The Puppy Feeding GuideEmma Frain 28 April 2022
When you bring your new bundle of fluff home, there are a lot of things you need to consider. From their sleep schedule and exercise routine to grooming and nutrition, us pet parents need to be on the ball. How to feed a puppy and their nutrition is one of the things that is important to get right. It is also one of the things that can cause a lot of confusion! ‘What should I feed my puppy?’, ‘How much should I feed my puppy?’ and ‘When?’ and ‘Where should I feed my puppy?’ are all very valid questions.
It’s important to mention that your puppy will have unique dietary requirements which depend on their breed, sex, age and activity level. It can be worth having a chat with your vet about their specific nutritional needs, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help.
What to feed a new puppy
Many breeders will send you and your pup home with a bag of the food they have been weaned on to. This can be great if you are planning on offering the same diet, but what if you’re not? Importantly, continue the original food in the short-term to prevent a stomach upset. We then want to gradually change over to the puppy food of our choice. This diet change may take up to 7 days and should only be started once puppy has settled in.
It is important that you feed your puppy a puppy specific food, as they have nutritional needs to help them grow and develop optimally, puppies grow at 20 times the rate of an adult dog so its really important to fuel your pup properly.
What is the difference between puppy food and adult dog food?
- Puppy specific food needs to be higher in protein which is vital to support growth
- Higher in calories to support the energy they burn through playtime
- Small kibble size, this is in relation to dry food as puppies need smaller bite sized pieces which are easier for them to chew and swallow
It is a sign of a good owner that you are concerned about feeding your new furry friend the right amount. Unfortunately, much like babies, puppies do not come with an instruction manual. That’s why having access to a puppy feeding chart that takes into account your puppy’s weight and age is so important. Read on to learn more about the amount of food you should be offering your little bundle of fluff.
How much to feed a puppy
There is no one size fits all answer to this question, as every puppy is an individual with their own dietary requirements. A laid-back 6 month old Chihuahua won’t need even half as many calories as an active 12 week old Great Dane.
Large breed puppies will need more calcium, phosphorous and protein for their bone and joint development. Smaller breed puppies, on the other hand, tend to have a higher metabolic rate so will need more nutritionally dense food.
How much to feed a puppy is dependent on your puppy’s current size and age as well as their predicted weight. If your puppy is a mixed breed and you are unsure how much they will weigh when older, there are usually good estimates available online.
Remember, our tools help provide a guideline but each dog is an individual. If your dog has had a busy day of training and playing, they may need a few extra calories for dinner. Similarly, if the weather has been awful and they’ve had a lazy day, you may find they don’t finish their full portion. It is sensible to monitor your puppy’s weight each week and to ensure they are growing as expected. If not, we may need to alter the recommended feeding amount.
We’ve developed the puppy feeding charts and food calculator below to help you determine what your puppy needs.
Puppy feeding charts by dog weight and age
This is for the Puppy Complete Superfood
Puppy feeding by breed
Puppy feeding charts should be seen as a useful tool that all owners can use. While they may seem complicated at first glance, they are straightforward to use. Let’s take a closer look at our puppy’s needs in relation to their breed (weight) and age:
Toy Breeds (e.g. Chihuahua, Papillon or Pomeranian)
Toy breeds never grow more than 5kg and tend to reach their adult weight by six to nine months of age. The amount of food they require gradually increases until they are 4 months old. At this stage, they are not growing as rapidly as before so need a little less. Meals must be spaced over at least 3-4 meal times as their small stomachs cannot hold much food. Beware over-feeding your toy breed as they hit the six month mark. Many will start to refuse food at this stage, indicating their appetite has naturally decreased. This is to be expected and is not a cause for concern.
Small Breeds (e.g. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lhasa Apso or Miniature Schnauzer)
Small breeds weigh less than 10kg at maturity and take somewhat longer to develop and fill out than their toy breed peers. This is why we continue to feed more until they are about six months of age. After this, their calorie requirements only dip slightly. As with toy breeds, owners tend to want to ‘over-feed’ these dogs. Consider weighing out the portions suggested by the puppy feeding guide.
Small/Medium Breeds (e.g. American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle)
These dogs weigh between 10 to 15kg when they are fully mature and a healthy weight. Not surprisingly, they will need more calories than smaller breeds throughout their entire life. While they have less growing to do in the latter half of their first year, their calorie requirements do not change dramatically compared to the first six months. This is because they still have a lot of growing to do. Once their skeleton has fully formed, they need plenty of nutritious food to help pack on muscle and fill out their frame.
Medium/Large Breeds (e.g. Springer Spaniel, Australian Cattle Dog)
Once we get into these larger breeds of dog, their growth rate in their first year is relatively speedy. A Springer Spaniel will double in weight from 3 months to 9 months of age, so it is clear they are still doing plenty of growing in this time frame. Indeed, they do not stop growing until about 12-18 months of age. All of this growing requires plenty of calories and a nutrient dense, balanced diet.
