How Much Should You Feed a Puppy?

eatingWhen we think about what a puppy needs in order to have a happy and stress-free life, it does not make for a very long list. Aside from food, exercise, and a lot of cuddles and attention, that’s about all they need. Of course, out of these, food is the most important, and it is also the one that requires the most forethought and planning.

Let me walk you through how to choose the right food, how much to feed your puppy, how often to feed your puppy and a few other feeding-related considerations. By the end, you should have the confidence to buy the right food and set an eating schedule for him or her. This will ensure your four-legged friend is properly nourished and has a well-adjusted digestive system through these happy first months of life as well as into adulthood.

What Food to Give Your Puppy

Even though feeding your dog may seem daunting, take it step-by-step and understand the needs of your puppy. His meals should be specially formulated for puppies. If so, he will be healthy and well-balanced. Don’t skimp and try to feed him food for adult dogs, or even people-food. Emphasize quality in your purchase of puppy food. These meals are critical for his development. Look for protein-rich food that doesn’t have cheap fillers or additives. Many of these are not good for puppies and do not help them properly grow.
Your puppy may have special dietary needs. Some foods may make his stomach upset causing vomiting and/or diarrhea. If this is the case, the transition to another product gradually over the course of 2-3 days, each day adding more of the new food and less of the unwanted food.

How Much to Feed Your Puppy

food for young canineFirst of all, puppies eat a lot. Their quickly growing bodies need plenty of food for fuel! Pay attention to the feeding recommendations for the particular food you choose to feed your puppy. However, you may have to make adjustments based on factors that are specific to certain dog breeds and sizes. Usually, the portion recommendations will be broken up according to the puppy’s weight.

It is perfectly fine for your puppy to have a healthy appetite. Keep an eye on his weight though as obesity can be an issue even at such as young age. If your little guy is getting too chunky, reduce his food a bit. Overfeeding can over-stimulate growth depending on the breed. His veterinarian can also help you determine the ideal body weight for his breed and age. One key point is to remove food that your puppy has not eaten within about 15-20 minutes. Then reduce the portion size accordingly for the next meal.

When to Feed Your Puppy

The ideal feeding schedule is a meal at 7 am, another meal at noon, and a third and final meal at 5 pm. Provide three equal-portioned and measured meals. Of course, this schedule may not be ideal for you the owner due to work or family considerations, and it is definitely not the only times available. For example, an early meal before work and then two meals in the late afternoon can also work well. However, the meals should be at least three hours apart, so that your pup has adequate time to properly digest them. This is especially important with the final meal, so that he has time to poop before bed.

Be consistent with your puppy’s feeding schedule. Even if there is a long gap between two of the meals, your puppy will grow accustomed to it quickly. Do not vary the schedule from day-to-day. Every day should have approximately the same schedule — including weekends!

Other Considerations

canine relaxingSpeaking of pooping, puppies will need to relieve themselves shortly after eating. Be prepared as soon as 20 minutes after eating to take him outside. This needs to be taken into account when developing a feeding schedule since you do not want to feed your puppy and then immediately leave him alone in the house.

Allow your puppy to have their space when eating, away from other family pets and children. They should not be played with or distracted while feeding. One possibility, especially if no other is available to you, is to feed him in his dog crate. Aside from it being quiet, it also serves the purpose of helping with potty-training. Dogs do not like to poop where they sleep or eat, so keeping him in their enclosure for about 15 minutes after eating will get him used to wait for a little before relieving himself.

Be considerate, and do not forget to let him outside after 15-25 minutes. You may also need to carry the little guy from the crate to the door until he is old enough to understand and have the ability to wait until he gets outside to do his business.

The Transition to Dog-hood

Your puppy’s feeding schedule should be followed until the little guy is about 14 to 18 weeks old. After that, he can be fed two meals a day instead of three. You can gradually reduce the amount of food during one of the feeding times over a few days to allow him time to adjust to the new schedule. In the end, he will be left with two daily meals, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.

Note that some small breeds only need to be fed once a day as they enter adulthood. Most older puppies of medium and large breeds are fine with two meals a day.
If you follow these recommendations, you will have a well-fed, happy, healthy, strong, and energetic four-legged companion for many, many years. I wish you the best of luck!