That is why when planning your puppies diet, you need to:

  • follow the recommendations of a vet or a breeder;
  • consider the feeding schedule offered by the food manufacturer;
  • consider your puppy’s individual needs, it’s activity level, body weight, etc.

While every dog is unique, there are some general recommendations for puppy owners. We’ve prepared a complete guide on puppy feeding. Keep on reading to find useful tips on how often and how much to feed a puppy.

Puppy Feeding: The First-Year Schedule and Recommendations

One year of a dog’s life is equal to 7 years of human life. No surprise that the approach to the feeding will change several times during the first year of your puppy’s life. Approximately, the first year can be subdivided into three periods.

  1. 6-12 weeks. At the age of six weeks, you may introduce dog food to your puppy. For a starter, you’d better use moisture food, as it is easier to eat and digest. By the age of 9-10 weeks, larger breeds can be fed with dry food for puppies. For the smaller breeds, the age of introducing dry food shifts to 12-13 weeks. Keep in mind that only special puppy food is allowed at this age. Food for adult dogs lacks many nutrients that are essential for puppies. As for the frequency of feeding, four meals per day are usually recommended.
  2. 3-6 months. By the age of 12 weeks, the puppies’ body changes. A small furry ball now resembles an adult dog. Its round potbelly disappears; legs become longer and stronger. As soon as you’ve noticed the changes, you may reduce the number of meals to three per day.
  3. 6-12 months. The age of 6 months is a serious milestone in a puppy’s life. At 7-9 months (depending on the breed) most dogs are spayed or neutered, which slightly reduces their appetite and changes dietary needs. Approximately, in a month after this, switch to the food for adult dogs gradually and decrease the number of feedings per day to two.
  4. 12 months. At the age of one year, a puppy can be treated as an adult dog. You may feed it twice a day with dry or wet food for adult dogs.

Portion size depends on the breed

How Much Food Do Puppies Need?

The nutritional requirements of different puppies can vary greatly. An optimal meal size depends on several variables: the puppy’s activity level, its size, body weight, state of health, and metabolism. Start with the portion size recommended by the food manufacturer and then watch your dog. It happens that a puppy leaves some food uneaten or skips a meal. If it looks healthy and active, don’t worry too much about this and continue to feed a puppy as usual. Probably, it’s time to decrease the number of meals or reduce the portion size. Also, you need to consider the treats that your puppy gets throughout the day. If giving treats is a part of the training, let them be as small as possible.

What is the Best Frequency of Feeding?

Normally, the frequency of feeding is determined by the pup’s age. Younger puppies need to be fed 4-5 times a day, while the meal size should be very small. At the same time, it’s important to prevent the habit of picking. That is why try to adhere to a strict feeding schedule and take away all uneaten food in 10-15 minutes. As the pup is growing up, reduce the number of meals to 3 and, finally, 2 per day.

Should I Buy Premium Food for Puppies?

There is some difference between cheap and expensive dog food, except for their price. Premium sorts of food have a higher share of natural meat; therefore, their nutritional value is higher. Moreover, they contain little to no allergic components and ingredients with low nutritional value, such as corn, rice, egg powder, etc. While premium foods are relatively expensive, you can save a little by reducing the portion size, thanks to the high nutritional density of the food.

Wet Food vs Dry Food for Puppies

Choosing between wet, canned, and dry food for puppies is more than just a matter of taste. For example, canned food is the closest to natural meat and the tastiest for most pups. Dry food has certain benefits for teeth and gums, as dogs have to chew hard kibbles, which makes their teeth stronger.

  • Dry food is the cheapest option. It comes in a huge variety of tastes and flavors. High-quality dry food contains natural meat and a whole range of essential nutrients. It fully covers the nutritional requirements of dogs and puppies.
  • Semi-moist food is not so popular. It is mainly bought for the pups with digestive problems. The puppy food of this type usually comes in individual (one-portion) packs, which makes it relatively expensive.
  • Canned food is the most expensive one. Premium canned food is often made of 100% meat. Most pups love it, but you need to keep in mind that a meat-only diet can be insufficient. Dogs need some vegetables, essential oils, and vitamins as well. So, it makes sense to mix canned food with something else.

Is Feeding Large Breeds Different from Feeding Small Breeds?

The core difference between large and small breeds is their maturity age. Smaller breeds tend to grow up faster. Thus, small-breeds puppies often can be considered adults as early as at the age of 9 months. Larger breeds, in turn, can remain puppies until the age of 12-14 months. You need to take this fact into account when planning a diet for your pup.

