There’s a lot to plan for a puppy’s arrival. At the top of the list is how much to feed a puppy. Your puppy’s portions depend on his breed, weight, and age. Plan ahead and create a puppy feeding schedule that is consistent, nutritionally balanced and meets his energy requirements.
Why feeding puppies puppy food is important
Puppies need a lot of calories, extra protein, and more fat to help sustain growth, so puppy food is balanced accordingly. Typically, puppy food also includes some of the nutrients found in mother’s milk, like the Omega Fatty Acid DHA.
To ensure you’re selecting a puppy food, make sure it is labeled specifically for puppies or says “for all life stages” somewhere on the package.
Puppy feeding chart
How much to feed a puppy and how often to feed a puppy depends first and foremost on his age. The easiest way to remember how much to feed a puppy is to create a puppy feeding chart that matches your puppy’s breed and weight at maturity.
Very young puppies need to eat a high-quality puppy food diet approximately 3 to 4 times per day. The frequency of feeding puppies goes down to 3 times per day at around 3 to 6 months of age, and 2 times per day at around 6 to 12 months.
After about a year, most puppies can transition to a nutritionally balanced adult dog food diet 2 times per day.
|How much to feed a puppy|
|8 – 12 Weeks||Small Portions||3-4x/day|
|4 – 5 Months||Puppy Food||3x/day|
|6 – 8 Months||Puppy Food||2x/day|
|9 – 11 Months||Adult Food||2x/day|
|1 – 2 Year*||Adult Food||2x/day|
|2 Year +*||Adult Food||2x/day|
|Check the back of your puppy’s food packaging to get accurate portion sizes for his weight.|
*Toy and smaller breeds may be able to transition to adult food a little earlier (some as early as 7 to 9 months), while some giant breeds don’t reach adulthood until around 18-24 months. Ask your veterinarian for specific guidance here, and if you have any doubts as to when your puppy has officially become a full-grown dog, keep him on puppy food a little longer. When it comes to feeding puppies, it’s better to give a few extra nutrients than not enough.
What to feed puppies in the first year
As a new pet parent, you’ll find no shortage of dog food choices for feeding puppies. Puppies grow at a rapid pace, and a few food transitions are to be expected.
Starting Solids: 8 weeks old
- Typically, solids introduced at 8 weeks of age.
- Transition the pup slowly to solids, usually over 5 – 7 weeks.
- At first, wet the kibble with water.
- Allow the kibble to soak for a few minutes so that’s it’s soft.
- Continue to wet the kibble with water over several weeks.
- Each week use 1 tsp less water to soften the food.
- By week 3 – 4, your puppy’s meals should be mostly crunchy kibble.
- At week 7, he should be fully transitioned onto the dry dog food.
Regular Feeding: 6 – 12 months old
- At 6 to 12 months establish regular eating times.
- Start serving 2 feedings per day.
- Create your own puppy feeding schedule routine.
- The first step on the schedule is to leave the bowl of food on the floor for a set amount of time.
- For beginners, start with 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how fast your dog eats.
- Be consistent with the schedule and always use the same place to feed your dog, same time, and same time period.
- Your dog will learn how this schedule works for the next 2 weeks.
- Once your puppy is familiar with regular meal times you’ll find that they’re followed by regular potty times.
- Bonus! More solid foods make picking up after your pup a lot easier.
Switching to Adult Dog Food: 1+ years
- Adult dog food is introduced from a year old.
- Transition your puppy slowly by mixing the new food into his puppy portions.
- Meals should be a mix of 75% puppy food to 25% adult food.
- Continue to serve mixed portions for about 2 – 3 days.
- Gradually increase the adult food and decrease the puppy food by 10%.
- By day 5 or 6, your puppy should be fully transitioned, eating 100% adult food.
- Patience is key and a slow transition will help your puppy’s stomach adjust.
- The whole process should take about a week.
Which dog food diet is healthier: Wet vs Dry vs Raw
Selecting a puppy food can be daunting. Most major dog food companies work with pet food nutritionists and adhere to strict guidelines for creating complete and balanced nutrition. The most important thing to remember when choosing a dog food diet is that it’s appropriate for your pup’s life stage.
While there are many pros and cons of what to feed a puppy, the best food for your pup is the one that he enjoys eating, fits in with your budget and your family’s needs, and has your veterinarian’s seal of approval.
|Wet food*||Dry food*||Raw food|
|Available in cans or tubs||Available as kibble|
|High moisture content||Convenient access travels well|
|Dog feels full quicker||easy to store|
|Good for breeds prone to weight gain||more economical than wet food|
|Pup stays hydrated||stays fresh longer|
|Palatable and easier to chew||Crunchy morsels clean teeth|
|Messier to eat than dry food||Must be stored in a dry area to avoid bugs||Can contain harmful bacteria|
|Bit more expensive||Should be properly sealed||Requires additional nutrients in accurate proportions|
|Refrigerate within 2 hours||Unbalanced meals can cause bowel and gastrointestinal distress|
|Not advised for puppies|
* Always follow veterinarian recommendations and/or instructions on the bag.
4 Tips to maintain a puppy feeding schedule
You’re well on your way to feeding your pup a perfectly healthy diet. Just don’t overdo it on treats. Keep in mind that treats should take up no more than 10% of your puppy’s total food quota for the day.
Finally, pay attention to your pup’s cues and always keep the following in mind:
- Stick to dog food and skip the table scraps; some human foods can make your dog sick.
- Keep fresh water out along with any food, and clean both food and water bowls regularly.
- Don’t start a medical diet or supplements without a prescription or recommendation.
- Always consult a veterinarian with any questions you may have.
Learn more about feeding a dog