Getting a new puppy can be stressful and just an overall handful. From watching those chompers from grabbing something important to struggling with potty training, your hands are definitely full for the first six months at least.
Having to feed your puppy shouldn’t be as much of a hassle, so I made this guide to help you out a bit. A good puppy feeding schedule can make a difference in your day-to-day routine with your puppy.
One less thing to worry about leaves plenty more time for cuddles and puppy kisses.
Food Motivated Puppies and Listening
If your puppy refuses to listen unless you have a treat in hand, it may be time to re-evaluate your training technique.
Starting with treats to train is not a bad thing, but there is a time to start weaning them from expecting one every time they do something. Some dogs learn they get food if they do a thing that makes you happy instead of learning why they should be doing the trick.
I have always had this problem, the best thing I could suggest is slowly giving smaller and smaller treats until there is nothing. Then the occasional one to keep the positive attitude towards the action.
Which Foods Are Best for Puppies?
The most accepted and general food people feed their puppies is kibble. If you go this route, make sure it is a puppy formula and smaller bites to not stress their growing teeth.
Though a raw diet made of biologically appropriate raw food, or BARF, is just as good. So is wet food from cans or dehydrated foods you need to wet.
If you can afford it, you can even cook your own puppy food, letting you be in control of their diet. Though for dry foods, try and look for these two options first and foremost.
Buying Puppy Formulated Foods
When you are looking through the many puppy formula kibbles or wet foods, you may be at a loss at what to choose. You want to make sure you are going for a brand that gives the right nutrients based on size or breed.
It is also best to go for higher quality brands with fewer fillers. This will help your puppy’s developing digestive system in the long run.
Breed Specific Food
There are many breed-specific foods out there. I always find these super helpful in the long run. They always target exactly what your puppy needs as they are growing.
Sometimes it may be hard to use this type of food if you have a mutt, but if you have a pedigree I would definitely go for it.
Dry or Wet Food
There is always going to be a debate over what kind of food is best. There is really no wrong answer.
As long as your puppy is getting the proper nutrition needed from whatever choice you make, there is no wrong. However, with that said, I will go through what each one has that the other doesn’t.
Canned food is great if you are going for a raw diet for your puppy. It is soft on their teeth and most often adored by any dog that eats it. However, it can be lacking in nutrients since it is most often just mashed meat.
It is best to have some supplements to go with it when feeding your puppy.
Semi-moist foods are most often dehydrated or flash frozen food you need to add water to or thaw. Dehydrated food is just as great as kibble since it has fruits and veggies in it most of the time.
Flash frozen food is basically wet food in patty shapes that you thaw and give to your dog. It rarely has more than meat.
Kibble is the most agreed upon way to feed your puppy. Most kibble has the right nutrition your puppy will need and proper supplements that would be lacking in raw food like vitamins and minerals.
However, not all kibble is great since some brands contain heavy fillers that can upset your puppy’s stomach.
First Year Feeding Timeline
The first year of puppyhood is where your dog will be developed. While they may keep the attitude for a few more years, their body will have grown to its near full ability by year one.
So each week growing, your puppy is going to need the best to keep them developing properly.
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Six weeks is about the time your puppy should be weaned and transitioned to solid food. It is best to start puppy formulated food right now, though softening it with water for a while longer.
The standard is your puppy should be eating dry food by 9 to 10 weeks for larger breeds and around 12 to 13 weeks for the smaller and teacup breeds.
It is also suggested to be feeding your puppy around 4 times a day.
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Now is around the time you would switch to three square meals a day. Your puppy should start slimming from their baby fat and looking more like their breed.
Start feeding bigger portions, though if they are still pudgy keep it to puppy sizes until they are the right body type.
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Your puppy is almost a dog! Their meals should go down to the usual two meals a day. You want to start the switch from puppy to dog food around now too.
For small to teacup breeds, this starts around 7 or 9 months.
Yet for bigger breeds, depending on development progress, you may need to continue the puppy food up to the year marker.
Year 1 and Beyond
Your puppy should be fully developed by now. It is best to have them spayed or neutered by this time to lower their energy.
