Owning a puppy is a big responsibility. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to raising them into healthy adults, and their diet is one of the most important.
We spoke to our expert team and put together a guide to help you determine what to feed your pet, how often to them, and how to make dinner fun for all concerned.
When and how often to feed them
Most people get their pup when it is around eight weeks of age. At that age it is best to feed them three to four meals a day until they are four months old, at which point you can reduce it to three meals a day until they are six months old.
When they reach six months of age, you can reduce it to two meals a day, and continue with a morning and evening meal for the rest of their life.
When you feed them is up to you, however you should space the meals out evenly throughout the day to help them get into a routine. Also, don’t forget to take them out to toilet after they wake up from a sleep and after every meal.
Make sure you feed them in a quiet spot where they won’t be disturbed – including away from any resident pets or children.
Much like us, puppies should not be exercised immediately after eating as this can lead to bloat, especially in deep-chested breeds.
Routine and consistency are the most important things for a puppy, so try and feed them at the same times every day and make sure everyone in the household knows the rules – for example, no food from the human dinner table.
As all diets vary in nutritional content, please speak to your vet for amounts to feed your puppy.
Animal Welfare League does not recommend that you feed a home cooked or raw diet to puppies as it is almost impossible to meet their exact nutritional needs.
What should I feed them?
Puppies have different nutritional requirements to fully grown dogs – this is because they are still growing. It is therefore essential that you give them food that is specifically made for puppies, their growing bodies and the size that they are going to grow into (small breed, medium breed or large breed).
The most common cause of diarrhoea in puppies is dietary change, so keep them on the same food that they have been eating. If you do want to change their diet, it’s important to do it slowly over the course of five to seven days by mixing a small amount of new food with your puppy’s current food and gradually increasing the new food to original food ratio each day as shown in the table below.
% new food/% old food
100% new food
Puppies love fun mealtimes!
Some puppies are quick eaters and will gulp down their meals in the blink of an eye. This can actually be unsafe and can cause a condition called bloat, where the stomach fills with gas and flips, cutting off blood supply.
The best way to prevent bloat is to give your puppy their meals in a puzzle feeder, that way they’ll be forced to eat slower. These feeders are also great enrichment for your puppy, which is a great way to stimulate their mind as well as tire them out physically.
When choosing a puzzle feeder, try and get one that is an appropriate level of difficulty for your dog. If they find it too difficult, they may get frustrated and give up.
Once they have mastered the easy toys, you can move them onto something more difficult.
You can also give them their meals in toys such as Kongs, wobblers, lickmats and snuffle mats. Like puzzle feeders, these toys stimulate their mind during mealtime and act as a valuable enrichment activity.