How To Properly Feed Puppies

You just got your puppy, now how do you feed him

By David HunerDavid Huner

Puppies can eat a lot and they will need two to four times as much food as an adult dog from birth to 6 months to ensure they grow up strong.  The best rule of thumb is that after the first week, where the puppy should double their weight, they should be gaining one to two grams per pound of their adult weight every day.  An example of this will be a German Shepherd puppy that will weigh 75 pounds as an adult.  This puppy will need to gain three to five ounces each day.

What Food Should You Feed Them?

Puppy food will generally be higher in protein and needs to be enriched with minerals, vitamins, and fats that are essential for growth.  The problem is that the ingredients used by different manufacturers can vary greatly.  While commercial puppy food has to meet the nutrient standards set out of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, some companies go above and beyond.  These companies will test their products to ensure they support all aspects of your puppy’s development whether that is food for large breed puppies or for smaller breeds.

This does not mean that all puppy food manufacturers do this and some will only meet the minimum nutrient standards.  With puppy food, you generally get what you pay for.  Cheaper brands will often have lower quality ingredients while performance and premium brands have higher quality that is easier for your puppy to digest.

When buying food for your pet, you have to get puppy food.  Specially made puppy foods are more likely to have the additional nutrients your young pet needs.  You should ask your vet for some guidelines on what this might be based on the size and breed of your dog.  Dog food that is marked as good for all life stages will be fine for your puppy.

As you look at food, you might want to consider breed-formulated food.  Large breed puppy food will have the nutrients that allow your puppy to grow at a gradual rate for strong bones and joints.  Small breed formulas will have smaller kibble sizes making it easier for your small puppy to eat while meeting their higher metabolic needs.  The medium breed formula will be in between, but if you cannot find a breed formulated food, you should not worry.

How Much Should You Feed Them?

While puppies need to eat a lot, they should not eat too much.  You need to be able to feel their ribs, but not see them.  When you look at them, they should have a visible waist.  This is true for all dog breeds whether they are big or small.

To ensure they get the right amount of food, you should follow the guidelines on the bag.  You can then adjust this based on your puppy’s appetite and body condition.

When To Feed Them?

From 8 to 12 weeks, your puppy should be eating three to four times each day.  Of course, not all puppies will need to eat this often.  Some puppies can be fed twice each day.  If you are going to do this, you should divide the amount of food you would normally give them into two instead of three or four.

Once your puppy reaches six months, you need to reduce the number of meals to two.  You also need to start reducing the amount of food they get at this time.  There are guidelines provided by food manufacturers that you can follow for this.  If you are still feeing them too much, they will generally let you know by leaving some food behind.  

What To Consider With Feeding

If you have a large-breed puppy, they will need slow and sustained growth.  This prevents any orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia.  These puppies should be fed large breed puppy food or food designed for adult dogs.  Regardless of the diet you choose, you should not provide too much fat, protein or calories.

Breeds that are small but chunky such as pugs will need to have lower calorie diets as well.  This is due to them being more prone to hip dysplasia.

Your puppy should be fed at set times of the day and you should not leave the food out for them.  Only small breeds like Chihuahuas are the exception as they are prone to low blood sugar.

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