Learning how much to feed a puppy is an important step for anyone welcoming a new dog into their home. And, the answer might be more complicated than you would first think!
How much to feed a puppy will depend on the type of food you have chosen to give, as well as what type of puppy you have and their age.
Whether you’ve chosen wet, dry, or even raw food, we will help you learn the best puppy feeding schedule for your dog.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at everything this full guide will cover.
There’s a lot of information to take in here. So, you can use the links below if you’re looking for something specific.
- Puppy Food at Various Ages
- What to Feed a Puppy
- How Much to Feed a Puppy
- How Often to Feed a Puppy
- Puppy Feeding Schedule
- My Puppy is Still Hungry!
- Overweight Puppies
- Puppy Treats
- Using Food in Training
- Foods to Avoid
- Moving on from Puppy Food
- Puppy Feeding Tips
Puppy Food at Various Ages
Feeding a puppy isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Puppies have very different nutritional needs to adult dogs, and can’t eat big portions from a young age.
Newborn puppies don’t even eat solid food. So, let’s take a look at what puppies eat from the time they’re born, to the time they are considered adults.
0 to 4 Weeks Old
Puppies shouldn’t get taken away from their mothers until they’re 8 weeks old. But, even in their first two months, puppy diets change a lot!
From the time they’re born, until around 4 weeks old, puppies will get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk.
They likely won’t eat any solid foods at all.
4 to 6 Weeks Old
From 4 to 6 weeks old, puppies will start to transition to solid food. But, they will still be drinking from their mom at this time too!
Not only does this give them a proper balance of nutrients, but it also helps to teach them bite inhibition.
Puppies have teeth by the time they’re 5 weeks old. So, feeding puppies can be a pretty painful experience for their mom!
She will teach them to feed gently at this period in their life.
6 to 8 Weeks Old
At this stage in your puppy’s life, many pups will no longer be feeding from their moms. They are often completely weaned onto solid foods at this stage.
During this period of life, your puppy’s breeder will have helped the pups transition to solid foods.
8 to 12 Weeks Old
Your puppy is old enough to come home with you at 8 weeks old. But, moving into a new home can be quite a strange and stressful experience for a puppy.
So, you should make sure your puppy’s diet stays the same when you bring them home. Find out exactly what your breeder was feeding the pups!
You can slowly transition from this food to another type of solid food. But don’t do this too quickly. Transitioning too quickly can cause an upset stomach.
Puppies that are this young will need several small meals a day – splitting their daily allowance into at least 4 portions. This is because their stomachs are too small for large portions.
3 to 6 Months Old
By this age, your puppy will be much more settled into your home. This is the time that you will transition your puppy from four meals a day, down to 3 meals a day.
Some puppies might struggle with this at first, so don’t rush the process. If your puppy gets an upset stomach when you try to change to 3 meals, you can go back to 4 meals for a while longer.
6 to 12 Months Old
This is the period where your puppy will transition from 3 meals down to 2 meals.
Again, like before, your puppy might not settle with this change straight away. So, don’t rush it if your dog gets an upset stomach!
12 Months +
Depending on the breed of dog you have, your puppy may be ready to transition to adult food at one year old.
This will depend on when your puppy has reached maturity and is fully grown.
Large and giant dog breeds can take up to two or three years to reach maturity. So, discuss with your vet if you’re unsure about what age your dog can transition to adult food.
What to Feed a Puppy
As well as knowing how much to feed a puppy, you also need to know what you want to feed your puppy.
The most popular options are: dry kibble, wet food, or raw diets. We will take a look at the pros and cons of these options in a moment.
But first, let’s find out why a specific puppy food is so important. Why can’t puppies eat the same food as adult dogs?
The main difference between puppies and adult dogs is that puppies go through a period of pretty intense growth and development. So, they have very different nutritional needs to adult dogs.
Growing animals need much more energy than adults. But, this doesn’t mean you should just feed your puppy as much as possible.
Excess body weight caused by overeating as a puppy has been linked to health problems like hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and more. Especially in large breed puppies.
Puppies need a delicate balance of vitamins and nutrients. Not just as much food as possible.
So How Much Food Do Puppies Need?
How much to feed puppies will depend on the type of dog you have.
We will look at it in a bit more detail later. But generally, the amount of food your puppy needs will correlate to their predicted adult weight.
One study suggests that weaning puppies need twice as much energy per kg of predicted adult weight. Although this decreases as your puppy gets closer to its adult size.
Puppies are individuals. There can even be variation in growth rates of dogs that are the same breed. So if you’re concerned that your dog isn’t eating the right amount, the best person to check with is your vet.
Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of different puppy foods, in case you haven’t decided what type to feed your puppy.
Dry Puppy Food
Dry puppy food is also known as kibble. It is very popular with owners who use positive reinforcement training on their puppies or who need to take puppy food on the go.
Kibble is easy to store, and can be kept for long periods. So, you can stock up and bulk buy to save money.