The portions stay to two times a day, and their diet should consist of adult food only.
Idealistic Feeding Schedule for Puppies
While this may be the most ideal routine for your puppy, everyone is different and has different schedules.
Of course, do what you can before trying to adhere to this completely if your own schedule is completely different. The important thing is your puppy gets the activities in during the day. The time doesn’t matter as much.
6:30 A.M. Wake Up, Quick Exercise
Time to wake your puppy up and get moving around.
Try to get their energy up with a little bit of playtime or letting them run in the yard for a bit as you start your morning.
7:00 A.M. Morning Meal, Outdoor Walking, Playtime then Back to Crate
Once your puppy gets back from their exercise, give them their first meal of the day. Now try to get them out on a walk.
I know how hard it is to leash-train a puppy, so just go as far as they can go. Bring them back home and play some more before putting them back into their crate.
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10:00 A.M. Outdoor Walking, Bonding Time with Owner then Back to Crate
Try again for another walk and try and go further than you did this morning. If you can’t, simply go home and have a happy cuddle session.
Then place them back into their crate for now.
12:00 (Noon) Midday Meal
Time for lunch! Bring them out and let them eat at their own pace. They can even mill around right now until their next activity.
1:00 P.M. Outdoor Walking, Playtime then Back to Crate
Once again get them out on a walk, every time trying to get better than the last one.
Bring them back inside and have some more playtime before returning them to their crate.
5:00 P.M. Evening Meal, Outdoor Walking, Playtime
Dinner time comes next. Let them eat at their pace before going out for another walk.
Finally, bring them back in and just let them play for a while.
7:00 P.M. Short Outdoor Walk, Playtime, and then Back to Crate
Last walk of the day as well as their last play session.
Finally, put them into their crate again to settle down.
9:00 P.M. Bedtime (In his Crate or In your Bedroom)
Time for your puppy to get to bed. While you can’t force them to sleep, bring them into an environment that makes them sleepy.
If you chose the crate, cover it with a blanket in a quiet room. If it’s your bedroom, let them sleep with you or make sure it is dark and quiet for them.
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Daily Puppy Needs
Just like we do, your puppy has needs that must be met daily. Partial training and the rest of basic needs to stimulate their development.
From house training to playtime, I will go over each need they have.
House training is essential in your puppy’s routine. Getting them going outside regularly not only saves your carpet, it gives them their own space.
Your puppy should be going outside frequently throughout the entire day. Here are the best times to do so;
- Outside Upon Waking
- Outside After Breakfast
- Outside Around Noon After Second Feeding
- Outside Around 4:00 P.M.
- Outside After Dinner
- Outside Before Bed
Just as we need full meals, so does your puppy. It keeps them going through the day, and they never will go hungry.
This also helps make sure they are getting all the nutrition that need for development.
Your puppy will need plenty of water throughout the day. Especially if they are a larger breed.
Always make sure that they have a clean bowl set out and full throughout the day. If they track dirt into it, or it is bone dry, change it immediately.
Never let them go without water for too long.
If your puppy is being woken constantly for cuddle time, they will be fussy and irritated. Let them get in their sleep after heavy exercise or a fun play session.
Never wake them unless it is time for food or a walk.
Playtime is a great way to stimulate your dog’s brain. Change up the toys often and also the activities. This will keep your puppy sharp and excited every time you bring out a toy.
Plus it keeps your puppy exercising to maintain weight easier.
Always make sure to get your dog actively going at least once a day. Whether it be a walk or a heavy play session, they need it.
It is best to try and tire them out to know they got what they needed. Anything to burn some puppy energy would be beneficial for you and them.
At the end of the day, a cuddle session will bring you and your puppy closer than anything. This helps them see you as a pack member.
If you neglect just hanging out and actively giving your puppy attention, they may become shy or fearful of people.
What the Experts Say on Puppy Feeding
Experts argue often about the best way to feed your puppy. Some swear by the BARF method while others say that kibble is the best way to go.
In the end, always go for what’s best for your puppy’s health. Though there are some agreed-upon methods that just are not good.