Why is Regular Puppy Weighing So Important?

Though all dogs are different, there are certain weight and growth standards for every breed. You can find a weight/growth chart for a certain breed online and check whether your puppy’s physical parameters comply with the average parameters of this breed. By doing so on a regular basis, you’ll see if there is a need for the pup’s diet correction or you feed a puppy properly.

If a puppy gains weight too fast, it can become obese soon. Obesity, in turn, causes numerous health problems, including cardiovascular problems and diabetes. In addition, it increases the pressure on immature joints, which can result in orthopedic problems.

That is why vets recommend weighing puppies regularly and match the results to the weight/growth charts offered by breeders. If you see that your puppy is overweight, it makes sense to revise its diet or increase the level of physical activity. To weigh a puppy you need to weigh yourself first. After that, take your pup in your hands and weigh yourself again. The difference between the two figures is your puppy’s weight.

What if My Puppy is Pleading Me? Can I Share My Food with Him?

Over the years of evolution, dogs have polished up their skills in the field of manipulating “their” humans. Historically, the fact of sharing food has been associated with love and care. This is imprinted deep inside the dog’s mind. When a pup is begging for another biscuit or sandwich, in fact, it means: “I need your love. Let me know you love me”. In other words, if your puppy is looking at you pleadingly when you are eating, it doesn’t mean it is really hungry. That is why there’s no point in giving it your food, which is often useless, not to say toxic for pets. Make it clear for yourself how much to feed a puppy per day and adhere to this scheme.

Always keep in mind that human food is not good for dogs unless you eat natural unsalted low-fat meat with no spices. All sorts of biscuits, candies, nuts, burgers, etc. contain a lot of salt, sugar, and fats that are harmful to dogs, especially puppies. Moreover, they slacken their appetite and cause stomach problems. Instead of a well-balanced diet, your puppy gets tons of empty calories. Veterinarians and dog breeders share the opinion: the best approach is to make a puppy keep to its regular diet. If you think that your puppy will love you less passionately, your fears are groundless. Dogs’ love is not measured in food.

What Healthy Snacks Can I Give to a Puppy?

Sometimes, snacks and small treats can turn useful. They can strengthen your ties and improve relations. Here are some tips on how to make the most of giving snacks to puppies.

Apples are healthy snacks for puppies

  1. Always consult a vet before buying any food supplements containing vitamins and minerals. If your pup is on a well-balanced diet, excessive vitamin consumption is unnecessary and even harmful.
  2. The same can be said about all types of special dog foods. If your pup suffers from diabetes or kidney disease, you may give it only prescribed, vet-approved foods and supplements.
  3. Some vegetables and fruit, such as apples or carrots, can be used as useful snacks. They contain natural fiber and vitamins, while their calorie count is low.
  4. Don’t forget about fresh drinking water. A puppy must have access to water 24/7, and you must change it regularly to keep it fresh and tasty.

There is one general rule of a thumb: every time you want to change a puppy’s diet or introduce new foods, consult a vet or a breeder. Also, don’t make sudden changes; start with small portions of a new product and watch the dog’s reaction.

When and How Should I Replace Puppy Food with Food for Adult Dogs?

The best time for switching to adult food varies depending on the pup’s breed, overall physical condition, and individual growth rate. Smaller breeds get mature at the age of 9 months, while larger breeds become an adult after 12 months. But whenever you decide to switch to adult food, always do it gradually. The transition period can last several days, up to one week.

Extra Tips on Puppy Feeding

Each mistake in puppy feeding can have a long-term negative effect. Make sure you do your best to create a healthy and well-balanced diet for your small four-legged friend. Here are a couple of additional tips for you to consider.

  • Make sure all members of your family strictly follow the established rules and don’t violate them when you are away. An excessive indulgence for the puppy’s cravings can cause behavioral problems. You need to develop a unified approach to how much to feed a puppy per day and adhere to it.
  • Be cautious about giving bones to your puppy. Beware that pork and poultry bones, as well as any cooked bones, are extremely dangerous. They tend to stick in the throat and cause choking. Small sharp pieces of bones can damage the mucous membrane and even cause hidden bleeding. That said, puppies need to chew something – it is necessary for strengthening their teeth. For this purpose, you can buy special simulated bones and chew toys, which are available at pet stores.

The Bottom Line

Bringing up a puppy is a responsible matter, and this is especially true for its feeding. It’s crucial to find an optimal feeding schedule. We hope our recommendations will help you to make a healthy diet for your beloved four-legged furry ball.

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