So you’ve got a new puppy—congrats! Puppies are adorable but need much care and attention, especially when fed properly. As a new puppy owner, one of the first questions you may have is how much I should provide for my little furball. Depending on your puppy’s age, size, breed, and degree of activity, the amount can vary significantly. The recommendations on the dog food bag are just guidelines, and your vet is the best source of information for your puppy’s needs.
But as a general rule of thumb, most puppies do well, starting with three scheduled feedings a day of high-quality puppy food. The early weeks and months will likely involve a lot of trial and error because your pup’s appetite and needs will swiftly alter as they mature. But with enough love and patience, you’ll find your rhythm, and your dog will flourish.
Calculate Your Puppy’s Calorie Needs
It would help if you established your puppy’s calorie needs before figuring out how much to feed them daily. This depends on their age, size, and activity level.
To promote their growth, puppies require more calories than adult dogs do. As a rough guide, puppies need about 50 calories per pound of body weight daily. So if you have a 3-month-old Lab puppy that weighs about 15 pounds, they may need around 750 calories per day (15 lbs x 50 calories = 750 calories).
Of course, the more active your pup is, the more they’ll need. An energetic puppy may need 60–70 calories per pound, while a less active one may only need 40–50. It’s best to ask your vet for their recommendation based on your puppy’s age, breed, and size.
As your puppy gets older, their calorie needs will decrease. You’ll want to gradually cut back on their portions to account for their slower growth. For most puppies, you can reduce amounts by about 10% every four weeks until they’re 6–12 months old.
Keeping track of your puppy’s body condition will help ensure they stay on the right track. You should be able to see their ribs without them being prominent, and they should have a visible waist when viewed from above. If your puppy seems too thin or is putting on excess pounds, you may need to increase or decrease their calorie intake.
With the proper amount of nutritious food, your little one will get what they need to grow up happy and healthy. Be patient through trial and error, ask your vet for guidance, and your puppy’s chow time will become second nature.
Choose a High-Quality Puppy Food
So, you’ve brought home your new furry friend, and now you’re wondering how much you should feed them. As a puppy, your dog needs more calories than an adult dog to support their growth, typically around 50–100% more. The exact amount will depend on age, size, and activity level.
- For most puppies, 3–4 small meals a day are ideal. Feed them when they first wake up, at lunch, dinner, and before bed. This will prevent them from getting too hungry and make housetraining easier.
- Follow the guidelines on your puppy’s food bag according to their age. For example, a typical recommendation for a 3-month-old Lab puppy is 3–4 cups per day. But every pup is different, so use this as a starting point.
- Watch your puppy’s body condition and adjust as needed. You should be able to see and feel their ribs without pressing hard, and they should have an obvious waist when viewed from above. If your puppy looks too thin or weighs too much, you may need to feed him a little more or less.
- Measure out your puppy’s daily amount and split it into separate meals. For example, if your pup should get 3 cups a day, you could do 1 cup at each mealtime. Serve the measured amount at each meal, and avoid leaving food out all the time so you know exactly how much they’re eating.
- As your puppy ages, decrease to 2-3 meals a day. Most puppies can transition to twice-a-day feeding around 4-6 months. Talk to your vet about the right time to switch your specific pup.
Your little furball will grow up happy and healthy with patience and proper nutrition. Measure, monitor, and adjust as needed, and in no time, you’ll be a pro at feeding your puppy the right amount.
Determine the Proper Portion Sizes
You’ll need to consider their age, size, and breed to determine How much dog food should the puppy eat. Generally, most puppies should eat about 1 to 2% of their body weight in high-quality puppy food daily, split into 3 or 4 meals.
For example, if you have a 3-month-old Labrador puppy that weighs about 15 pounds, you would feed her about 5 ounces of puppy food three times a day (15 lbs x 0.015 = 0.225 lbs = 3.6 ounces per meal, rounded to 5 ounces or about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of kibble). You would feed a bit less for a smaller breed like a Chihuahua. As your puppy grows, decrease the number of meals to 2 or 3 times a day, but increase the portion sizes.
- For puppies 2 to 3 months, feed them three times a day. For 3 to 6 months, provide them 2-3 times. After six months, most puppies can transition to eating twice a day.