Acceptable Feeding Methods
Both kibble and the BARF method of natural food are great methods to feed your puppy.
As long as the BARF method has the right nutrients for puppy development, there is not much harm that it causes.
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Frowned Upon Feeding Methods
The only method I can think of that is turned away for puppies is a full meat diet.
Such things as all meat wet foods have very little nutritional value and could even stunt your puppy in the long haul.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who gets a say in what goes into your puppy’s system. There are benefits and risks to every method.
I suggest doing your research and consult your vet before choosing though. Just to get the best option you can.
Raw Food Diets and Puppies
People are split on kibble and wet food. Though raw diets do have their benefits that can help your puppy in the long run.
There are also some cons to a raw diet that you may not have known about.
Best Raw Food Types
There are different types of raw diets that you may not have heard of.
BARF is for a biologically appropriate raw food diet that consists of ground-up meat and fruits and veggies that your dog can digest.
There is also the prey model that is closer to what wolves eat in the wild. This includes proteins that your dog would eat in the wild such as green tripe or uncleaned stomach.
There are also diets that are more commercial that you can buy instead of making it yourself.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
The known benefits of a raw food diet are things like less and healthy poop, healthier anal glands, better dental, interactive feeding, reduced bloat risk, and a healthy diet of no carbs or grains.
With everything in life, there are always risks. For a raw diet, it is no different. The bones in your dog’s food can cause damage from sharp bits or splinters.
The bone can also block their gut because it wasn’t digested properly. It is also a risk your dog can be introduced to infected meat, though it is a rarer occurrence.
Parasites are also a concern in raw foods. A raw diet also may cause a lack of nutritional balance since most of it is meat.
Choosing the Best Brand for Your Puppy
When looking for proper food for your puppy, you always want to look for a well-balanced nutritional meal that will maintain their health.
It is also good to look at the price and different types of food.
While you may want to just grab the cheapest brand you can since they are only a puppy for a little while, it may not be the wisest.
Most cheap foods are packed with fillers that your dog will just poop out faster than they can eat. Going for better food will cost less in the long run since they will be digesting more and eating less.
High Quality Brands
Going for a high-quality brand will benefit your puppy more than you think. These brands are often very nutritional and target the perfect diet for puppies and dogs alike where cheap food just gives what is edible.
Orijen, Nature’s Variety, Blue Buffalo, and Taste of the Wild are some great brands to check out.
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When looking at different brands, it is wise to make sure it is easily accessible locally if possible. Some foods are only made and sold in certain areas.
And while a site may claim it is the best, you may not be able to find it in any pet store. And most online retailers don’t provide the best quality.
Feeding your Puppy
Sometimes feeding your puppy isn’t as easy as it may seem. They may pick up habits that aren’t very appealing or even odd.
Here are some tips to follow when feeding your puppy.
If your puppy is growling and snapping when eating, not allowing anyone even near him when eating, you may feel like you should punish him to correct it.
This should never be done. They are just not used to eating in front of you or others.
The best way to go about it is just shown that you do not intend to steal his food and meal well when he is eating.
Trying to Eat Cat Food
If your dog is eating from the cat bowl, stop it immediately. Cat kibble has different ingredients that could make your puppy very sick.
It may be a while to train your dog not to touch it, so in the meantime keep it from reach or give your cat its own space.
The last thing you want is a fight over food with nails and teeth flying.
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Feeding in his Crate
Feeding your puppy in their crate can help most mealtime issues. It gives them their own safe area to eat and it keeps them from trying to eat anything else or beg for something else.
This will also encourage a good feeling about the crate since your puppy will now associate it with a peaceful mealtime.
Choosing the Right Bowls
While you may just want to feed your puppy from your own dishes, it is best that they have their own reliable dishes they will recognize.
Stainless steel is my go-to since it is easy to clean and lasts forever. It may be a bit noisy, but you never have to worry about it breaking.
Though if you have a puppy that loves tipping its food bowls, go for a heavy ceramic and even a slip-proof mat beneath it. No more flying food!
