How Much Food Should a Puppy Eat?
One of the most common questions new puppy parents have is how much they should feed their new best friend. As you may expect, the answer depends on your particular pup.
Just like humans, all puppies are a little different. Some furry friends will need more food to help them grow into strong, healthy adult dogs. Others may not need quite as much dry food or wet food to keep them at a healthy weight. Fortunately, there are a few simple guidelines to help you to ascertain whether you’re feeding your pup enough – or too much.
How to Choose the Right Puppy Food?
You’ll want to find a puppy formula that caters to your dog’s size. Simply put, Bichon Frise and Bernese Mountain Dog puppies grow at different rates and have different nutritional needs. You’ll want to choose a puppy food specially formulated for your small breed or large breed puppy. At Bil-Jac, we have high-quality formulas for pups of all sizes based on the estimated weight they will be when they are full grown:
- Bil-Jac Small Breed Puppy – For pups weighing up to 20 pounds
- Bil-Jac Puppy Select – For pups weighing 20 to 50 pounds
- Bil-Jac Large Breed Puppy – For pups weighing 50 pounds or more
How Much Should a Puppy Eat?
Puppies can go through a lot of food, particularly in their first six months of life. Because puppies grow quickly, they require more food when they are growing than when they are an adult, whether you’re giving them dry food, wet food, or a combination of both. This need for extra nutrition is why puppy formulas are specially packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals so that our little friends get everything they need to become big and strong.
Feeding a puppy in the first year of life.
Of course, puppies have different feeding needs at different ages. This is especially true for really young pups who aren’t ready for kibble. Puppies normally start weaning to solid food by 4 weeks of age and should be eating dry food by 7 to 8 weeks of age.
Puppies have small stomachs, so it can be hard for them to take in all of their nutritional needs at one meal. Up to 6 months of age, it’s helpful to split up their daily amount of food into three feedings spread out throughout the day.
Once your pups are 6 months old, you can feed them twice a day, dividing their daily amount of food into two feedings. They can stay on this twice a day feeding schedule as adults as well. This is particularly helpful for small breed dogs since some have a harder time balancing our their energy and sugar levels when only fed once a day.
While puppies do need special nutrition, it’s important not to overfeed them. All dog foods are required to provide recommended feeding amounts on their packaging. These feeding recommendations are based on the weight of your puppy. For example, Bil-Jac Puppy Select offers the following recommendations:
These guidelines are recommendations based on averages, but they will give you a good place to start – you should always monitor your puppy’s appetite and growth pattern and adjust the feeding amounts up or down as dictated by body condition.
You should also note that not all dog foods have the same feeding recommendations. If you are using a super-premium puppy food like Bil-Jac, it will be packed with nutrients, especially protein, and require smaller portion sizes than with other brands.
How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?
In terms of a recommended puppy feeding schedule, that depends on the age of your pup. Younger pups tend to do better with smaller, more frequent meals because they have small stomachs and may not be able to eat all their food and digest it easily in one meal. The following ages are good guidelines for puppy feeding schedules.
- Less than 6 months old – Three scheduled feedings a day.
- 6 months to a year old – Two scheduled feedings a day
- More than a year old – One or two scheduled feedings a day
As to when these scheduled feedings should occur, that depends on you and your pup. For example, you could establish mealtimes at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m. to space them apart nicely. The timing largely depends on your personal preferences, but it’s important to stick with a schedule once you set it. Dogs are creatures of habit. Feeding on a regular schedule will help provide the security and predictability of mealtime and making a trip outside soon afterward.
How Can I Tell if My Puppy is Eating the Right Amount of Food?
We agree with what our friends from the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggest, “Watch the dog, not the dish.” The best way to determine if you’re dishing out the right amount of food is to monitor your puppy’s body condition, not the amount of food eaten or left behind. Food consistently left behind may indicate that you’re giving your pup too large a portion, but a better gauge is to keep an eye on your pup’s body as she grows.
While everybody loves a chubby puppy, your little furball should start to “thin out” a bit as he grows. Otherwise, you could be feeding him too much and setting him up for obesity and health problems in adulthood.
There are a few different visual signs that can help you determine if your pup is eating the right amount of food. Your pup should have a visible “waistline” when you look at him from above. From the side, his belly should not hang down lower than his chest – if it does, that’s a sign that you’re likely overfeeding your furry friend.
There are also some ways to see if your dog isn’t eating enough food. You should also be able to feel your puppy’s ribs, but not see them. If your puppy’s ribs are visible, this could mean you are feeding him too little and need to bump up the serving sizes.
What About Treats?
It’s important to remember that treats are just that – treats. Some tasty treats are great for training your puppy or showing him some extra affection, but you shouldn’t spoil the little furball too much. The AKC recommends following the “10 percent rule,” which means that treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your four-legged friend’s diet. Fortunately, smaller treats like Bil-Jac Little Jacs can help you reward your pup without going overboard.
When Should I Switch My Puppy to Adult Dog Food?
Your dog’s breed size is a key to help you know when to transition to adult food. Smaller breeds are typically full grown more quickly than their larger friends are, and should switch sometime between the ages of 10-12 months. Medium-sized breeds typically transition to adulthood around their first birthday. Meanwhile, large breeds can take anywhere between 12-18 months before they are fully-grown and are ready for adult dog food.
Our Best Advice – Relax and Enjoy Some Quality Puppy Time
Being a puppy parent is a big responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy every single minute with your best friend. If you follow these simple guidelines, you should be able to just relax and enjoy your newfound friend. Don’t stress too much about feeding your puppy — just use the suggestions above and have fun! It is our hope that you and your puppy will share many happy, healthy days to come.
Want to learn more about how you can help your puppy lead a happy, healthy life? Join the Puppy Club to receive exclusive puppy information and discounts on Bil-Jac products.