Feeding a puppy: how much and when?

  • When getting a puppy, owners often question how much to feed a puppy, how often to feed a puppy and what to feed a puppy. How much you feed a puppy varies dependent on the breed. While a mastiff puppy might eat 2kg a day, a miniature dachshund will eat closer to 330g. Both breeds start with this split over four meals, which is then reduced to three meals, and finally two meals at about six months for the dachshund, but nine months for a mastiff. So, you see there is a broad brush when it comes to how much to feed a puppy.

    I am also a big believer in a guide being a guide. Like us, some dogs have a faster metabolic rate than others, even if they are the same breed. They also digest differently depending on what they are fed.

    How often should you feed a puppy?

    Puppies have a tiny stomach and bladder, so it’s sensible to split their daily requirement over four meals initially until they are about 12 weeks old. At this age it comes out as fast as it goes in!

    At around 12 weeks, you can drop down to three meals a day until they are roughly six to nine months old – but, again, this is breed dependent. You’ll know when your puppy is ready to drop down as they’ll start leaving food – unless you own a breed that is particularly greedy, such as a beagle, Labrador, or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in which case you’ll have to make the decision for them.

    How much to feed a puppy

    Although there is a guide to feeding – for example, a raw fed puppy should be fed 4-6% of its overall body weight each day – it is merely a guide. Some breeds, such as mastiffs, will need more due to their rapid growth rate as they are a giant breed – they can sometimes put 1kg of weight on per day. That said you do not want them too heavy as it will put strain on fast growing joints and the muscles and ligaments need to catch up.

    A knowledgeable and experienced breeder will guide you in respect of the amount that your new puppy should eat as it depends on the breed. Invariably there are some puppies that are greedier than others and who may eat more than they need to. It is arduous work to do, but when my litter reaches 6 weeks of age, they stop sharing one bowl between them and get individual bowls to eat from. I can then work out whose eating what and how much they need going forward.

    If you’re still unsure, follow the guidance provided with the food, monitor your puppy’s weight gain and adjust accordingly.

    Can you give a puppy treats?

    Of course you can – as long as you opt for one of the best puppy treats available. If you’re worried about weight gain, then take a percentage out of their daily diet to counteract the treats.

    Good options include carrots, cocktail sausages and cheddar cheese. Avoid rawhide, treats that are high in fat and/or colourings and commercial dog treats that are not dehydrated or air dried. Steer clear of anything that looks like a sweet.

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