Submitted by Amber Drake
If you’re adopting a new puppy, you are probably looking forward to all the fun, the kisses, and the snuggles. You’re looking forward to watching her grow from an adorable little puppy to a loving, well-rounded, healthy adult dog.
As you know, puppies don’t stay little forever. Puppies grow extremely fast. And part of what’s expected of you is understanding the nutritional requirements for your growing pup.
How often should you feed your puppy? What should you feed her? Let’s find out.
Six to 12-weeks Old Pup
After puppies are taken from their mother to be in a forever home, they need to eat continuously throughout the day. If you think about it, their mother was the food source for their whole life thus far. And, your puppy could eat any time he wanted to. Basically, free-feeding
As a general recommendation, puppies who are six to twelve-weeks-old should eat four meals (the same amount each time) during the day. Try to stick as close to the same time every day, too.
Your puppy should be eating puppy food only. Food specifically designed for puppies are made to fit the nutrition requirements for a growing pup.
If you want to make their meals yourself, you should first discuss the decision with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you design a meal plan that fits your individual puppy’s needs.
Three to Six-Months-Old
Once your pup hits three months old, you can eliminate one feeding period. You will now only have to feed her three times per day instead of four. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Simple, right? And again, it’s recommended she eats the same time each day and each meal is proportional to the other.
Six to Twelve-Months-Old
Your puppy is starting not to look like a puppy anymore at this stage in their life. Once your pup hits six months of age, you can drop another food period. You’ll now be feeding her two times per day instead of three.
When Can I Transition to Adult Food?
This is a hard question to answer because it truly depends on your individual dog. But, as a general guideline, dogs who are small-breed can switch to adult dog food between seven and nine months of age. Dogs who are on the larger side shouldn’t be taken off puppy food until they’re at least one year old.
Once your dog hits one-year-old, you can stay feeding him twice per day at the same time each day.
How Much Food is Too Much?
Here’s another question that’s hard to answer. This also depends on your individual, unique dog. You can start by taking a look at the feeding guidelines on the food package. Remember, this is only a general guideline. It’s your responsibility to make sure she isn’t eating too much or too little.
The best way to determine how much your pup should eat is via observation. If you see she’s getting heavier (and not in a good way), you may want to control her portions a bit more. If she leaves food in the dish, you’ll see how much food she eats at each meal.
To prevent early obesity, consideration should be provided regarding how many treats she eats per day. Treats should never be more than 10% of their total diet. Yes, that includes our food scraps too.
The Bottom Line on Puppy Nutrition
The bottom line here is every puppy is different. As professionals, we can provide a guideline, but you know your dog the best. As you feed her, you’ll learn how much food she needs to be ‘full.’
If you have any questions at all regarding her nutrition, contact your veterinarian and ask for an appointment to discuss her diet.