How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?

Here’s the recommended amount to feed your puppy so he won’t get too chubby 🍽

small puppy with big bowl of food

Puppies seem to be hungry all the time, and who can resist those big puppy-dog eyes staring at you for a second serving of dinner?

But just because your puppy’s the cutest thing in the world doesn’t mean you should be feeding him all day long (or adding extra scoops of food to his meal).

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Graham Brayshaw, director of veterinary medicine at the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota, to find out how much you should feed your puppy (and how often).

What affects how much to feed a puppy?

How much your puppy needs to eat depends on his age and his weight, since dogs of different sizes and life stages have different nutritional needs.

“Bigger dog breeds need more food than smaller dog breeds, which is why most pet food packaging gives feeding recommendations based on your dog’s size,” Dr. Brayshaw told The Dodo. “Younger dogs have a higher metabolism and are usually more active, so they need more food per pound than an older dog.”

How much to feed a puppy chart

This chart can help you decide how much you should feed your puppy. Most dog foods will also have recommendations on the bag for how much to feed him since every food is slightly different, so be sure to check that out, too.

“Remember that every diet is a little different when it comes to how calorie-dense it is,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “It’s best to follow the directions on the food packaging first, and then make adjustments based on your dog’s needs from there.”

puppy feeding chart

If you’re still not sure exactly how much food to give your puppy, ask your vet for advice. They know your puppy, so they’ll be able to tell you the perfect amount for him.

“Your veterinarian can give you personalized recommendations for your puppy, and following the directions on the food packaging is a good place to start,” Dr. Brayshaw said.

How often to feed a puppy

Puppies need to eat a lot more often than adult dogs (which is part of the reason why they need to go to the bathroom more frequently, too).

“Frequency of feeding is based on your dog’s ability to control their own blood sugar levels,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “This ability increases the bigger and older the dog is. A puppy may need to eat every few hours because they can’t control their blood sugar levels as well, whereas an adult large-breed dog may only need to eat once a day.”

According to Dr. Brayshaw, you can start off by feeding your puppy four times per day until he’s 6 months old. At that point, you can switch him to two meals a day.

Keep in mind that you should try to avoid leaving your puppy’s food out all day for him to graze. He’ll benefit from having a set feeding schedule — and so will you — since it helps set up a routine.

“Your puppy should be able to eat their meal in about 10–15 minutes,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “If your puppy doesn’t eat all the food you offer, remove the uneaten food after 15–20 minutes. It’s best to avoid letting your dog snack all day. Regular feeding times establish regular elimination patterns, which will make your life easier!”

When to switch a puppy to dog food

You should wait until your puppy’s fully grown to start feeding him adult dog food.

“You’ll want to make the change as a puppy slows their growing and when their metabolism starts to slow as they approach adulthood,” Dr. Brayshaw said.

The best time to transition to adult dog food depends on the dog’s size. For example, small dogs reach maturity faster than large-breed dogs, who can continue growing up until they’re around 2 years old. Small dogs can be done growing as early as 6 months old, and medium-sized dogs will grow until they’re around 1 year old.

“In general, you should change to adult foods between 6 months and a year,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “You’ll want to change earlier in that window for smaller dogs and later in that window for larger dogs.”

Changing your puppy’s food too quickly can upset his stomach, so any time you make a change to his diet, you should do it slowly by mixing his old food with the new food.

“Abrupt changes in diet can lead to diarrhea, so gradually change diets over the span of two weeks,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “To transition your dog to adult food, slowly start adding more and more adult food and less puppy food to your dog’s meals over the course of two weeks until they are fully transitioned to adult food.”

What to look for in puppy food

Not only should you make sure to feed your puppy the correct amount of food, but you should also make sure you’re feeding him high-quality food.

Puppy foods are specially formulated to have all the protein, fat, calories and minerals they need to keep them healthy while they grow. There are even puppy foods made just for small breeds and large breeds, since they have their own nutrient needs.

“I would recommend starting with a good, complete, larger brand diet, like Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin, Iams or even Kirkland [Signature] or something similar,” Dr. Brayshaw said. “If you have a history of your dog doing well on a certain kind of food, then stick with it.”

“Complete” foods meet the nutritional requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for puppy foods to contain at least 22.5 percent protein, 8.5 percent fat and 1.2 percent calcium.

Dr. Brayshaw also recommends working with your veterinarian so you can make sure that your pup gets all the nutrients he needs.

While it might seem like your puppy’s always hungry, he’s still growing, so he needs a lot of food. Just be sure to feed him the right amount for his size and age and get him a healthy puppy food.

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