How Much to Feed a Puppy? (the most important factors)
In case you missed this, calculating how much to feed a puppy is never easy. There’s much at stake here. For starters, what kind of puppy food are you in for? What breed of puppy are you adopting?
As you start answering the first set of questions, others follow. Such as do you want wet or dry food or both? If so, how much wet food can you feed your puppy in a day? And how much dry food on the same day? What is the right kind of nutrition for puppies?
I know this can be a bit overwhelming. But with help from your most trusted veterinarian, you can scratch off most questions. And if you want to dig a little deeper, this article should come in handy.
If you’re relying on your pet store to give you something concrete, don’t. Every pet-food shop is overloaded with tens of food options. There are many different ingredients and flavors to buy. Different blends for specific purposes such as digestion, immunity, metabolism, and sensitivity, etc.
In that, you have wet dry with gravy or jelly, dry food kibbles, and puppy treats.
For a first-time puppy owner, this can be intimidating. And you’d rather not buy anything at all on your way out of the pet shop. Rather than buy food that’s completely wrong for your puppy’s nutrition and well-being.
Every puppy, no matter if they’re the same breed, is unique. Your puppy may or may not be sensitive to some kind of ingredients. And having another puppy parent telling you that it’s okay to eat this-or-this food, is not okay! You must talk to your vet about your puppy’s food habits.
You can look at your puppy’s feeding habits based on the following factors.
1. Age / Frequency
Puppyhood can last for up to a year. But that’s not enough to determine how much to feed a puppy. You must go beyond that.
First Stage – 6 weeks to 3 months
This is the first stage of puppyhood. The puppy needs proper nutrition for growth and sustainability. This means special puppy food and not adult food. Puppy food contains all the essential nutrients for strengthening and growth.
For an average puppy, feeding 4 times a day is sufficient. You can start by feeding your puppy wet food as that is easier to digest. This gives your pup enough nutrients and prevents them from going hungry.
Second Stage – 3 months to 6 months
This is when you start feeding your puppy dry food. If it’s a small breed, take your time introducing kibble into your pup’s wet food. If it’s a large breed, you can switch without worries.
Dry food has more carbohydrates than wet food. So you can reduce the feeding from 4 times to 3 times a day. In this stage, most puppies get a trimmed potbelly. The pudginess usually melts away after 12 weeks.
4 times a day is more than enough to sustain your pup’s nutrition and growth.
Third Stage – 6 months to 1 year
This is the last stage of puppyhood. Your puppy is active, interactive, and quite playful by this point. If you plan on spaying or neutering your puppy, expect a drop in energy.
This is when you must introduce your pet to adult dog food for maintenance. Your pup has all the nutrients it needs for growth and development. Make sure you don’t overfeed your puppy food as that may cause weight gain.
Puppy food contains high calories, micronutrients, and protein. This gives your pup enough nourishment for better health and development.
2. Time / Quantity
It’s not enough to know the frequency of feeding. You need to know the exact time and quantity of food. So as to keep up your puppy’s growing needs and energy levels.
This is where you’re feeding your puppy wet or jelly food. Some pet owners soak dry kibbles in water until it’s soft. And there are some who buy semi-moist food with crunchy bits of kibble for the puppy to chew through easily.
1/2 cup of puppy food or kibbles is the ideal amount per meal. The first stage is the easiest of them all. Since you’re feeding your pup 4 times a day. You can spread it over a few hours between each meal. So that’s early morning, afternoon, early evening, and night.
This is when you switch to adult food. If you soaked the kibbles during the first stage, this should be easier for you. Adult dog food is thicker and offers a dog a complete diet and nutrition.
3/4 cup of adult dog food is essential per meal. This is where you have to observe your puppy’s eating habits. How often he/she becomes hungry and demands food? How active he/she is? When he/she sleeps?
We often look at a puppy’s weight chart to determine the right amount. This is to prevent weight gain and other digestive issues. Also, it depends on what breed your puppy is. A smaller breed needs less food than a large breed. This also affects how much to feed a puppy.
However, from the 6th month, things start to change. You can feed your puppy 3/4 – 2 cups of food per meal.
Weight indicates feeding. This has been true for all dog breeds whether small or medium or large.
Here’s a quick puppy feeding chart to swear by.
- 5– 10 pounds – 8 to 10 tablespoons
- 10 -20 pounds – 12 to 16 tablespoons
- 20 pounds and above – 20 tablespoons to 28 tablespoons
No matter what you do, never leave the food down. Give your puppy 10-15 minutes to eat. This sets a fixed feeding routine for your dog. Overfeeding, especially during puppyhood, can lead to obesity and other problems. It may also trump your puppy’s natural growth.
If you plan on doing more feedings per day, please consult with your vet. Most puppies eat 3-4 times a day and they as grow into adulthood, 2 times per day is ideal. This is enough to keep any puppy active, energetic, and playful all day.
In the case of tummy aches, vomiting, or lack of appetite, you must see a doctor. You can also change your puppy’s food because you never know what your pup is sensitive to. All that being said, keeping your dog healthy and happy is a priority!