Before bringing home your Malamute, you need to get the basics down, and probably the most important of all is what to feed them. Malamutes are big dogs with big appetites and will usually eat anything and everything you put in front of them, but this quickly leads to problems with weight gain and may put their health at risk.
It is recommended for Alaskan Malamutes to be fed twice a day, with 7-8 hours given between mealtimes. Alaskan Malamute puppies should have four small meals per day, with 4-5 hour intervals between. The exact feeding times can be adjusted to suit your routine, but you should stick to a routine where possible.
In this guide, we’ll talk you through the dos and don’ts of feeding a Malamute to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to keep them happy and healthy.
What To Avoid
The biggest no-no for feeding your Malamute is allowing them to beg at your feet while you eat. Malamutes are greedy and will happily eat anything given to them, and they know very well how to get scraps from you!
Malamutes are great at using their big brown eyes to convince you to share with them, and their stubbornness makes them very persistent.
You must not give in to them, though, as difficult as it may be! Malamutes are a pack breed, and succumbing to their wishes may lead to them becoming the household alpha.
Not only can sharing food with them lead to hierarchy problems within the home, but human food, in general, is not good for your Malamute’s stomach.
Our food is processed and often has a high salt content, which is a bad combination if you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight for your Malamute. The majority of their nutrition should come from high-quality dry food; see our top pick below and other options in our guide, including puppy and senior food:
First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel
- Made with 85% animal ingredients
- High in protein for active dogs
- Based on a ‘biologically appropriate’ diet
- More expensive per lb than other kibbles
Some foods humans consume daily without a problem are toxic for dogs and may lead to diarrhea, sickness, or health complications. You should avoid allowing your Malamute to consume the following, even in small amounts:
- Seeds and nuts
- Garlic and garlic powder
- Onion and onion powder
- Foods that contain artificial sweeteners
- Milk and dairy products
- Cooked bones
- Candy and gum
If you are concerned that your dog has eaten any of the above, contact a vet for further advice.
We’re not saying we’re perfect; we definitely give into those big puppy dog eyes occasionally!
If you’re going to do the same, we recommend making your Malamute wait until you’ve completely finished your food and making them perform a few of their known skills beforehand (sit, paw, lie down) to maintain some dominance over them.
Limit what you’re giving them to the equivalent of a single human mouthful, always research beforehand to ensure the food isn’t toxic to them, and never let them finish all your leftovers!
Should You Free Feed Your Alaskan Malamute?
‘Free feeding‘ is a method for feeding pets where a bowl of food is left out so that the pet has constant access and can eat at any time. The bowl is continuously refilled when it gets low so the pet can eat as much as they desire throughout the day.
It’s probably unsurprising that this method only works for animals not interested in stuffing themselves at any given opportunity, and it is most often used for cats that come and go into the house as they please.
Unfortunately, Malamutes definitely do not know their limits when it comes to eating and will eat everything you give them. This is normal Malamute behavior and stems from their origins in arctic climates where food is often scarce, and every opportunity to eat must be acted upon.
As always, there are examples of Malamutes who have been trained to free feed successfully, but these are few and far between, and we personally don’t recommend the time it takes to achieve this.
Malamutes are best suited to eating on a regular schedule to maintain their weight and to prevent any sickness and diarrhea that come with the inevitable over-eating.
How Often Should You Feed An Alaskan Malamute?
Before jumping into this, it’s essential to know that all Malamutes are different, and what works for one may not work for another. That being said, Malamutes are usually fairly easy to get into a regular eating schedule, thanks to their past as working dogs.
Some Malamutes may be stubborn about their eating habits and refuse to eat at mealtimes, but in our experience, this is often a problem with the food itself rather than the schedule.
So, when should you feed your Malamute?
Well, it depends! Our recommendation for the average, non-working Malamute is twice a day, once when you wake up in the morning and once in the afternoon.
Everyone’s schedules are different, but we recommend leaving around 7 to 8 hours between the feeds to give them enough time to fully digest their food and ensure they don’t get too hungry through the night.
Other dog breeds may only require one meal a day to keep them going, but Malamutes are a large and deep-chested breed, making them much more susceptible to canine bloat, a potentially life-threatening problem in which a dog’s stomach becomes twisted and fills with gas.
Malamutes benefit significantly from being fed two smaller meals throughout the day to give them sufficient time to thoroughly digest their food before receiving their next meal.
You can do several things to help reduce the risk of your Mal getting canine bloat, which you can find in our vet-reviewed article here.
Working Malamutes will require more food at mealtimes to maintain their weight and blood sugar levels, but two meals a day is still adequate.
To avoid canine bloat, their meals should be offered at least an hour before any intense exercise to give your Malamute time to start digesting it.
How Often Should You Feed Elderly Alaskan Malamutes?
It’s a sad fact of life that eventually, your Malamute will become an elder, which may mean changing their feeding habits to accommodate them better.
Elderly Malamutes are usually less active and burn fewer calories throughout the day, meaning they require less food to keep them going to prevent them from becoming overweight.
You may also find that their sense of smell and taste declines as your dog ages, and they become less willing to eat.
In this case, we recommend splitting their daily food allowance into 3 or 4 meals throughout the day and giving them up to half an hour to finish their meal before taking away any leftovers.
This way, your Malamute will have plenty of chance to take in the food they need at their own pace without feeling rushed to eat it all.
Alaskan Malamute Puppies
Malamute puppies have a lot of growing to do in their first year of life, and ensuring they’re eating enough at the right times is vital for their development.
Puppies need to eat more food per kg of body weight than adult Malamutes, but their undeveloped digestion system means their meals must be split up throughout the day.
Once a puppy has weaned (which should be from the time you get them), they should be eating up to 4 small meals at 4-5 hour intervals throughout the day to prevent their bowels from holding too much food at once.
By the time you bring them home, your puppy’s digestive system should have slowed enough to allow them to manage up to 8 hours through the night without food, meaning you can still get a good night’s sleep without worrying they’re going hungry – remember to leave them with access to water at all times!
As your Malamute grows up, their meals should slowly increase in size and decrease in frequency so that they are eating the two daily meals as recommended for adults.
How Often Should You Feed A Malamute Snacks And Treats?
From time to time, it’s perfectly okay to treat your Malamute, especially if it’s to reward good behavior and during training. Malamutes are very food-motivated, and a few treats will go a long way in making them more obedient!
As previously mentioned, Malamutes and human food are not a good mix, so the treats you give them should ideally be made for dogs. Our top pick is below, and you can find more options in our guide on Malamute treats here.
- Less than 3 calories per treat
- Perfect size for training
- Corn, wheat, and soy free
- Made with natural ingredients
- Not grain-free
Always follow the recommended serving size on the packet to avoid overfeeding, as treats tend to be more calorie-dense than their regular food.
You should always try to avoid giving your Malamute treats at the same time that you are eating, as this may promote alpha behaviors that can quickly get out of control!
Ideally, you should give out treats separately from when they are eating and always make them work for it, even if it’s as simple as making them sit down.
Like humans, Malamutes should have treats in moderation, but as long as they maintain a healthy diet and exercise schedule, there is no reason to avoid them altogether!
The most important thing you can do is keep your Alaskan Malamute to a regular feeding schedule.
You should notice good behavior surrounding meal times once you find something that works for you and your Malamute.
It also has a lot of benefits for your Mal in terms of maintaining their daily intake and making sure they are comfortable during exercise and other activities.