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How Much to Feed a Puppy

As the proud parent of a new puppy with an endless appetite, you might be asking yourself exactly how much to feed a puppy before they’re satisfied. Whether you let your dog dive into their food dish or enforce more structured feedings is up to you -- with the advice of your veterinarian, of course. Before you determine the right puppy feeding schedule for your pet, there are some options to consider.

Scheduled Feedings

Scheduled feedings lead to more regular bowel movements, which can make housetraining easier for you and your pup. With scheduled feedings, you’ll always know how often to feed a puppy (consult your veterinarian for advice). Precisely how much food you’ll want to dispense depends on their age, weight, and breed.

Free Feeding

Allowing your puppy to self-feed means giving them access to their food 24/7. There are some serious drawbacks to this option if your pet is an enthusiastic eater, including obesity, bone growth problems (caused by consuming too many calories too soon), and food aggression (if there are multiple dogs in the house). If you are considering free feeding, we strongly recommend consulting with your veterinarian about your options.

Portion Size

Portion sizes of puppy food are not “one size fits all.” Follow these portion guidance tips to get started. If you have any questions, always refer to your veterinarian’s recommendations:

  • Check the packaging of your puppy’s food. Most product packages provide puppy feeding guidelines based on your puppy’s age and weight.
  • Pay attention to if your puppy is leaving food in their bowl. If so, cut back by a little at each meal until you find an amount that’s just right. Alternatively, if your puppy devours each meal and still seems hungry, increase the amount at each feeding time until you find an amount that keeps your puppy satisfied.
  • Be very cautious when increasing food amounts. Some dogs will eat every bite, no matter how full they are.

Feeding Frequency

Find the ideal frequency for feedings based on your puppy’s age:

< 8 weeks

Puppies are generally weaned by the time they are 8 weeks old, then you can switch to a puppy formula targeted to their age and breed size. Since puppies have unique nutritional needs, it’s important to choose a puppy food that has the appropriate amount of calories, protein, and calcium.

8+ weeks

After 8 weeks, you can feed your pup up to three times a day. You should continue to feed the same brand of puppy food as before. Sudden changes in food can cause an upset tummy, so if you are wanting to change foods, do so gradually.

6–12 months

While most authorities recommend feeding your dog twice a day, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian around this age to receive guidance on how often and how much to feed your puppy as they continue to grow.

Adulthood

Dogs reach the adult stage of their life at different ages, depending on their breed and size. In most cases, you can feed your adult dog once or twice a day, but some larger breed dogs should be fed smaller portions multiple times a day in order to help prevent bloat. Again, if you would like to change foods, do so at a gradual pace to prevent intestinal upset.

Treats

It’s perfectly fine to show your puppy a little extra love with a healthy snack as long as you don’t overdo it. Dog treats should not exceed 10 percent of your puppy’s total diet. Keep this in mind especially if you have enrolled your puppy in a training class that is based on treat rewards or if you are using treats to train at home. Choose healthy treats that are made especially for puppies. Teaching your puppy good eating habits now can keep her healthier in the long run.