- Always follow the recommended feeding amounts on the puppy food packaging based on your puppy’s age and size. It’s best to measure out portions instead of free feeding, especially at first. This allows you to monitor how much they’re eating and make sure they’re getting enough.
- Have fresh, clean water available for your puppy at all times. Puppies must drink frequently, so change and refill the water bowl daily and more often if needed.
- Treats should make up no more than 10% of your puppy’s daily calories. While training your puppy, use small treats in moderation and avoid table scraps.
- Take your puppy for regular vet checkups to make sure they’re growing at a healthy rate. Your vet can evaluate if you need to adjust their portions or feedings.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your puppy depends on keeping an eye on their development and making the necessary adjustments to their feeding amounts and routine. Be patient, ask your vet for guidance, and your puppy will thrive.
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Stick to a Regular Feeding Schedule
Sticking to a regular feeding schedule is important for your puppy’s health, growth, and housetraining. Feeding at the same times daily helps establish a routine and avoids upset stomachs from irregular mealtimes.
For most puppies, three meals a day is typical. Space out the feedings, such as 7 am, noon, and 6 pm. As your puppy ages, you can transition to two meals a day. Be sure always to have fresh, clean water available between feedings.
Measure your puppy’s daily portion of food and divide it into the appropriate number of meals. It’s best not always to leave food out, as this can lead to obesity and other issues. Stick closely to the recommended amount on the packaging based on your puppy’s age and size.
While giving your puppy extra treats or table scraps can be tempting, avoid doing so. This can quickly lead to nutritional imbalances and excess weight gain. Reserve treats for training purposes only, and keep them to no more than 10% of your puppy’s daily calories.
It’s normal for puppies to act hungry frequently as they grow incredibly fast. But don’t give in—stick to the schedule. Your puppy’s stomach is small, so he needs to eat several small meals throughout the day to get all the necessary nutrients. If he doesn’t finish his meal within 15-20 minutes, pick up the food until the next feeding.
Establishing a feeding routine early on will set your puppy up for success. He’ll learn to eat at certain times, and the schedule will aid in housetraining as you’ll know when he needs to go out. Be patient through the process, and in no time, your puppy will get accustomed to chow time!
Make Adjustments Based on Your Puppy’s Growth
As your puppy grows, their nutritional needs will change. Adjusting how much they eat to match their growth stage is important.
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Watch Your Puppy’s Body Condition
Check your puppy’s body condition regularly to make sure they’re at a healthy weight. You should be able to easily feel their ribs without pressing hard, and they should have a visible waist when viewed from above. If your puppy looks overweight or underweight, adjust their food amount and consult your vet.
Feed Multiple Small Meals
Puppies should be fed 3-4 small meals daily for the first few months. This helps ensure they get all the calories and nutrients they need for proper growth. As your puppy ages, you can transition to 2-3 meals daily. Around 6-8 months of age, most puppies can move to eat two meals a day.
Measure Out Portions
Don’t just fill the bowl—measure proper portion sizes for your puppy’s age and size. The amounts on the puppy food packaging are just a guideline. You may need to adjust up or down by 10-25%, depending on if your puppy looks over or underweight. It’s best to consult your vet about your puppy’s ideal amount.
Make Gradual Changes
When adjusting your puppy’s food amount or switching to a new food, make changes gradually. A sudden switch can upset your puppy’s tummy. Over 7-10 days, slowly transition by mixing more of the new food with the current food each day until you feed all the fresh food or amount.
Watching your puppy closely, measuring portions, and making gradual changes as needed will help ensure your little one gets the right nutrition for healthy growth. Contact your vet for any concerns about your puppy’s growth or development. They can evaluate your puppy and provide guidance specific to their needs.
In summary, your puppy’s food depends on many factors, like age, size, breed, and activity level. The best approach is to start with the recommendations on your puppy food bag and adjust based on whether your puppy seems hungry or is gaining too much weight. It can take trial and error, but pay close attention to your puppy; they’ll let you know if they need more or less. Raising a puppy is a big responsibility but also rewarding. If you provide them with a healthy, balanced diet, plenty of exercise, training, love, and veterinary care, you’ll set them up for a long, happy life as your faithful companion. Before you know it, your little furball will be all grown up, so enjoy these puppy days – they go by fast!