you should consider investing in one of those self-feeder thingies. Would that be a good idea?

It seems the smart people can’t really agree on that one.

And what about a snack before bedtime? Is that the same as feeding Rover before bedtime, or is it somehow different?

After all, you have snacks before bedtime all the time, and your poor fur kid looks at you with those please-have-pity-on-me eyes, begging for just one bite of whatever you’re having.

Can you share with him? What should he be having?

We’ve got you covered. Read on as we tackle these questions and a few extras.

Is it Bad to Feed My Dog Late at Night?

Dogs get their energy through food, just like we do. If we only feed them once a day, or the meals are far apart, the poor fur kids get starved in between meals. This means they don’t have the energy to do what they need to do, so they’ll probably become lethargic, bored, tired, and depressed. That’s no fun. 

When you feed them late at night, they also won’t go running around after the meal, so they won’t burn off the energy they just consumed with that meal. Yikes. Now, all of that unused energy converts to fat, causing your poor pup to become overweight.

So, no, don’t give your pup a meal late at night. It’s just not a good idea.

Should I Give My Dog A Treat Before Bed?

Say you’re feeding your pup well-spaced meals, so he’s not starved during the day. He’s probably also not hungry come bedtime because he’s so well fed. But, just like us humans, he might be a bit peckish before bedtime. Can you give him a treat late at night? Would that be so bad?

Turns out, when done right, a bedtime treat isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it might help train your pup to settle down come bedtime. This is definitely useful for those with restless fur kids who don’t want to go to bed. Five more minutes, mom?

If you consistently give your fur kid a treat before bedtime, it will train him to expect something yummy when he’s about to settle in for the night. You can use this prospect as a training tool, where he associated the treat with going to lie down in his bed and actually going to sleep. That’s a win for both of you!

So, what is a healthy treat? Glad you asked.

What is a Good Bedtime Snack for my Dog?

There are many yummy treats available for dogs, but not all of them are healthy. Here’s a list of healthy snacks you can feed your pup before bedtime. Remember that this is just a treat, not a meal. A little goes a long way.

–          Apples

–          Popcorn without any butter or salt

–          Carrots

–          Blueberries

Is it Okay for My Dog to Sleep After Eating?

If your pup runs around and acts all rowdy after a meal, he might end up with some digestive disturbances, like a tummy ache.

So, keeping calm to let the food “settle down” isn’t a bad idea. Just mind the length of the nap and the time of the meal.

If your pup is going down for the night, he won’t be using the energy from the meal he just ate, and that’s not healthy (like we said above). But, if it’s a quick nap in the middle of the day, there seems to be no harm done. He’ll still burn off all that energy, and he’ll be well-rested for it to boot.

What Time Should My Dog’s Last Meal Be?

Like humans, dogs should have smaller, regular meals spread throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to have breakfast around 7, lunch around noon, and dinner by 5pm. That way, your pup still has plenty of time to digest his dinner, burn off some energy, and go potty one last time before heading to bed. It also frees up your time in the evenings, so you guys can spend some quality time together before your fur kid hits the hay.

Note that this is just a suggested timeline – your schedule might look different, so adjust things to suit your lifestyle. The main takeaway here is that your pup needs a bit of time between dinner and bedtime to help his body deal with the meal he just had.

Why is My Dog So Hungry All of A Sudden?

Maybe you had the meal routine down to a T, feeding your fur kid small, regular meals, and all that jazz. Then, suddenly, Rover is hungry all the time and insists on feeds late at night and at odd times during the day. This is probably a sign of internal parasites, unfortunately. These could be tapeworms, roundworms, or other nasties. These could come from fleas or from when your pup eats grass or something else that has roundworm eggs on it.

The vet can determine whether your fur kid has parasites by testing a stool sample. Luckily, these things are usually easily treated with some meds and potentially dietary adjustments.

Alternatively, your pup could suffer from diabetes or similar diseases that cause increased appetite. The vet can determine this through blood or urine tests. Unfortunately, these are potentially more severe and long-term than internal parasites.

Either way, if your pup suddenly shows increased appetite or other abnormal behavior, it’s best to get him to the vet for a checkup.

Is it Cruel to Only Feed a Dog Once a Day?

Our fur kids’ feeding schedules must synch with our daily schedules through necessity. These can be crazy since we’ve got work, exercise, social appointments, and many other things to fit into our lives. Some people feed their fur kids twice a day, and that’s fine. Here, it’s important to note that your pup’s meals shouldn’t be more than 12 hours apart. Suppose you stretch poor Rover longer than that. In that case, his stomach will become hyper acidic, which leads to nausea and potentially some other complications.

So, no, it’s not a good idea to feed your pup only once a day. The poor thing will feel miserable and suffer from all sorts of tummy aches and upsets. That said, you don’t have to necessarily feed him more than twice a day.

Then, there’s always the option of a self-feeder, or an automatic dog feeder connected to a timer. That’s for the super busy people who are afraid they might miss mealtimes once in a while. The verdict is still out on self-feeders, though. Some dogs do well with these devices and actually eat less than when fed at regular intervals. Others overeat and become obese as a result. This depends on your dog’s temperament and breed. 

Why Should I Avoid Late Night Meals for My Dog?

So, we know now that a late-night snack if fine for Rover, but a late-night meal isn’t. Why is that?

Bathroom Breaks

After a meal, your fur kids’ body needs time to digest the food. Once this is done, he’ll need to go potty. If he’s already in bed, he might not have a way to get outside to do his business. Then, the poor thing will hold it in until morning, or he’ll go inside the house. Both are bad, but for different reasons. If your pup holds it in, he will suffer short-term discomfort. If he does this regularly, he might end up with some long-term issues.

We don’t need to unpack the downsides of your pup going in the house. Potty training is an absolute necessity for your peace of mind.

Energy Levels

If your pup goes too long without food, he won’t have any energy to play or do other doggy things. This isn’t good since it affects his healthy routine and daily functioning.

When you feed your pup too late, he has too much energy left in his system. Now, he’ll probably want to play, go for a walk, and generally goof around. So, he won’t be able to sleep when he’s supposed to. This messes with your schedule and his natural rhythm.

Weight Gain

This is linked to the previous point. Your pup now has too much energy in his system, but it’s bedtime. So, he probably won’t burn all of that the way he’s supposed to. Now, all that energy converts into fat, which leads to obesity. Not a great thing.

Health Risks

Late-night feeds throw off your pup’s natural internal clock and causes potential weight gain. Both of these increase the risk for conditions like heart disease and other related diseases.

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!