This food type is designed to provide the right balance of nutrients for your puppy, so you don’t have to spend time and energy figuring this out. And you can buy it pretty much everywhere.
But, you will need to ensure it is stored in an airtight container, to avoid any contamination.
And, because this food type is so popular, there are lots of brands to choose from. Some of these are less credible and less healthy for your dog than others.
So, make sure you always look at the ingredients of dry kibble puppy food.
Wet Puppy Food
Wet puppy food is either fed on its own, or used to top up kibble meals. This type of puppy food often doesn’t last as long as kibble, so you won’t be able to bulk buy as much.
It can also be more expensive than dry puppy foods.
And, like kibble, it is a popular choice. So, you will need to put research into the ingredients inside the food.
Some people are put off by wet puppy food because it smells a lot stronger than kibble. But lots of dogs love this strong scent!
Plus, it is designed to have all the nutrients your puppy needs, and it takes very little preparation.
Raw Puppy Diets
A third option to consider is raw puppy food, or BARF diets. This involves preparing your dog’s food at home, often with raw meat, to achieve a natural diet similar to that of wild dogs or wolves.
Many people are concerned with raw diets because they involve eating bones, and bone fragments. You can read more about this debate here.
Raw diets can make training harder – as you cannot carry around raw meat like you would with kibble. Plus, raw meat in the house can seem unsanitary. It is often not feasible if you have young children.
But, raw diets can help stop problems like smelly poop and improve dental health. Plus, it can help with problems like bloat, which some studies have linked to a dry-food-only diet.
How Much to Feed a Puppy
The great thing about using kibble or wet dog food, is that they often come with a feeding guide on the packaging.
This will usually use the size and age of your dog as a guide. But, this could be too much or too little for individual dogs.
So, regularly examine your dog too. If you can see your dog’s ribs, she is likely not eating enough. But, if your dog has no clear body definition, and looks plump, you may be overfeeding her.
Ideally, you should be able to feel but not see your dog’s ribs.
How Much to Feed a Puppy Chart
Feeding charts often look at how much to feed a puppy by weight. Some of these will use cups, and some will use a more specific measurement, like grams.
Here are two examples for you to take a look at.
Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food
The Eukanuba puppy feeding chart uses your dog’s predicted adult weight to determine the amount of food he needs at various ages.
Here are the suggested quantities for Eukanuba’s puppy food:
|Adult Weight (lbs)||2 Months||5 Months||8 Months||12 Months|
Diamond Premium Recipe Puppy Food
But let’s compare this to Diamond Premium Recipe puppy food, another kibble brand. This brand measures food quantities using standard U.S. measuring cups.
Here are the suggested daily quantities for Diamond’s food:
|Weight (lbs)||6 - 12 weeks||3 - 5 months||5 - 8 months||8 - 12 months|
|5||1 and 1/4||1||2/3||1/2|
|10||1 and 3/4||1 and 2/3||1 and 1/4||1|
|20||3||2 and 2/3||1 and 3/4||1 and 1/2|
|30||4||3 and 1/2||2 and 1/2||2|
So, we can see that there will be variation depending on your dog’s predicted adult size. No two dogs are the same. So, if you’re worried about how much to feed a puppy, your vet can help you with a feeding plan.
How Often to Feed Your Puppy
We’ve looked at how much to feed your puppy, and seen that this will change depending on how old your puppy is, and how large he is going to be as an adult.
But, let’s take a closer look at how often to feed your puppy.
- 8 – 12 weeks old: 4 meals a day
- 3 to 6 months old: 3 meals a day
- 6 to 12 months old: 2 meals a day
Puppies need frequent smaller meals to avoid overloading their small stomachs.
Diarrhea is a common symptom of puppies filling their tummies with too much in one go.
Some might not be able to transition from 4 to 3 meals as soon as they hit 12 weeks, or 3 to 2 meals at 6 months old. So, take it slowly, and revert back to more meals if you need to.
Puppy Feeding Schedule
The best puppy feeding schedule for you will depend on your lifestyle and daily habits. But, the meals need to be spread out evenly throughout the day – he can’t have all of his meals when you’re eating dinner at night.
If you put down all your puppy’s food at once, he will eat until he is sick. Which is why a regular feeding schedule is important.
Puppies that are fed ad libitum – with constant access to food – have been associated with bone and joint problems. So, here are some puppy food schedule ideas.
4 Meals a Day
Here is an idea of puppy scheduling when your puppy is eating 4 meals a day:
Of course, this won’t work for everyone. But, generally, don’t feed your puppy as soon as you wake up – otherwise they will be waking you up earlier and earlier for breakfast!
And, try to leave a gap between your puppy’s last meal and bedtime. This will reduce the risk of your puppy waking you for the bathroom in the middle of the night.
