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Puppy feeding guide: How much should I feed my puppy?

Jun 25 2018

 

Getting a new puppy is exciting, but it is no simple task either, especially, if you are a first-time owner. There is a lot to know before bringing your new puppy home to ensure you are suitably prepared and that he or she will be comfortable. Some of the biggest conundrums are knowing how much to feed puppies, how many times a day and what to feed puppies depending on their age. After all, you can’t trust your puppy to tell you; he or she may eat whatever is put under their nose!

Perhaps you already own a puppy or have owned many in the past but want to see if you can learn something new? Whatever your circumstances, this puppy feeding guide tackles the most common and pressing questions new puppy owners ask when it comes to nourishing their dog.

 

How much food should I feed my puppy?

The amount your puppy needs to eat each meal depends on how much growing they need to do and how many meals a day they are eating. Typically, recommended daily amounts on commercial puppy food packaging are based on the expected adult weight of your puppy. James Wellbeloved provide puppy feeding guidelines on all bags of puppy food to help you judge how much to feed your new pet. If you know what size your puppy’s parents are, then your puppy’s expected weight will be easier to predict. Once you have determined the daily amount appropriate for your puppy, you should divide that food evenly over the number of meals they have per day.

Here are some dog feeding charts based on your puppy’s size, age and expected weight:

 

Puppy feeding guide for puppy food with rice

 

Age of the puppy and daily serving (g)
Body weight (kg) 2 months 3 months 4 months 5 months 6 months 7-8 months 9-10 months 11-12 months 12+months
2 50 58 60 58 57
Change to adult or small breed adult food
5 93 112 116 115 112
10 154 185 193 191 187
15 215 265 285 285 280
Change to junior food
20 240 301 320 319 313
25 270 350 375 375 370
30 306 398 428 431 424
Change to junior or large breed junior
35 321 429 475 483 478
40 354 473 524 532 527
45 375 503 564 580 577

 

Puppy feeding guide for grain free puppy food

 

Age of the puppy and daily serving (g)
Body weight (kg) 2 months 3 months 4 months 5 months 6 months 7-8 months 9-10 months 11-12 months 12+months
2 51 60 61 60 58 Change Change
Change to grain free adult or small breed adult
5 95 115 119 118 115 109
10 158 190 198 196 191 181-172 162
15 199 250 266 265 260 251-239 227-216 215-214
Change to grain free adult
20 246 309 328 327 321 310-295 280-267 266-265
25 275 358 385 387 381 369-355 342-322 311

 

Puppy feeding guide for puppy pouches

 

  Age of the puppy and daily serving (pouches)
Body weight (kg) 2 months 3 months 4 months 5 months 6 months 7-8 months 9-10 months 11-12 months 12+months
2 1.5 2 2 2 1.75
Change to adult
5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.25
10 4.75 5.5 6 6 6 5.5
Change to adult
17 6.5 8 8.5 9 9 8
25 8.5 10.5 11.5 12 12 11.5 10
Change to adult
32 9.5 12 14 14 14 14 13
40 11 14 16 17 17 17 15 14  Change

 

Puppy feeding guide for grain free puppy pouches

 

  Age of the puppy and daily serving (pouches)
Body weight (kg) 2 months 3 months 4 months 5 months 6 months 7-8 months 9-10 months 11-12 months 12+months
2 2.5 2.75 2.75 2.75 2.75
Change to adult food
5 4.5 5.25 5.5 5.5 5.5
10 7.25 8.75 9 9 9 8
Change to adult food
15 9 11 12 12 12 11
20 11 14 15 15 15 14 13
Change to adult food
30 14 19 20 18 18 18 17
40 17 22 25 25 25 24 23 21 Change

When should I switch from puppy food to adult food?

Knowing when to start the switch from puppy food to adult dog food depends on which breed of puppy you have adopted. Consult your vet for a more accurate figure, especially as you approach the suspected date. See our feeding guides above for an approximate timetable of when to switch from puppy food to junior food. Roughly, toy, small and medium dog breeds mature between 8 and 12 months, while large breeds, who have much more growing to do, mature at 12 to 18 months, although some take longer still.

