When and how often to feed your puppy

Emma Frain 26 November 2021

If you’re anything like me, you’ll like having a set routine to stick to. Indeed, puppies and dogs alike will thrive when put on a feeding schedule and appreciate knowing when to expect their meals. As each puppy will have its own specific needs, we’ve written this article to help you create the best puppy feeding schedule for your little bundle of fluff. You will find that the schedule will change as your puppy matures.

 

Most puppies are fully weaned from their mother at eight weeks and are re-homed shortly after. Their new feeding schedule can be put into place right away. Stick to a high quality puppy food that your dog enjoys the taste of. Our Pooch & Mutt Puppy Food Range is the perfect choice, whether you opt to give dry, wet or mixed meals. A nutritionally balanced diet designed for puppies will ensure they develop into happy and healthy adults.

 

Why having a puppy feeding schedule is important

 

Sure, you could ‘wing it’ if you wanted. However, this will likely end up causing more stress than anticipated. Without a proper routine, both you and your pup may struggle. Feeding on an ad hoc basis can disrupt sleep and toilet training and may even lead to issues around food. Puppies who get overly hungry may scoff their meal down quickly, which can result in regurgitation. Conversely, those who are fed too often can soon become over-weight.

 

Putting a feeding schedule in place from the beginning helps to take the pressure off. Both you and your puppy know where you stand. The puppy is content that they will be fed at a certain time and shouldn’t be begging or scrounging for food in between meals. Some breeds, such as the Labrador and Beagle, are especially food-driven. These dogs in particular benefit from knowing when their next meal is due.

 

How often should you feed your puppy?

 

How often to feed a puppy is something that is dependent on your pup’s breed, age and activity levels. How often a puppy eats will change as they grow and develop.

 

Initially, we should stick to the ‘little and often’ rule. Their stomachs are small and less able to hold large meals. Over-feeding can lead to bloating and discomfort.

 

So, how many times a day should a puppy eat?

 

As a rule of thumb, most will eat as follows:

 

2-3 months old

3 or 4 meals daily

Smaller dogs benefit from more regular meals at this age

3-6 months old

3 meals daily

 

6-12 months old

2-3 meals daily

Some small breeds may still appreciate three meals, though most dogs will only need two

12 months & over

1 or 2 meals daily

Larger dogs tend to eat less often and some choose to eat only once daily when fully mature

 

 

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.

 

What are some of the best puppy feeding times?

 

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:

 

6am-7am

Wake up & Toilet

 

7am-8am

Morning Meal

 

8am-10am

Morning Exercise outdoors and Training session

A few training treats are a good idea now

12pm-2pm

Afternoon Meal & Toilet Break

 

2pm-4pm

More training & some brain games

Again, a few training treats may be appropriate

4pm-6pm

Evening Exercise

*This is peak ‘zoomies’ time so burning energy productively is important

6pm-7pm

Evening Meal & Toilet break

 

 

*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.

 

Getting the most out of your puppy feeding schedule

 

A good puppy feeding schedule should be adapted to your dog. As your puppy grows, you may find they inherently want to eat less often.

 

Typically, we will reduce meals to twice daily at 6 months old for medium to large breed dogs. They often make this decision for us, choosing to skip one of their meals during the day. This is most often the morning meal. Initially, they may skip a few meals a week, perhaps on their less active days. As they continue to grow, they will generally stick to two daily meals.

 

Smaller breeds may continue on three daily meals for a few months longer. Continue offering the meals if they are eager to eat them and growing well.

 

Top Tip

 

Overdoing things like treats and chews may disrupt your puppy’s feeding schedule. You might well find that they start ignoring meals and begging for treats! This is not a good idea as your puppy requires all of the macro and micro-nutrients provided by their diet. If this starts to happen, cut right back on those treats.