What to Feed a Puppy
by Kyle Larson
If your dog is like mine, mealtime is his absolute favorite. If you want your dog to be happy & healthy, the food they eat is critical.
You’ll want to make sure they’re getting the nutrients they need to grow at steady pace and stay healthy. Good food and a feeding routine will also make your life easier as a puppy parent.
Puppy Feeding Timeline
You’ll want to start feeding your dog puppy food. Your pup is growing fast and needs the extra nutrition in the ‘puppy’ varieties of food. You’ll want to be feeding about 4 times per day to space it out.
Switch your feedings down to 3 times per day.
Begin feeding your pup twice per day. For small breeds, switch to adult food around 8 months. For large breeds switch around 13 months.
What to Feed a Puppy
When you first get a puppy it’s best to figure out what food they’re currently eating so you can either continue feeding it to them, or transition them to a new puppy food. This is easier on their stomaches than abruptly changing.
When determining what to feed a puppy, it’s a good idea to speak with your vet and see if they have any food recommendations.
When picking a food you can choose between canned, semi-moist or kibble. In most cases you’ll find kibble to be more economical and well formulated for what your dog needs.
First you’ll want to make sure your food fits your dog. You’ll start with a puppy formulation and eventually move on to adult (see timeline above for what your pup needs now). Also some food is formulated for either large or small breeds. Finally, you’ll notice some price differences. The cheapest food is stuffed with the cheapest ingredients, so its recommended to go with a middle or premium brand. They’ll actually need less quantity because the quality meets your dog’s nutritional needs faster.
How Much Food Should I Give My Puppy?
Once you’ve picked a dog food check out the label for guidelines on the amount needed for your dog’s weight. Keep in mind these are guidelines only, but a good place to start. Divide the total amount by the number of feedings you’re doing per day (e.g. 2 cups of food would be 1 cup per feeding if you’re feeding 2x per day).
Then monitor your pup’s weight. As they’re growing you’ll need to continue increasing the food amount. You want to watch and make sure they’re looking healthy but not overweight. Look to make sure you can’t see ribs and that they have a visible waist and aren’t bulking up too much. Regular vet checks will help give feedback on how they’re doing.
Keep in mind that treats aren’t included in your feeding recommendations. We went a little ‘treat happy’ with our new puppy and he gained too much weight. If you find yourself in this situation, cut back on the treats. They’re generally not as healthy as your dog’s food. You want to find the right balance of total food & treats so your dog has a healthy weight.
You can also give some healthy treats or longer-lasting treats to help slow down the weight gain. Our dog even loves ice cubes as a treat. Or you can take some peanut butter in a Kong and freeze it to make it last longer.
When switching to a new food for a puppy your just adopted or from puppy to adult food its a good idea to transition slowly. This will keep your pet from having stomach issues or getting sick from the quick transition. Before you run out of the previous food, buy some of the new food and give them a few feedings containing both types of food.
- Don’t feed from the table – this encourages begging
- Avoid most human food – human food is full of things that aren’t good for dogs and often has higher calories. This can make your dog sick (and you’ll have to clean up). Some human foods are also poisonous to dogs (including candy, grapes, onions, and chocolate).
- Make feeding time consistent – if you stick to a feeding schedule it’s easier on your dog and you. You may want to avoid feeding your dog immediately when you get home from work as it can encourage separation anxiety.
- Be sure your dog has water – your dog needs to stay hydrated and should have clean water available all the time.
- Beware bones – chicken and pork bones or any cooked bone can easily splinter and harm your dog. Bones that break into fragments can block internal organs and lead to death. You can find chews, treats, and other fake bones or bully sticks that are safer for your dog to enjoy as a treat.
- Is your dog eating too fast? – try flipping a bowl upside down and adding food so it’s harder to get when it’s spread around. Or you can buy a special feeding dish for this purpose. Here are more suggestions.
Other Puppy Guide Articles
- Choosing a Dog Breed – Pick out the best breed to fit your lifestyle
- New Puppy Checklist – Find all the gear you’ll need for your new dog
- Bringing Your Puppy Home – Tips for your pup’s first car trip
- What to Feed a Puppy – Guide to dog food and treats
- Puppy Care Tips – Learn about the vet and general dog care
- Training & Socialization – Get started with training and socializing your dog