3 Meals a Day
When you’re reducing this pattern to 3 meals a day, you might choose a schedule like this:
These times don’t have to be completely rigid. You can be a little flexible, but try to keep to the same time each day if possible.
If you feed your puppy very late in the evening, it’s more likely they’ll need to get up in the night to poop.
Try feeding them at least three hours before bed time, so they can digest and poop before you all turn in for the night!
My Puppy is Still Hungry!
Sometimes, you will follow advice on how much to feed a puppy perfectly, but your pup will still act hungry!
Many puppies will eat everything as quickly as possible and beg for more, especially before they are used to a regular feeding routine.
Your puppy may act hungry because they don’t know when they’re next going to eat. As we mentioned earlier, some puppies will just keep eating until they’re sick if given the chance!
Use your puppy’s weight as a guide. Check with your vet to see if your puppy is underweight and needs to eat more.
You might also be concerned that you’re feeding your puppy too much food and getting a fat puppy on your hands!
Again, the best person to advise you here is your vet. They will be able to show you the size your puppy should be, and work out a feeding plan for your individual pup.
Generally, you should be able to feel, but not see, your puppy’s ribs. If your puppy has no clear waist, or you struggle to feel his ribs when you place your hands on his sides, take them to the vet for further advice.
Sometimes puppies can become overweight because of all the extra treats they eat, as well as their normal food.
When preparing for a puppy, you’ll see there are hundreds and thousands of exciting tasty treats on offer in pet stores.
It can be tempting to get a selection of these and feed them to your puppy throughout the day. Especially when you’re trying to train your new friend.
But, too many treats on top of your puppy’s regular food allowance can lead to obesity.
This doesn’t mean that puppy treats are bad. They can be a great tool when training, especially when your puppy needs some extra motivation!
But, everything in moderation. Don’t overdo it with the treats.
Using Food in Training
The best way to use food when training your puppy is to take food from their daily allowance. If your puppy is eating kibble, this will be easy!
If you are raw feeding your dog, you can look into finding some bitesize, frozen meat pieces. Although, you won’t be able to just carry these around with you all the time in your pocket!
Don’t panic if your dog has barely any, or even no food when it comes to your scheduled mealtime.
Your puppy will still be getting all the food he needs each day, as long as training food comes from his daily allowance.
Food to Avoid
Of course, when searching how much to feed your puppy, and what to feed a puppy, there will be foods to avoid. This most often includes ‘human’ foods, or food designed for other pets.
For instance, cat food isn’t suitable for puppies. It will have a completely different nutritional balance to what your puppy needs.
If you have a cat, it may be wise to feed them in an area that your puppy can’t access. Such as somewhere high up.
Alternatively, you may be wondering if you can share your food with a new puppy. Generally, feeding human scraps on top of their normal food can contribute to problems like obesity, so should be avoided.
Plus, some human foods are toxic for puppies and older dogs. Always check if a food is safe before you give it to your dog.
You can take a look at our food section for some helpful guides.
Moving on from Puppy Food
If your puppy is a little older, you may be wondering whether to try them on adult food. It’s important to wait until your puppy has finished growing before you change them to adult food.
This is because puppy food has an important blend of nutrients to help aid your puppy’s growth.
Puppies mature at different speeds, with smaller breeds generally maturing faster than large and giant breeds.
Puppy Feeding Tips
Before we finish, we will leave you with a few tips that you might find useful when deciding how much to feed your dog.
- Make sure everyone in the house sticks to your feeding plan. This means no sneaky treats under the dinner table, and no duplicate meals!
- Your puppy should have constant access to fresh water.
- If your puppy doesn’t react well to a certain brand of food, switch to a new brand gradually. Changing foods too quickly can cause an upset stomach, and problems like vomiting and diarrhea.
- If you’re unsure about anything, the best person to speak to is your vet!
How Much to Feed a Puppy – Summary
So, now we’ve seen how much to feed a puppy, as well as the different types of food you might want to consider!
The amount of food, as well as the number of meals your puppy needs will change depending on age and breed!
So, no single answer fits all puppies.
How much does your puppy eat? Have you found any great training treats that your puppy has loved?
Make sure to let us know about your experiences with how much to feed a puppy in the comments!
References and Resources
- Kelley, R. & Lepine, A. ‘Improving Puppy Trainability Through Nutrition’, Iams Canine Pediatric Care Symposium (2005)
- Greco, D. ‘Pediatric Nutrition’, Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice (2014)
- Jeusette, I. & Romano, V. ‘Puppy Nutrition’, Advance Veterinary Research Reports
- Hemmings, C. ‘Nutrition for Puppies’, The Veterinary Nurse (2018)
- Glickman, L. T. (et al), ‘Multiple Risk Factors for the Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Syndrome in Dogs: A Practitioner/Owner Case-Control Study’, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (1997)
- Dammrich, K. ‘Relationship Between Nutrition and Bone Growth in Large and Giant Dogs’, The Journal of Nutrition (1991)