Getting a new puppy is an exciting time. But it can also be overwhelming with so much new information to take on. One of the biggest areas of concern for new puppy owners is food. In addition to worrying about what to feed, there are questions around how much to feed and for how long. In this article we’ll coverall the key points you need to know:
- How often you should feed your puppy based on their age
- How much you should feed your puppy based on their weight, age and breed
- What to feed your puppy based on your lifestyle and preferences
- What to consider when making any changes to your puppy’s diet
How often should you feed your puppy?
Puppies develop at a rapid rate. Between the day they are born and 8 weeks of age (the earliest a puppy should leave its mother) they go from not being able to walk or see to eating solid food.
They will then, depending on their breed, go on to reach their fully-grown size between 6 and 12 months. (Some very large breeds aren’t fully grown until they are 2 years of age). So, you can see how important their nutritional needs are.
As a rule of thumb however, you should be feeding as follows:
- 2 – 3 months: 4 meals a day
- 4 – 6 months: 2-3 meals a day
- 6 + months: 2 meals a day (depending on breed)
Puppies are known for overeating, so it is important that you carefully measure out and keep track of what you do feed. Don’t be tempted to over feed. Their frame is quite delicate, and you could put undue pressure on it if they gain weight too quickly.
How much you should feed your puppy?
Puppies need to be fed little and often. They have small stomachs so need to spread their calorie intake across the day.
How much you feed them will be based on their weight, age and breed. Larger breed puppies need fewer calories per unit of body weight compared to smaller breeds because they grow at a slower rate. Over feeding them can go on to cause issues with their skeletal structure in later life.
As a rule, stick to the feeding guidelines outlined on your choice of food’s packaging. This will be a suggested weight amount between a particular range based on the puppy’s age and weight. For example, 3 – 4 months and 5 – 10 kg.
When working out what to feed, also consider any training treats and other food you may be feeding in addition to their set meals per day. In fact, using your puppy’s food for training can be a great way to get some puppy training in while not over feeding on additional treats.
What should I feed my puppy?
You’ll be inundated with choices for what to feed your puppy. Most popular is a good quality dried complete food. These are easy to store, easy to measure and contain the perfect balance of nutrients your growing pup needs.
Some people prefer to feed a wet complete meal – either from a tin, a pouch or a tray. These can be particularly good for smaller breed puppies who may struggle to chew biscuits with their smaller puppy teeth or fussier eaters.
In recent years, there has been an increase in popularity for a raw fed diet – or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) as it is otherwise known. Based on a more homemade diet, it consists of raw meat, bones, vegetables and fruit, it avoids all processed foods and grains. You don’t have to make it yourself either, there are a number of top-quality raw food producers (and available in store).
Your choice of food should be based on what suits your your lifestyle and your dog best. If in doubt, pop in store to speak to the helpful staff.
Before you make any changes to your puppy’s diet, read this.
When your puppy is about 90% of its expected adult weight, you can move him or her over onto an adult diet.
As mentioned earlier though, while most breeds will be fully mature at 12 months, it is relevant to size and smaller dogs will mature quicker and large/giant breeds much, much slower.
Whenever the time comes to switch, do it gradually as you will almost certainly upset its stomach otherwise.
If you wish to introduce a new food (even if it’s the same brand but a different food), do it gradually over the course of a few days – reducing the amount of the old food and substituting it with the new food. This way your puppy’s stomach will have time to adjust without upset.
If you have any questions about the food options available, why not pop in store and have a chat with our friendly and knowledgeable staff?
And remember, if you are at all in doubt or have any concerns about your pet’s eating, physical development or weight, please speak to your vet.