Puppies are usually fully weaned by six to eight weeks old, and you may see them start to try their mother’s food from as little as three weeks old. From this point onwards you need to decide how much food to feed your puppy, and what to take into consideration to ensure you are meeting their nutritional requirements.
Infant animals require higher levels of nutrition and energy than their adult counterparts, and puppies are exactly the same. Puppies have a lot of growing to do in a short space of time. Puppies mature at different rates depending on their breed, but will start reaching maturity between 6 and 12 months of age, and will have reached adulthood by two years old. Puppies have a large nutrient demand but only have small stomachs, so they need to receive the required amount of nutrition in a relatively small amount of food; puppy food is specially formulated to be nutrient- and energy-dense.
Owners can start providing softened food for your puppy when they reach six weeks old, and may be fully weaned onto solid foods at eight weeks old. You can start offering them tastes of puppy diet from the beginning of weaning – their mothers should be fed puppy food as soon as you know they are pregnant, until the puppies have been weaned. Pregnant and lactating bitches also have higher nutrient and energy requirements than normal adult dogs, so the puppy diet suits their additional needs.
Don’t wean your puppies completely on to solid food too soon; their digestive systems will not have matured enough to cope with the complete change in diet until the end of the full eight weeks.
What quantity of food should you be feeding?
Judging how much to feed your puppy can be a difficult task, especially when they have such a fast growth rate. James Wellbeloved provide Puppy Feeding Guidelines on all bags of puppy food and our website, helping you to judge how much to feed your new pet. Feeding amounts are based on the expected adult weight of your puppy. If you know what size your puppy’s parents are their expected weight will be easier to calculate.
Puppies often get very excited at meal times, which may result in them overeating which will lead to digestive upsets. It is recommended to feed them small meals on a frequent basis. We suggest that you slowly reduce their meal frequency from six meals a day until they reach six months when two meals will suffice. You should stick to the recommended feeding amounts for your puppy, but split that amount into several portions.
It is essential to feed them the correct amount for their size – too much and they may suffer from diarrhoea, distended stomachs and instil overeating habits that continue into adulthood. Too little food may lead to deficiencies of important nutrients that are necessary for normal growth and health.
You should regularly weigh and body condition score your puppy to ensure that they are growing as they should. Your vet will be able to show you how best to do this.
How should you feed your puppy?
As mentioned earlier, puppies only have small stomachs so it is best to feed them their daily requirement in up to six meals throughout the day. Try and keep these feedings to a schedule so that your puppy has a routine. It is really important that your puppy eats sufficient food to grow properly, and giving them a safe space to eat will help promote a healthy attitude to food. Placing your puppy’s bowl in a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle will help your puppy feel comfortable and happy to eat. It is also important to make sure that your puppy can eat from their bowl easily. Adult bowls may be too deep or wide for your puppy to reach their food, so start them off by feeding them from a shallow dish. Remember, puppies, and all dogs, should have access to fresh water at all times, especially when they are eating.
James Wellbeloved Puppy diets are complete formulas, and provide all the daily nutrition your puppy will need up to being one year old. You can get more dog-feeding information from our articles on ‘what to feed your dog’.