If your dog liked the food you had been feeding him or her while growing towards adulthood, it is a good idea to stick to the same flavours when transitioning to adult dog food. Start slowly by feeding your dog 90% of their usual puppy food with 10% of the new adult food mixed in. Then, once you are sure your dog is eating their food without any problems, you can gradually double down: 20% adult food and 80% puppy food; 40% adult food and 60% puppy food; 80% adult food and 20% puppy food; then, at last, 100% adult food.

 

How many times a day should I feed my puppy?

Puppies should eat between four and six meals a day, while owners often only choose to feed their adult dogs twice per day. This is because puppies still have small stomachs which means they cannot eat a lot before they get full. Yet that doesn’t stop them getting over excited at meal times, which often results in them overeating. Such overheating can lead to digestive upsets, diarrhoea, distended stomachs and instil bad eating habits that continue into adulthood. While there is no “best time” to feed your puppy, you should aim to spread their daily recommended food serving out evenly throughout the day so he or she can keep their energy up. Here is a suggested meal schedule you could follow, keeping in mind you will eventually want to transition to two meals a day when your puppy begins to reach adulthood.

 

6 Meals a Day 4 Meals a Day 2 Meals a Day
07:00 07:00 07:00
09:30  –
12:00 12:00
15:00 15:00
17:00 17:00 17:00
19:00  –

 

Feeding your puppy first thing in the morning will help get them started, while you should avoid feeding your puppy his or her last meal too close to bedtime, so they have time to digest their food and go to the toilet before going to sleep.

Furthermore, we recommend purchasing a puppy sized meal bowl for your new pet. Not only can adult-sized bowls make it awkward for your puppy to eat, but a smaller bowl will remind you not to give them too much in one sitting.

Once your puppy is six months old, they will be approaching adulthood, which means it is time to start transitioning to larger meals but fewer times a day (still feeding them their recommended daily amount as determined by the feeding guide on the food packaging, or as advised by your vet). Gradually move from six meals a day to four, and then two.

A good practice is to think ahead. When would those two meals a day make sense to your future timetable, while allowing your dog a healthy breakfast and afternoon meal? Use those times as part of your six-meal-a-day plan, so your puppy becomes familiar with when to expect his or her food. If your puppy knows when you will put their bowl down for them, and know you feed them reliably at those times, they shouldn’t bother you for food at any other point in the day.

 

My dog isn’t eating. What should I do?

While most puppies will rapidly scoff down whatever food you give them—provided they like the taste, of course—some can be very fussy eaters. Not eating regularly, or at all, can be the symptom of a larger health problem, so you should see your vet and rectify this before turning to the food and your puppy’s eating habits.

The first thing any new or first-time dog owner should do if they suspect their puppy is ill is to go to see a vet. Failing to eat due to illness is normally accompanied by lethargy and a change in behaviour, but not always. You may be able to check for bad teeth, growths, sores or foreign objects in the mouth or throat, but your vet has the tools and know-how to find and diagnose these things faster, as well as take the necessary actions or prescribe the essential medication to help your puppy recover. Furthermore, if your dog is not showing any external symptoms, but is still refusing to eat or is vomiting up his or her food, or suffering from prolonged diarrhoea, then it could be something internal. Don’t try to solve the problem yourself; go and see your vet to give your puppy the best chance of recovery.

Now, assuming your vet has given your puppy a clean bill of health, the next thing to examine is the atmosphere in your home, especially the area where your puppy eats. Try to keep this a quiet space and relatively free of too much foot traffic. While most dogs don’t mind other people being near them while they eat, if your puppy isn’t eating, this could be the reason.

Finally, it’s time to start trying new food. Normally, we would advise switching food slowly by mixing in the new food with the old, gradually introducing the new food and phasing out the old. However, if your puppy won’t even take a bite of the old food, a more immediate change might be the solution. Try a different animal protein, or a different type of food too. For example, if they are not responding to dry dog food, try adding some warm water or add some wet food as a tasty topper.

Remember, puppies need to have a special and balanced diet to grow properly and too little food may lead to growth and health deficiencies. If you are in any doubt about what to do, make an appointment to see your vet.

 

What food is best for a puppy?

