How Often Should You Feed A Puppy

by thooghun

Learn how often you should feed a puppy in order to keep them healthy and strong with the help of this nifty little informative guide!

Don't Let That Soul-Piercing Gaze Break Your Will

how often should you feed a puppy

Once that bottomless gaze acquires it's target, it can be all but impossible to resist the urge to give in. Given also a puppy's need to develop, high activity rate and legendary apetite, it can often be confusing for owners to know when they are striking a healthy diet plan for their beloved pets. 

This article will focus on informing puppy owners on how often, what and when puppies need to eat in easy step-by-step sections. Bear in mind that not all dog breeds and types are identical, this is a general guide, although I'll will make a point of addressing specifics here and there if there are some associated health hazards.

When To Feed Puppies

Dogs are genetically programmed to eat in an opportunistic way (they'll feast their hearts out given the chance) so they can store energy should their food source become scarce. The bottom-line is that a dog's, or a puppy's appetite is not indicative of how much food they need to eat. More than a third of pet dogs nowadays are obese, which presents a far bigger problem in modern households than not getting enough to eat. 

Most modern day pet food for both large and small breeds provide adequate cover against nutritional deficiencies, especially because it is becoming increasingly targeted (junior or puppy food, large, small e.t.c). 

  • 1-8 weeks - Do not try to separate the puppy from it's mother before the 8 week deadline because it can lead to long-lasting psychological malaise. Try and let the process happen naturally. In addition to this, nutrients from a their mother's milk is not only complete, it also provides puppies with much needed substances (particularly during the first couple of days after birth). Be omnipresent for the first few days to make sure all puppies are getting their fill!
  • 8-12 weeks - This is around the time when puppies will become more extroverted and may even begin to identify more with you. It is generally agreed that it is best to feed puppies 3 to 4 times a day, time permitting. If you can't sustain a 4-time-a-day schedule, divide the existing food into two larger doses and do it that way. 
  • 3-6 months - Two important things will need to be faced during this time. Firstly, you should begin to trim down his portions to twice daily, if you are doing four. The second is to be on the lookout for signs of loss of appetite or any other subtle signs your puppy is teething. While beginning to lower food value a little is not a bad idea, if your puppy is not eating or shows other signs of discomfort it may be time to double check with a vet. 
  • 6 months + - At some point (usually close to a year) your puppy will need to make a dietary switch to adult food. It is usually best to consult a professional for advice about timing. If you decide it's high time this happened, remember to switch over in stages and in a gradual fashion. 

How often should you feed a puppy is only one of many important question in the development process. Let's take a closer look at what we should feed them. 

What To Feed Puppies

Most high-quality brands of pet food will contain guidelines on the size of the dog or puppy it is meant for. Be particularly careful about picking the right food, and remember to consider the following important facts. 

  • Is the food acceptable for the size of your breed?
  • Is the food acceptable for this stage of my puppy's development? Stick with puppy foods until you're sure the puppy is all grown up. 
  • Is the food AAFCO approved?
  • Double check the ingredients and steer clear of brands which do not specify what kind of meat or product it contains. Bear in mind that many poor quality foods contain fillers and little else, which means the puppy will actually have to eat more of the same product to get the nutrients it needs, leading to health problems down the road. Make sure the product in question contains more than just the basics. 
  • If you were pleased by the puppy food offered by a particular brand, know that usually a brand will offer food for all stages of development, so it's a good idea to move up the chain with the same brand.

I know many people that like to cook their own food for the dogs, but I do not consider myself qualified to outline an exhaustive and fail-safe dietary plan for all breeds. I would strongly urge DIY pet owners to consult a veterinarian to hammer-out a workable plan in this case. Consider also that larger dogs and select breeds grow at different rates.

How Much Do I Feed Them?

The amount a puppy needs to eat will depend on what breed or size they are and their activity level, almost all high-quality puppy foods will contain information regarding dosages on the label. Make sure you weigh the pup now and then so you can make dietary changes as they grow (unless they need to lose weight!). 

One of the best ways to check if a puppy is getting too much or too little foods is to manually check yourself by running your hand along their lower-sides and check how much fat they have covering their ribs. 

Some Important Tips

The young the pup, the better it will learn. Training puppies is imperative, especially with regards to food. While it may seem cruel on occasion, it usually ends up benefiting both your dog and the household. Some important tips include:

  • Try to make a habit of chatting or being close to the dog (without getting in the way of it's food) while it feeds. This way, they won't grow up being overly aggressive or possessive when it comes to feeding. 
  • Avoid inadvertently encouraging begging! Do not feed it snacks when it stares deeply at your eyes. Do not feed it from your plate, and from your food. 
  • Eat before your puppy! In the wild, pack leaders eat first, it will help with potential power tug-of-war scenarios when they are older. 
  • Only fill their bowl when it's time to eat, but make sure their water is always topped up!
Updated: 01/07/2012, thooghun
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Sam on 01/21/2012

You are welcome thoogun, another great site is called '4 paws university (4pawsu)' don't want to 'spam' your comments with too many links, but the articles on that site are really up to date when it comes to dog behavior and very well written ;-)

thooghun on 01/21/2012

Thanks for the heads-up Sam! :)

Sam on 01/20/2012

Nice article, but this bit "Eat before your puppy! In the wild, pack leaders eat first, it will help with potential power tug-of-war scenarios when they are older." is a bit outdated. The whole 'packleader theory', together with the alpha dog / wolf myth is pretty much history, see as a good starting point. So, no need to eat before your puppy eats ;-)

thooghun on 01/08/2012

Thank you PartyAnimal! ;)

ThePartyAnimal on 01/08/2012

Great advice !!

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