Maintaining a Healthy Weight for Your Puppy
Keeping your puppy at the perfect weight can be difficult, especially since they are constantly growing!
You want to keep them from getting too fat or too thin, but where to start? Try these things to help maintain your puppy’s weight from the start.
Type of Food
If your puppy seems to not be gaining any weight or too much, it may be the type of food you have them on.
If they are too thin, try to go for food with a higher protein and fat content. If it’s the other way, your food may have too many carbs or fillers.
Try switching to a higher quality food or lower the amount they get for a while.
Amount of Food
The amount of food could be affecting whether your pup isn’t the right weight. Sometimes the bag’s suggestion just may be wrong for your puppy in particular.
Try researching your puppy’s breed and going on the average regulations they need. However, simply reducing or increasing their food could help sway their weight the way you need it to go.
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If you have a pudgy puppy, to help get some weight off faster, you could take them out for more walks.
You could also have more active play sessions to get their heart beating and to wear them out a bit.
The Transition From Puppy to Adult Food
Transitioning from puppy to adult food is not as hard as it sounds. It is actually very simple.
The first thing you should do is gradually introduce the food you wish to change to. Mix in a small bit to their normal food to start.
If no allergens arise from it, slowly adjust the ratio of old to new over a few weeks or months until all that is in the bowl is their new food. This helps prevent your puppy from getting sick from a sudden change.
What Age Should You Start the Switch?
It is suggested to switch from puppy food around year one. It can be sooner for smaller breeds, but for large breeds, it could even be longer than a year.
I suggest going off of your puppy’s breed and following the guides for them.
Changing Dog Food Brands
If you are completely changing brands when you are transitioning, do the same as I mentioned above for a while.
However, if you are changing brands from what the breeder was feeding your puppy before you bring them home, always use that brand first for a few weeks until they are used to a new brand.
What to Avoid
You should always avoid making your dog switch cold turkey from one brand to another. It can make them very sick since their stomachs have to adjust to digesting the new stuff so suddenly.
You should also avoid adding in your own ingredients as supplements. Most kibbles are enough nutrition for your puppy, adding things doesn’t often help.
If you are worried about your puppy having an allergy to a certain ingredient in kibbles, I suggest buying small sample bags first.
Try feeding the new food as treats for a few days and see if any reactions begin surfacing. If nothing happens, it is safe to say it is good for your puppy.
Homemade Dog Treats
Homemade dog treats are great if you follow recipes meant for dogs. Never just give your dog table scraps as a homemade treat.
Also always double-check the ingredients in any recipe you find to ensure a dog can really digest it.
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Puppy Feeding Schedule: FAQs
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# Should Your Puppy Have Milk?
After your puppy is weaned from their mother, they should not have any more milk introduced to them.
Especially cow milk can make your puppy’s stomach ache, and you will be dealing with very foul gas issues.
# How Long Do You Feed a Puppy Three Times a Day?
You want to feed your puppy three square meals until they are 6 to 9 months old. From there you can transition them to twice a day.
# What If Your Puppy is Too Thin?
If your puppy is too thin, try adding more to their bowl every meal instead of the suggested amount.
If this doesn’t work, I suggest taking your puppy to the vet to see if there are any underlying issues.
# What If Your Puppy is Still Hungry?
Your puppy may act like they are still hungry, but this is just natural instinct.
They may want to eat all they can now since they don’t know if they will eat again. Try slowing them down with a slow feed bowl.
# When Can Puppies Drink Water?
Once your puppy has been completely weaned, they should be able to start drinking water regularly to stay hydrated.
# What if Your Puppy Refuses To Eat?
If your puppy refuses to eat, they could just be a picky eater. However, there are sometimes underlying issues.
Try to look for any stressors first before you take your puppy to the vet to see if it is medical.
Which Section Helped You Out the Most?
What part of this article helped you and your puppy out the most? Did you already know some of the topics I mentioned?
Or was it all new to you? What will you be keeping to heart when getting your new puppy? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear back from you guys!
Also, if you have anything you think should be added to the article, feel free to share! And don’t forget to like it!
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