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Walk down the dog food aisle of any large pet-supply store, or peruse the shelves at a boutique pet-food shop, and you can quickly become overwhelmed. This is especially true for puppy owners, and probably even more so for first-time puppy owners. When did it get so complicated? Back in the day, dog food options were far more limited, and even responsible dog owners didn’t worry too much about what went into their dog’s dish.
The process may now be somewhat more involved, but that’s a good thing. Higher quality ingredients with better sourcing and specialized diet formulas lead to overall better health for our puppies. And every bit as important as what to feed your puppy is having an understanding of his special nutritional needs.
All puppies are different, so if you have any concerns or questions about your puppy’s food, feeding schedule, or nutritional health, always consult your breeder or veterinarian—that’s what they’re there for.
Many puppy owners wonder, “How long should I feed puppy food?” Here is a general timeline for what your puppy needs at each stage of his first year of life.
Food for Big Puppies & Little Puppies
There are differences between the nutritional needs of small-breed and large-breed dogs, and that is especially true for puppies. Adult dogs who weigh less than 20 pounds are considered small-breed dogs. These puppies grow quickly and may reach adulthood by 9 months. Large-breed puppies (20 pounds and up), grow more slowly—it takes anywhere from 15 to 24 months to reach full size and maturity.
How much food should I give my puppy?
There’s a saying in canine feeding: Watch the dog, not the dish. Body condition, not the amount eaten or left in the bowl, should determine portion sizes. Portion sizes depend on individual metabolism and body type, and nutritional requirements vary from dog to dog. If your puppy occasionally skips a meal or picks at food, don’t worry. It could mean she is ready to eliminate a feeding or that you have given her too much, in which case simply reduce the quantity served.
Also, if you are doing treat-based training with your pup, adjust the amount you feed at mealtime accordingly. Whenever training with treats, keep the treat as small as possible.
How much food to feed your puppy? | Veterinary Approved
While it’s always important to feed your dogs well, it’s especially important to know how much to feed a puppy, so they can get the best start in life with the proper nutrition.
Your puppy’s growing bones, muscles, brain cells and tissues require specific nutrients: Too few or too many calories, over supplementing or nutrient deficiencies—all of these can be harmful to your pup in the long run, making it vital to know how much to feed a puppy. And, no, feeding a standard dog food is not the solution as most will not fulfill these needs.
If you have found yourself to be the caregiver of a puppy (or puppies—lucky you!), take a look through our guide below to learn how much to feed a puppy. It will help you understand what your puppy needs nutritionally through every stage of their young life so you can help them thrive.