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navigating puppyhood

A guide to feeding your new puppy

schedule, portion sizes, and proper nutrition // set your pup up for a long, healthy, and happy life

Updated April 10, 2020

Created By

Andy Bowen,

the essentials

  • A regular feeding schedule is key. It’s crucial to feed puppies on a regular schedule to maintain healthy weight gain and physical development.
  • Puppies need more calories than adults. Puppies need more to eat, more frequently. It’s normal for them to seem a bit chubby.
  • Keep fresh water out at all times. Leaving multiple bowls out is a good idea. And be sure to clean them every day or so to keep bacteria from building up.

When to feed your puppy

👉 A regular feeding schedule helps regulate your puppy’s digestive system and simplifies housetraining by making poopy time predictable.

Puppies have a turbo-charged metabolism with different nutritional needs. They eat a lot more frequently when they’re young. The rule of thumb is to take the total cups of food recommended for your puppy’s daily diet and divide it by the number of meals you’ll serve in a day.

Puppy feeding chart

Setting a healthy routine

Age Meals per day
Weaned to 12 weeks 4
Three to six months of age 3
Six months to one year 2
One year and older 2 half-portions

How much to feed your puppy

👉 Puppies generally require 70 calories a day per pound of body weight 

Puppies need up to two or three times as many calories as adult dogs. They may be little chubsters for a few weeks, but that’s totally normal. The best rule of thumb is to determine your puppy’s caloric intake based on its weight.

Puppy caloric intake

The average amount of calories your puppy needs

Weight (lbs) Calories required per day
3 150
5 200
10 700
15 950
20 1200
30 2100
40 2400

A few more tips

Watch your puppy’s waistline more than their appetite Some pups may seem ravenous all the time, and some may need some encouragement to eat.

Remember that all breeds are unique — Certain breeds and puppies with special medical considerations may require a different approach. Always consult with your vet about your individual puppy’s needs.

These numbers are averages — Cups of food are based on an average calorie count of dry puppy food. Be sure to check your food of choice to make sure your puppy’s total calorie intake is sufficient

How and when to switch to adult dog food

Graduation from puppyhood generally falls between 12-18 months old — that’s when your puppy should have reached its full adult weight. At that point, you should switch to regular adult dog food.

The best way to introduce a new adult food to your puppy is to slowly mix it in with their puppy food. Start with three parts of puppy food, one part adult food, and increase the ratio of adult dog food over the next week to two weeks. There’s no rush! It’s important to give your puppy’s digestive system time to adjust.

Choosing between wet and dry food

Dry kibble is generally regarded as the best option for dogs of all ages, especially puppies. Munching on those pellets helps your puppy maintain healthy gums and prevent the buildup of plaque. (Remember: You should brush your pup’s teeth every day.) On top of that, solid foods have a longer shelf-life. It’s far less likely that your pup’s dry kibble will spoil or become infested with bacteria.

Canned wet food or semi-moist food in sealed packets are also good options. Despite the advertisements, they’re not necessarily any more nutrient-rich than kibble. Big manufacturers like Purina and Blue Buffalo spend millions of dollars on testing and case studies every year. If you decide to use wet food make certain you follow the storage instructions on the label.

A lot of pet blogs recommend mixing wet and dry food. While that’s not necessarily bad, keep in mind that wet food often packs more calories into a smaller amount of food. Just make sure to crunch the numbers. As long as you’re on top of your dog’s caloric intake, all is well.

FAQs

Should I feed treats to my puppy?

Treats are valuable training tools for little ones! Having low-calorie, high-quality treats available to reward a very good dog is perfectly healthy.  If you find that you’re using a high number of treats for training, you’ll want to ensure that you’re not going way over your puppy’s calorie count for the day.  Trainers recommend using a portion of your puppy’s daily kibble as their treats if you’re training frequently.

Don’t feed your puppy table scraps — We strongly advise against this. There are a bunch of human foods dogs can’t eat. Plus, feeding your puppy from the table is a habit that’s hard to break later in life.

What if my puppy seems hungry all of the time?

Keep an eye on your puppy’s body weight by holding him while you’re on a scale. If their weight falls into the normal range but they still seem like they’re starving all the time, ask yourself two questions:

Is my puppy super active?
It’s easy to forget how a simple walk around the yard is much more taxing on a small puppy. Activities that are effortless for you will burn a lot more calories for your pup, thus they have to make those up.

Is my puppy teething? 

When puppies cut their teeth, kibble can be a great way to massage their gums and help with pain. However, that puts them at risk of overfeeding at each meal time. That’s why it’s important to keep chew toys on hand.

👉If your pup is consistently ravenous for several days despite the low activity and plenty of chew toys, call your vet.