So long as the food is nutritious and suitable for puppies, the food you select will be sufficient to help your puppy grow strong. There is a whole host of different types of dog food available to choose from: wet; dry; grain-free; food with fish, rice and vegetables; food for small, medium and large breeds; and light food for dogs needing some help with weight management. James Wellbeloved offer a whole host of different puppy foods which will encourage your puppy to build a healthy appetite and to grow up fit and strong.

 

What can a puppy eat?

Most pet food should be formulated to be a complete diet, meeting all the nutritional and calorific needs of your pet. Puppy food is no different and, so, you should keep your new family member on a strict diet of just their food.

However, we understand that training your puppy is an important part of helping him or her to become a model citizen and of increasing your bond together. Traditional dog treats are a great way of encouraging your puppy to learn, but these should be given sparingly to not disrupt their balanced diet. Portioning off some of your puppy’s daily diet to use as treats is one way of ensuring they don’t over-eat. As a general rule, traditional dog treats and scraps should not make up more than 15% of their daily calorie intake.

Better still, you can use healthy alternatives to treat your dog. While some fruits and vegetables are unsafe for dogs to eat, many can be consumed safely and make great substitutes for traditional treats. They are delicious, effective training snacks and don’t upset your puppy’s diet to the same extent. However, be advised that while some fruit and veg are healthy alternatives, they can be quite hard on young teeth—such as carrot and apple—so, should be given with caution.

Unless your new puppy was born in your home, chances are your dog has already weaned off his or her mother’s milk by the time they come to live with you. Weaning normally takes place at six to eight weeks, after which it is safe to transition to solid food. However, like any change, this shouldn’t be made too suddenly. If your puppy has only just finished weaning, feed them wet food or soften dry food with some water, so it is easier for them to eat.

Wet food can often be more palatable and easy to eat while your puppy still has soft teeth. However, dry kibble is generally better for helping develop teeth and gums. After a couple of weeks, your puppy’s teeth will have started to develop and strengthen, meaning you can make the transition to dry food only, should you wish to do so. If your puppy is still struggling to eat dry food, you can try adding a little water and warming it up until their teeth get stronger.

Lastly, and contrary to some theories, wheat and grain are fine for puppies to eat and grain-free food is just as nutritious as other types of dog food. This is because dogs have evolved to eat carbohydrates in their diet and can now digest it as easily as meat. That being said, like a small percentage of humans, some dogs are intolerant to grain in their diet, so grain-free food is a healthy and delicious alternative.

Whatever you decide to feed your puppy, unless all the food is consumed in one sitting, remember to pick it up and keep it fresh. While dry food can be left out for up to a day, wet or moistened food can go mouldy and should be removed after no more than half an hour. You will need to ensure your puppy constantly has fresh water anyway, so we recommend always feeding your puppy fresh food too.

 

What can’t a puppy eat?

Unfortunately, while some human foods can be consumed safely by puppies in small quantities, there is an exhaustive list of toxic and even life-threatening foods which should be avoided at all costs. Here are just some of the more common ones:

  • Almonds
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ice cream
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Avocados
  • Raisins
  • Alcohol
  • Onion
  • Heavily salted or sweetened food

It is best to only give your dog food which has been specifically manufactured for dogs to avoid any potentially harmful foods, and be careful of leaving toxic food and drink where you puppy can reach.

 

Is puppy food different to adult dog food?

While puppy food should have much of the same ingredients as adult dog food, puppy meals tend to have higher concentrations of essential nutrients. This is because puppies have different requirements to older dogs; just as human babies have different diets to adult humans. Puppies have a lot of growing and developing to do; building these tissues requires lots of protein, calcium and numerous other nutrients, as well as lot of energy.

Feeding a puppy adult dog food means you will need to feed them more often to ensure they get the nutrients they need, or risk stunting their development. One interesting example to illustrate this is that smaller dogs, including puppies, have a higher surface-to-volume ratio than larger dogs, which means that, relative to the amount of body heat they can create, smaller dogs have a larger area through which to lose heat. It is for this reason that puppies don’t only need to eat and exercise more to keep their body temperature at normal levels, but why many tend to love a nice heated dog bed.

Equally, feeding an adult dog puppy food can also be dangerous, as it can lead to an overload of nutrients which can lead to problems later in life. For example, large dogs are already prone to skeletal issues, which the extra calcium in puppy food can exacerbate.