Large Breeds (e.g. Boxer, Bull Terrier, Labrador)
These dogs have lots of growing to do and not providing them with the nutrients they need can lead to joint disease in later life. Their puppy food must contain a minimum of 30% high quality protein. Extra nutritional support is needed towards the end of the first year as their muscle are developing and putting pressure on their joints. As they will be developing beyond their first year of life, calorie requirements do not drop noticeably at this age.
Giant Breeds (e.g. Great Dane, Mastiff)
Giant breeds have a huge amount of growing to do and, even more so than any other sized dogs, rely heavily on the right diet. They have high calcium needs for their growing bones and teeth. They also need plenty of carbohydrates to provide them with energy for playing, socialising and growing.
These dogs grow faster and remain puppies longer than their smaller peers. As these dogs take such a long time to mature (years rather than months), we tend to continue to increase their calories until about 12 months at this age. Even then, they need about the same amount of food until they are 18 months old.
How often to feed a puppy
As a rule of thumb, most will eat as follows:
Very young puppies who have just been re-homed and are used to being fed around the clock by their mother may initially appreciate four meals a day. This regular feeding is a great idea for Toy breeds who find it harder to control their blood sugar levels. However, after a few short weeks at home, most dogs can be fed three times a day. Certainly, by three months of age, reducing to three meals a day is best.
Small dogs require more calories per pound of body weight. Their energy reserve does not last as long as that of larger breeds. This is why it can be useful to feed smaller dogs more regularly when they are puppies and adults.
The best times to feed a puppy is when they are hungry and eager to eat! We should space meals out evenly and avoid force feeding pups who aren’t hungry or who are showing no interest in the meal on offer.
Knowing when to feed a puppy is usually quite instinctive. Aim for a breakfast meal, afternoon meal and evening meal.
A good example of a schedule would be:
*Remember, during early toilet training puppies need to be brought out several times an hour.
What time a puppy is fed should remain the same each day. This is irrespective of your working schedule or other activities that may be going on within the home. A puppy needs consistency and won’t understand if they are fed at a different time on some days. It can help to set an alarm when each meal is due, at least for the first few weeks.
We shouldn’t feed our puppy too late in the evening as they need time to digest their meal and go to the toilet afterwards.
When should I switch from puppy food to adult food?
As your puppy gets older, you may start to wonder when to switch them from puppy to dog food. When to stop feeding puppy food will depend on several factors, include your dog’s breed and size. Depending on your dog, you may be making the transition any time between the ages of nine months and two years.
Why can I not feed puppy food for life?
Puppy and adult dog food may seem similar but they are far from the same. Once your pup is an adult, they simply do not need all that puppy food has to offer. While some owners think puppy food is ‘better’ so consider offering it for life, it is not the best choice for an adult dog and can result in health issues.
If given the choice, many adult dogs would plump for puppy food. It is highly palatable and packs a protein punch. However, these silly guys don’t know what’s best for them. If an adult dog were to continue eating puppy food, they could develop nutritional imbalances and would likely start gaining weight too quickly, becoming obese.
Is there a difference between puppy and adult dog food?
There is a bigger difference between puppy and adult food than just the picture on the front of the pack. In fact, they are two entirely different diets.
Pooch & Mutt offer both a wet and dry puppy food, both of which are junk-free and meet all of your little one’s needs. Puppy food is an excellent source of nutrition for growing puppies who are developing at a rapid rate. They need a large amount of calories to ensure they mature appropriately. They also have a high demand for minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorous as their skeleton grows. So, puppy food is more calorie dense and contains a different ratio of vitamins and minerals than adult food does.
Be sure to switch your puppy on to a high quality and well-balanced adult dog food such as Pooch & Mutt’s Adult Superfood.
What age should I make the change from puppy to adult dog food?
If only there was one simply answer to the question ‘When to switch my puppy to dog food’? Frustratingly, the answer is different depending on your dog’s breed, size and activity levels. A Yorkshire Terrier who is not especially active and has matured quickly may be able to switch from puppy to dog food at about 10-12 months of age. Conversely, a Bernese Mountain Dog who is always on the go and the biggest in his litter might need to wait until he is 2 years old to be started on adult food.
How do I introduce adult food to my dog?
A general rule of thumb is:
If you have a mixed breed and are unsure of their predicted weight, have a chat with your breeder or vet. They should be able to advise you further.
Your clever pup may actually start to ‘let you know’ when to take them off puppy food. You will find they simply don’t need as much food as they used to. They might start to leave portions of their meal behind or even to skip a whole meal. When a puppy has matured, their metabolic rate slows right down and they no longer need the calories that they used to. Their demand for protein is also much lower and so they don’t have the same desire to eat their puppy food.
How long a puppy should eat puppy food for depends on their breed size but also on their desire to do so. If you try to change their diet too soon, they may refuse their adult food and their growth could be adversely affected.
How do I introduce adult food to my dog?
Introductions should be made slowly rather than all in one go.
