A new puppy in the house? Get ready for loads of fun (make sure they are getting enough exercise) and some puppy love! Oh yes, and the food, of course. With aisles full of dog and puppy food at the pet food store, there is no dearth of options. But do you know how much and how often you should feed your puppy? It might be a little bit confusing for first time puppy owners. Read on for a guide on a general puppy feeding schedule.
Puppy food is slightly different from adult dog food in that it is richer in nutrients and calories. It is high in protein and fortified with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fats that the puppy needs. A puppy grows rapidly during its first six months. After weaning from its mother and coming to a new home, it needs to eat two to four times more food than an adult dog to grow well.
Knowing your puppy’s nutritional needs is very important to know what to feed him. Today, puppy food is made from ingredients that are high in quality and are from good, reliable sources blended together according to specialized formulas. This ensures that the food provides optimum nutrition to the puppies.
Every puppy is different and if you are not aware of the nutritional needs of your puppy or are not sure how long you need to feed puppy food and when to move to adult dog food, consulting the vet is a good idea. Also, ensure that the puppy food you buy from the store conforms to the standards laid by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
Below is a rough guideline on puppy feeding schedule and what to feed the puppy.
Up to three months
- This period typically starts after the puppy has been weaned off its mother’s milk. During this time, feed the puppy four times through the day. The feeds should be spaced out through the day and the time of the feed should be the same every day.
- Smaller meals more times a day ensure that the puppy’s energy levels do not peak or dip too much. Also, smaller meals are easier on their digestive systems.
- The nutritional requirement being high at this point, go for nutrient dense foods like puppy chow, if you are buying commercially available foods. If you want to go for homemade food, speak to the vet. Also, ask the vet about any supplements that the puppy might need at this point.
Three to six months
- Bring down the number of feedings from four to three a day. However, still ensure that the puppy feeding schedule remains same.
- The quantity of food given depends on your puppy’s growth rate and weight and needs to be adjusted according to the advice from the vet.
Six to twelve months
- Your puppy has reached its adolescent age now. This is the time you can further reduce the feedings to twice a day. Again, ensure you are feeding the puppy at the same time every day.
- If the puppy is of a large dog breed, it might not be ready at this stage to reduce the feed to twice a day. If this is the case, continue with three feeds a day.
- If you neuter the puppy around this time, it’s nutritional requirement goes down slightly. Hence, you might want to consider this to decide on the quantity of food. Also, depending on the breed of the puppy, this might be the time to transition to adult dog food.
Important points to remember
- Do not let your puppy become overweight. Monitor its weight in consultation with the vet.
- Do not overfeed the puppy.
- Avoid foods that have corn or meat by-products as their main ingredients. Go for foods with meat as the primary ingredient.
- Stay away from commercially available cheap puppy food which is high on sugars and fillers. These foods are filling, but do not provide the right nutrition to the puppy.
- Switch to adult dog food as soon as the puppy is ready. Do not continue with puppy food longer than necessary. A grown dog does not need the calorie dense puppy food which might make it obese and cause orthopedic problems.
- Smaller breed puppies mature early which means they can be transitioned to adult dog food sooner as compared with large breed puppies.
- Make sure the puppy has a bowl full of water at all times to avoid dehydration.