Some dog owners believe the best way to know what you are giving your dog is to prepare every meal yourself. Creating a home-made dog food can be very difficult as you cannot be sure that they are receiving the correct proportions of nutrients. There are a number of myths about the benefits of a raw or home cooked meat diet of which you should be wary, so you don’t risk harming your puppy.

 

Is my puppy overweight?

Puppies are far more likely to overeat than to not eat enough, which is why it is so important to evenly space out their recommended daily food intake via smaller portions throughout the day (about six times a day is sufficient to begin with). If your puppy often eats too much, too quickly, it can lead to them developing long-term weight gain problems. Equally, even if you stick to a strict diet plan, if your puppy doesn’t get enough exercise or indulges in a few too many treats, this will also lead to obesity issues.

Obesity in dogs is just as dangerous as it is in humans. It can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease, to name just two, while the nutrient imbalance and extra strain on the skeleton can lead to arthritis.

So, given how easily puppies can become obese and how bad that is for their health, here are the signs that your pet is overweight:

  • You cannot easily feel their ribs and spine;
  • Placing your hands on their sides, you still can’t see their ribs;
  • They have an oval body shape, rather than a tapered waist;
  • Your puppy might also show hip and neck fat, although this is very rare in young dogs.

If you or your vet determine your puppy is overweight, you should begin an immediate diet plan with consultation with the vet. Delaying too long can lead to a number of health problems for your puppy, including:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Heat intolerance
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Lameness
  • Lowered immune system
  • Increased risk of developing tumours

All of these can lead to a poor quality of life and a shorter lifespan. So, rather than risk these diseases, get your dog out for walks, stop the treats and table scraps and, if necessary, speak to your vet about switching to a lower calorie diet.

 

Is my puppy underweight?

Full or partial anorexia in dogs can lead to a multitude of life-threatening health problems, including the body shutting down to save energy. Prolonged underfeeding will mean your puppy doesn’t get the nutrients they need to grow properly, and can lead to stunted growth, brittle bones and a weak immune system both in the short and long term. Anorexia is a condition which should be treated seriously and urgently. If your puppy doesn’t eat after 24 hours or continually vomits up his or her food, seek help from your vet.

Like with an overweight dog, there are ways of telling if your puppy is underweight:

  • The ribs and spine are obviously pronounced, even when you are not touching their sides;
  • When feeling against their ribs, you feel no hint of fat nor muscle.

An anorexic puppy is much harder to manage than an overweight pet, largely because there are so many things that can cause the problem, including hormonal imbalances and psychological issues. It is also harder to get a dog feeding again after it has stopped than it is to control the diet of an overfed puppy. Once your vet has controlled the problem and come up with a plan for you to follow, you will likely need to begin feeding your puppy small but regular meals until they are able to digest food properly again.

However, if after a check-up, your vet is happy there is nothing physically or psychologically wrong with your puppy, it is time to try our earlier suggestions of first making sure he or she is eating in a quiet and comfortable space, and then try switching their food. You can also give them a few more treats to help encourage their diet and weight gain, but don’t be tempted to overdo this, or you will run the risk of your puppy ignoring his or her meals in favour of some tasty treats.

 

 

Balance a healthy diet with exercise and play

The best guide to how well your puppy is doing physically and mentally is how interactive, sociable and happy they seem. Puppies want to play, they want love and affection, and they want to eat and sleep. So long as they are doing these things, with your help, you will be doing a good job!

While it is up to you which puppy food you buy for your new family member, avoid the traps of home remedies or food meant for human consumption just as you should avoid giving your puppy adult dog food. Puppies need to get the right amount of nutrients to ensure they have the energy they need to grow strong, and the best way to achieve this is to feed your dog puppy food that has been designed with their breed and health in mind.

Once you’ve established which food your puppy enjoys, a meal plan throughout the day, and a healthy exercise routine, your puppy will soon settle into the habits you set for him or her, including when to expect dinner time. From then on, just keep an eye on their eating habits and behaviour and let your vet know if anything changes. Otherwise, focus on enjoying your time with your puppy; training them, playing with them, and maybe slipping them the occasional treat as a reward.

We won’t tell if you won’t.


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