When to switch your puppy to dog food is only one piece of the puzzle. It is also important that we know how to change their diet. If we rush the transition, it is probable that your little pup will develop unpleasant signs such as flatulence, abdominal bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea. A smooth diet transition should ensure your pup suffers no ill effects.
Most puppies can be changed from puppy to dog food over the course of 5-7 days. Very sensitive pups may benefit from an even longer transition period.
Below is a rough guide to follow:
Importantly, the above plan should only be followed if there are no bumps in the road. If, for example, your puppy develops runny poo on day four, we should take a step back rather than ploughing ahead. Go back to the ratio given on day three for a few days. Once all has settled, try transitioning again but with a slightly altered ratio, so the transition takes a little longer. Take it slowly, even if the whole process takes two weeks. Rushing the food change may result in a serious gastroenteritis. Worryingly, it may also cause a food aversion to the new food as the pup will associate it with feeling unwell.
Common questions about feeding puppies
Will it harm my puppy if I do not feed them the right amount?
Over-feeding or under-feeding your young dog can lead to medical issues down the line. Puppy feeding charts minimise confusion and provide a quick answer to the question; How much to feed my puppy?
We want to avoid them being over-weight as this puts too much pressure on their joints and may affect their breathing, especially if they are a brachycephalic breed. Those who are over-weight when young are much more likely to become obese adults.
At the same time, not providing all of the food our dog needs can be detrimental. Without the calories they need, your dog may not have the energy they need to play, learn and develop important life skills. Under-weight dogs may find it hard to build muscle and are more prone to dehydration, hypothermia and hypoglycaemia when unwell. Under-feeding also puts your pup at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.
Can I give my puppy treats as well as their main meals?
Absolutely! Treats are an important part of puppy life. Not only are treats a great way to bond with your puppy, they are also a vital part of training. It is a good rule of thumb that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. This is to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need from their dog food.
Many treats are not suitable for puppies, especially those that are hard or chewy. Some are potential choking hazards and others are too rich for a young dog’s delicate digestive tract. Always check the packaging to ensure the treat is appropriate for your dog’s age and size.
All our Pooch & Mutt Probiotic Meaty Treats are suitable for puppies aged 12 weeks and up.
Why do I need to change the amount of food my pup gets so often?
Puppies grow rapidly within their first year of life. In the first four months in particular, they have a very high calorie requirement. As they get older and their growth rate slows down, they will need less calories. It is not until your pup has reached full maturity that the amount of calories they need each day will remain unchanged. So, remember, how much to feed your puppy will change constantly.
Should my puppy eat wet or dry food?
Feeding a high-quality, nutritious puppy food is essential for your little one’s growth and development. Here at Pooch & Mutt, we have both a wet food and dry food specifically tailored to your puppy’s needs. You can choose to offer one or the other, or to opt for mix feeding.
Pooch & Mutt’s puppy food is fresh, balanced and highly palatable, making it a popular choice in the dog food market. Grain-free and junk-free, our wet and dry diets are ideal for young dogs with developing guts. Packed with wholesome foods like chicken, sweet potato and peas, your pup will be happy to tuck into each and every meal. The added prebiotics support a healthy gut microbiome and contribute to a robust immune system.
Whichever way you choose to feed your dog, they will have their nutritional requirements met. The benefit of offering dry food is that it can be cleaner, more economical and easier to measure. It is also better for dental hygiene and can prevent periodontal disease as your dog gets older. Wet food, on the other hand, helps to keep your puppy well hydrated and to keep their kidneys and bladder flushed through. This is especially good for breeds prone to bladder stones, such as Lhasa Apsos.
If feeding a mix of wet and dry, it can be tricky to determine the right amount to give. This is where our food calculator comes in so handy. If still unsure, you can contact our resident vet to see what they think.
Should I feed my puppy a supplement?
Are you the type of person who always likes to have an ‘edge’? Nutritional supplements are the ‘icing on the cake’ when it comes to your puppy’s diet. Our new Daily Care Supplements ensure your little one is operating at full capacity.
The probiotics in our Daily Care Supplement complement the prebiotics in the Puppy Complete superfood and Puppy Wet Food beautifully. We use the Enterococcus faecium strain. A study from The Journal of Nutrition demonstrates how this can improve immune function in puppies.
The Beta Glucans in this supplement are not fed in many other supplements and may just give your dog that extra spring in their step! These carbohydrates work to bolster the immune system and fight off any infection that may come their way.
While it is not rocket science, it is important we get tall of the above right. A healthy puppy that is thriving, will be a confident and handsome adult before you know it.
Hi @Jane, if we assume a mature weight of 17kg to 18kg this would mean about 100g dry food and 1 pack of wet food per day. Hope that helps!
Hi, i have recently started Feeding my whippet / greyhound (3/4 whippet- 1/4 greyhound so just slightly than a normal whippet) your Health and Digestion complete dry food. I would like to try some of your wet food so that I can give him a mix of both. Can you tell me how much I should be feeding him? He is 16kg and 16 months old. Many thanks. Jane.