How Much to Feed a Puppy - Owner's Guide

How Much to Feed a Puppy - Owner's Guide

Author WDF Staff


Proper nutrition is vital for the puppy’s development. New dog owners can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available online or on social media. Most dog owners are willing to help and offer advice, but just because a specific diet works for their puppy doesn’t mean it will work for yours - even if they are from the same breed.

Knowing which puppy food to choose and how much to feed a puppy is crucial. There are general guides that new dog owners should be aware of. They should feed their puppy a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding them.

A worrying statistic tells us that more than 50% of American puppies and dogs are overweight. Dog obesity is deadly and will cause different health issues. Dog owners must understand how much to feed a puppy. Here is what you need to know about puppy feeding.

One of the first things you will have to do is teach the puppy where to relieve themselves. Check out this article for more info - How to Potty Train a Puppy.

Choosing the right puppy food

Before we answer the question “How much to feed a puppy?” we need to answer “What food to feed the puppy?” Picking a balanced dog food is crucial for healthy development. The first step would be to talk to your vet and ask for advice about puppy food. They can let you in on all the secrets regarding puppy feeding. You’ll know which food to pick and how much to feed a puppy by weight. There are three basic options from you to choose from;

puppy pug eating a bone

Wet puppy food

At the start of their life, puppies will nurse from their moms. After that, the breeder will start introducing solid food to the puppy’s diet. Wet food is certainly most palatable, and puppies and dogs seem to enjoy it most. However, it is also the most expensive. It sometimes lacks the consistency to help puppies and dogs have a solid stool.

Semi-moist puppy food

Semi-moist puppy food will look like hamburger meat. It comes in single-serving packages, and puppies seem to love it. You have to be careful about how much you feed the puppy.

Kibble (dry dog food)

Kibble is the best option; at least, that is what most vets say. Industrial food has all the ingredients a puppy will need for healthy development. Dog food companies like Royal Canin, Canidae, Eukanuba, or Orijen have spent millions of dollars researching dog nutritional needs. You can always add a bit of wet or semi-moist food to make it more palatable, even though dogs don’t seem to mind it.

If you are not sure which food to pick, check out this list of recommendations - Top 9 best puppy foods.

Specialized diets

The US cynology association registered around 200 dog breeds, and the European governing cynology body, the FCI, registered around 380 breeds. They are all different and have different nutritional needs. Chihuahua and Great Dane puppies are not that similar, and their development takes different paths.

Luckily, dog food manufacturers have specialized diets you can choose from. Some foods are better for large puppies, and some are better for toy sizes. Make sure to talk to your vet and ask if a specialized diet would be a good option for your new puppy.

Another thing you will have to do is make sure your puppy gets all the vaccines. Check out this article for more info - Puppy shot schedule.

yorkie puppy eating a bone

How much to feed a puppy by age?

As your new puppy develops, their dietary needs will develop and change. In the first year of their life, the food they eat should provide nutrients that will help your puppy have plenty of energy and grow. Knowing how much to feed a puppy in different parts of their life is crucial. You don’t want to end up with a malnourished or obese puppy that will develop skeletal problems. Here is a short guide on how much to feed a puppy based on their age;

6 - 12 weeks

A puppy that is between 6 and 12 weeks old is developing and growing rapidly. The best option for them is specialized puppy food with adapted nutritional value. At that age, puppies will need to feed at least four times a day.

3 - 6 months

Between the third and sixth months of the puppy’s life, they should start looking more adult-like. They should lose pudginess and potbelly by the 12th week. At that time, you should reduce the number of meals from four to three. Keep feeding them puppy portions until they lose the puppy body shape.

6 - 12 months

In this period, your growing pup should start eating twice a day and switch to adult food. Smaller breeds can start eating adult dog food between 7 - 9 months, and large breeds can wait until 14 months. It is better to keep your dog on puppy food longer than not keeping them long enough.

1+ years

Your puppy is now an adult dog, and their nutritional needs are different than when they were a puppy. Spayed/neutered dogs will have slightly reduced energy, so if you made the procedure - adapt their diet. Most dog owners decide to give their dogs two meals a day.

Your new puppy will have to learn to walk on a leash. They are not usually pleased with walking on a leash. Check out this article for more info - Leash training a puppy.

How much to feed a puppy by weight

Keeping track of your puppy’s development is vital. You should weigh your puppy every week and monitor their development. You can do that easily by weighing yourself with and without the puppy. Subtract your weight from your weight with the puppy, and you will have the exact number.

A popular expression in the dog world says, “Watch the dog, not the dish.” In easier terms, that means that the puppy’s condition should determine how much they eat. It doesn’t matter if they eat everything in their bowl or leave half of their food. Check their development, muscles, bones, and compare it to the chart of what dogs of that breed should weigh and look like at that age.

There are different puppy feeding charts, but you shouldn’t entirely depend on them. Puppy feeding charts are general advice based on thousands of dogs from the same breed, or better yet, of the same size. However, individual dogs will have unique needs. They will need more or less food because they might develop faster or slower. We have prepared a general puppy feeding chart based on their weight as adult dogs. Keep in mind that this is not the amount dogs should eat based on their puppy weight, but on their adult weight they will achieve.

puppy feeding chart

*These chart serves as a recommendations only.  Always check the product package for specific feeding recommendations.

Keep in mind that this is a general puppy feeding chart. Individual manufacturers can have different advice and amounts, so make sure you read the label thoroughly. If you notice anything unusual going on with your puppy, if they are not gaining weight, or they seem to have issues digesting specific foods, talk to your vet and ask for advice.

A great idea is to teach your puppy on a crate. They will be safe and have space just for them. Check out this article for more info - Crate training for puppies.

World Dog Finder team

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