Puppies are SO much fun to be around, but they grow up so quickly. They are small fluffy balls of life waddling around and learning how to walk one moment, then they suddenly transform into large, gangly “teenagers” and you’re shocked by how much they’ve grown.
But knowing that YOU play a significant role in their growth and development is such a rewarding feeling. And the experience of helping a living thing grow and thrive is amazing! So, it makes sense that feeding them properly is one of the best things you can do to ensure that they develop into strong, healthy dogs.
Keeping your growing puppy on a consistent and healthy diet early on is key to keeping them happy and strong for years to come. As your puppy continues to grow and thrive every day, it can be confusing when you’re trying to determine how much food they need. So how often does a puppy need to eat?
Most puppies should eat three-five times a day to receive all the required calories and nutrients they need. The number of separate meals will decrease as your pup gets older. It’s important to note that portion sizes are more important than how frequently your puppy eats. Your puppy’s breed and size also play a role in how much they should eat.
In this article, we’ll explore what factors you should consider when feeding your puppy, how much your puppy should be eating, as well as what all dog owners should know to keep their furry friend happy and healthy. If you’re interested in learning how often does a puppy eat, keep on reading.
Puppies Need Frequent Feedings
It’s essential to keep your puppy on a consistent feeding schedule, even as they grow older and their needs change. Sticking to a consistent schedule is also a great way to discourage poor eating habits and to ensure your dog is healthy and happy.
Unlike older dogs, puppies need smaller and more frequent feedings to continue growing properly. If you’re unsure where to begin in terms of feeding your puppy, giving them at least three meals a day is a great start.
Still, it’s important to note that there are other factors you should consider before deciding how much food your puppy needs. Below, we’ll explore what else you should remember before deciding on three meals a day for your furry friend.
Your Puppy Feeding Schedule Depends on Your Puppy’s Breed, Size and Age
When determining how often a puppy eats, the three meals a day philosophy is a good general rule. When it comes to puppies, your canine friend may require more food throughout the day, depending on their breed and size. For example, for the first few months of their lives, teacup puppies need anywhere from four to six meals a day.
If you have a medium-sized breed, it’s best to enforce three meals a day, while larger breeds should eat anywhere from three to four meals a day. The size of your puppy directly correlates with how fast their metabolism is and their energy levels.
Dog owners have to consider how much their puppy is eating, as well as portion sizes. Factoring in your puppy’s specific breed and overall size will help you map out exactly how much they should be eating.
Portion Sizes Are Important
As we stated above, portion sizes are critical. While ensuring that your dog is eating frequently enough, controlling the portions is one of the most important things you can do. Thankfully, most dog food packaging comes with a weight chart that helps dog owners precisely measure out what their puppy needs.
It’s essential to accurately measure exactly what your dog needs to get all the necessary nutrients and calories needed in their diet. Dry food is generally adequate, but try to add in some fresh and/or homemade food when possible. Keeping all these factors in mind will allow you to give everything your puppy needs to stay healthy and content within their diet.
The Age of Your Puppy Plays a Role
You should consider the age of your puppy when planning their eating schedule and habits. For example, all growing pups aged six-eight weeks to around twelve months (1 year old) should be eating puppy food and not adult dog food.
Feeding puppies food made for their age enables them to receive the essential nutrients that they need during their growing years. Once your puppy reaches around three to six months old, you can slowly begin decreasing the number of meals they’re receiving and start giving them a consistent three meals a day to look forward to.
At around six to twelve months old, dog owners can change from puppy food to adult food. Sticking to this schedule will ensure that your dog receives all the essential nutrients to develop normally during their youth.
The Amount Of Daily Exercise Your Puppy Gets Is A Factor
Puppies need a lot of exercise in order to grow and develop properly. And since exercise influences a puppy’s energy requirements, the amount of exercise a puppy gets affects how much food they should eat. Generally speaking, more exercise will increase your pup’s need for energy, which means you’ll need to feed them more, and more often.
What To Remember When Considering Your Pup’s Dietary Needs
- Puppies need a consistent feeding schedule
- Your puppy’s size, breed, and age all play a role in how much they should be consuming
- Portion sizes are more important than the frequency of the meals
- Puppies shouldn’t consume adult dog food
- As your puppy gets older, you can slowly begin decreasing the amount of food they receive
- The more exercise your pup gets, the more food they will need to meet energy requirements
What Else Should You Know?
Your puppy feeding routine should fit your pup’s lifestyle, as well as your own. Your puppy relies on you to keep them well-fed and growing strong, so it’s crucial to enforce a healthy diet and a consistent schedule to keep them happy well into adulthood.
Below, we’ll explore what else you should keep in mind regarding your puppy and their eating habits.
Free-Range Feeding Is Not Recommended
While keeping your puppy’s food out and available to them at all times may seem more manageable, it can make things more difficult as it can make it impossible to track how much your pup has consumed throughout the day.
Constantly leaving food out can also reinforce poor eating habits and lead to obesity in many dogs. Without a strict mealtime routine, your puppy won’t be able to establish a bathroom routine either.
If food is always available to them, this can encourage poor habits and behaviors that will likely continue into adulthood. It’s best to feed your puppy the appropriate portions for each meal instead of leaving a large amount of food out throughout the entire day.
While food shouldn’t be left out, a fresh bowl of water should always be available for your furry friend. To avoid unwanted build-ups of germs and bacteria, clean out your dog’s food and water bowl daily.
Some dog owners have both an indoor and outdoor bowl of water available for their furry friends, especially during the warmer months. While food should be given to your dog slowly throughout the day, keeping fresh cool water close by at all times is crucial to keeping your pup happy.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Table Scraps (People Food)
It’s best to avoid feeding your dog food from the table altogether, as a one-time simple treat can quickly become a habit. A diet of scraps from the dinner table will eventually lead to a nutrition imbalance, which can cause weight gain and various other health problems. Pet food might seem yucky to us, but it’s best for your canine companion, and satisfying to them, as well.
It’s best to remember that your dog isn’t starving or in any kind of distress when they beg for food. They know by begging, you are more likely to give in and give them what they want, so avoid creating this habit early on.
Speak to Your Vet About Your Puppy’s Diet
Whether you’re unsure about your puppy’s eating habits or you’re looking to switch up your furry friend’s diet, it’s best to contact your vet about these issues first. Your puppy’s veterinarian will be able to give you accurate insight on what your puppy needs and how you can successfully go about feeding your pup.
Your vet will also point you in the direction of the best kind of food for your puppy and what you can expect in their growing year, such as wet food, dry kibble, or fresh / homemade. Others sources of good information about your puppy’s dietary needs would be your local rescue groups and foster groups for the breed of your puppy. These types of organizations have lots of experience with your pup’s breed, and they have volunteers who love to help other pet parents!
Keeping in close contact with your vet will allow you to make the best decisions for your pup to keep them healthy and happy in the long run.
Our Handy-Dandy Feeding Schedule / Puppy Feeding Chart
How Often Does a Puppy Need to Eat? Our Conclusion
A major aspect of puppy care is feeding them the right food in the correct amounts at the proper times. In this article, we explored nutritional needs and how often your puppy should eat, as well as what other factors you should be aware of before feeding your puppy. While three meals a day is a great place to start, your puppies’ breed, size, and age all play a role.