Why Does My Dog Eat ONLY At Night? (Reasons)

Every dog has its own personality and habits unrelated to the breed or gender. And just like for humans, sometimes we don’t have an explanation for why they do what they do or behave as they do. 

But some of their behaviors can usually be tracked and we can find an explanation for them. For example, a dog’s eating habits. Do you ever wonder why your dog eats only at night and not during the day?

why does my dog eat only at night
Why does my dog eat only at night? (Reasons)

A related issue could be their food or their feeding schedule. It can also be related to their health, both physical and mental, like anxiety, which dogs also have and display symptoms and signs of through various behaviors. 

Their preferences, lifestyle, and day-to-day activities also play a big part in their eating habits. In this blog post, we’ll look more closely at a dog’s eating habits and why some dogs eat only at night. 

Is Eating Only At Night Normal?

As we mentioned, all dogs have different eating habits based on their surroundings, upbringing, and caretakers. However, before they were domesticated dogs, wild dogs and wolves would sometimes eat only every few days, 2 to 3 days between meals. 

Yorkie eats with bowl
Yorkie eats quietly in a bowl.

But just like everything evolving, this is a completely different situation today. All vets now recommend that dogs need to be fed at least twice a day and sometimes more depending on their activity and day-to-day lives. 

For those staying at home with their pets, it is even recommended to feed your dogs three times a day.

Every dog’s diet should include a meal at least twice a day. Regardless of their size or activity, two meals a day satisfies their needs for energy to last them throughout the day and night so they can be fulfilled and happy. 

This, of course, is not always the case and sometimes dogs have unusual habits, like eating only at night. Some owners have noticed this with their dogs and the explanations for this are not always obvious.

Your Dog Might Like Nights Better 

Some dogs take advantage of daylight and sunlight to express all their physical capabilities and roam in a park, a yard, or a garden. But not all dogs behave like this, and if your dog is a night owl and is more active at night, this might be an explanation for why their feeding schedule includes a midnight snack. 

woman with her dog at night
A woman looking after her dog at night.

The majority of dogs will eat food whenever it is offered to them. Some of them will only accept or demand food when they are hungry. 

If during your day at home it seems like your dog is calm, not very active, and always sleeping during the day, it means they don’t always have the appetite and the calories spent for a meal

If you are not at home most of the day, they do not use this time on their own and they are excited for you to come home at night.

They are waiting for an available time to play with you when they get really excited that you are back. This excitement, more playtime, and time spent with you brings up their level of energy which they spend in the evening which only increases their appetite after the day is done and so they get hungry at night. 

Think of your own schedule. If you don’t do anything during the day, would you require a big lunch? Do you have a preference on if you would like a big breakfast or tend to focus more on food in the afternoons or in the evening when you have more time to dedicate to a delicious meal? 

This works for your dog as well as their day-to-day schedule. If their meals are mostly in the afternoon and their activities are only in the later part of the day, then your dog gets hungry after spending all that energy so they get hungry when it’s already night time. 

Your Dog Wants To Eat Alone 

Some dogs don’t want attention when they are eating, so they don’t eat in front of you or other people in the house. Does your dog prefer to have his or her meal alone, away from everyone? 

Labrador with dog food
Labrador Retriever eats dog food on the floor.

Some dogs prefer only eating at night and on their own when everyone is sleeping and they can eat in peace. You might be lucky because this means that your dog is okay on its own during the day as well, and you don’t have to worry when you are not there that they won’t be taken care of. 

Some dogs only eat when their owner is present and some dogs won’t even look at the food until the human has left. This can be related to your dog’s past and previous eating habits. 

If they were previously in a shelter, they might not always have had the food palette that you are offering to them now, especially on a daily basis. So the only time that they are used to being relaxed is at night when everything is quiet and all the other dogs and in this case humans have gone to bed. 

This doesn’t always have to be a problem but it could mean that your dog is not eating the food given to them because they are resource guarding and afraid that they might not always have the next meal coming. 

Your Dog Might Be Anxious 

Even though it seems unusual and more of a human condition, many pets deal with anxiety as well. Just like humans, dogs suffer from separation anxiety especially when they are separated from their humans. 

dog with hairclip looks sad
A dog with hairclip looks sad on the floor.

Separation anxiety is a very real and serious problem for some dogs, and can manifest in a number of ways. Some dogs may become withdrawn or sad when their owner leaves them alone, while others may become overly clingy or anxious. 

Some may start to bark or howl excessively, while others may chew on furniture or clothing. In extreme cases, some dogs may even attempt to escape from their home or yard in an effort to find their owner. Another extreme case can be dog anorexia meaning they are not eating at all. 

There can be different degrees of separation which also differentiates the symptoms that they display and how they manifest their anxiety. 

If a dog has separation anxiety, they may feel stressed and disturbed while you are away at work during the day. This might be getting in the way of their eating during the day as they do not feel relaxed to enjoy their daily habits and needs so they ignore food completely. 

So in the evening when their human is back, they are relaxed again and more settled into their environment so they start to eat right away and immediately feel better. This might mean that your dog is too upset to eat during the day and they can relax when you are at home so they can enjoy their meal. 

An anxious dog is an unhappy one, so if you feel your dog has separation anxiety, talk to a behaviorist or trainer to help cope with it. Separation anxiety left unchecked can escalate quickly and is one of the leading causes of dogs being given up to shelters. 

Your Dog Has Habits 

Sometimes we get our dogs when they are puppies so we get to shape their day-to-day habits and feeding schedule. But sometimes we get them when they are older so they have already formed their own preferences depending on their previous experience. 

Welsh Springer Spaniel bowl
Welsh Springer Spaniel eating on his bowl.

If you’ve adopted an adult dog, he or she might already be used to eating solely at night, and their metabolism and bodies have already gotten used to it. Just like human habits, your dog could relate meal times to night time, and prefer to eat only at night. 

Is Only Eating At Night Healthy?

Eating at night means that the calories are going into their bodies and when they sleep, the calories don’t have a chance to get burned off. Night eating can lead to weight gain, so you’ll have to limit the size of the night time meal. 

Pitbull eats
It is essential for Pitbull to eat healthy foods to have a shiny and healthy-looking coat.

If your dog is a healthy weight and eating only at night, you shouldn’t worry. Your dog is simply living on their own schedule and adhering to habits already previously incorporated.

However, if you want to change your dog’s eating habits, you should slowly establish a new routine. Move the late meal gradually earlier, a few days at a time. 

For example, if you feed at 9pm, move the meal time to 8.30 pm for a few days, then 8.15 pm for a few days, until your dog gradually learns that dinner time is at about 6 pm. 

Final Thoughts 

While the majority of dogs are gluttons that will gobble up any food, some dogs are finicky eaters and have strange eating habits. Dogs love routine, so if you can get the late meal moved up to dinner time, your dog will get used to it eventually. Good luck!