How much should I feed my puppy? How often?
While a puppy’s nutritional needs differ from that of an adult dog, the size per serving and the number of meals per day differs too. It’s common for new owners to mistake the care and needs of a puppy with a grown dog.
You should be consistent with the number of meals you feed your puppy per day. While adult dogs can have just 2 meals per day, a young puppy should be given 3-4 meals at regular times.
It’s important to put their food out only for mealtime, and to take it away after they’re finished eating. The goal is to get your puppy on a scheduled eating cycle to help predict potty time.
Puppies should stay with their mothers for the first eight weeks of their life to ensure that they’re getting the right nutrition. Once a puppy is weaned, the dog owner is responsible for the puppy’s health.
What Kind of Food Should My Puppy Eat?
Choose the brand of food that the puppy was eating before you brought him home. Changing brands can sometimes cause digestive problems.
Puppies have fragile digestive systems. Therefore, the transition from old to new food should be slow and gradual. Mix the new food with the old food in small amounts, increasing the amounts every day. Continue this until your puppy’s diet only contains the new food.
Most veterinarians advise dog owners to feed puppies dry kibble. Some dog food brands offer formulas specially created for puppies.
It’s up to you decide when you switch from junior to adult food. It’s not always straightforward because of the varying size of certain dogs and also the difference in growth rate. Depending on the particular breed, around 8-9 months is a common time to start introducing adult food (probably not any earlier). At that age, his growth rate will be reduced and he’ll require a lower level of calories and protein.
Make sure your puppy always has access to a bowl of fresh clean water. It’s important for them to have water to help them digest their food. Change the water regularly as puppies tend to play with it, which makes it dirty.
How Much Should I Give Them?
There’s no exact science to the amount of food you should give your dog, but you can get a sense of how much they need by watching their body language as they eat their meal. Are they devouring their dish or are they just picking at it? Taking note of how they react while eating is usually a good indicator.
Unfortunately, many pet food manufacturers often mark their products with a generalized feeding guide. This can be a touch misleading as different dog breeds require different feeding regimens throughout their lives. It’s up to you and your vet to maintain and regulate a healthy diet for your puppy.
Some people believe that you shouldn’t feed large breeds quantities which encourage maximum growth as they can develop orthopaedic problems from overeating later in life. Consult your vet if you’re concerned about your large breed puppy’s weight.
For more information on this issue, there’s a great article that details it by Healthy Pets.
Say no to snacking
Avoid giving your puppy snacks in between meals. This will upset his diet and lead to excessive weight gain. It will encourage your puppy to develop bad habits such as begging for food between meals.
When you use treats to train your puppy, make sure they are very small and won’t aggregate into a significant meal.
The transition from puppy to adulthood
As stated earlier, feeding a dog is different from feeding a puppy.
The transition period from new food to old food should be a gradual process that takes place over a few days.
On the first day, start by mixing your puppy’s regular food with 25% new food. Every alternate day, increase the percentage of new food by 25%. This slow transition will help promote a healthy digestive system during the diet change.
For more info, check out this article by IAMS™.
Look at your dog from the top down. You should be able to see a clearly defined waist and be able to feel your dog’s ribs without too much fat covering them. Depending on how active your dog is, you should ensure that you are feeding them with these criteria in mind.
It’s important for your puppy to acquire good eating habits at a young age. Make a separate place in your house only for your puppy’s meals. Always place his food and water in the same location.
Remember to always be consistent with mealtime!