Puppy Feeding Guide

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Puppy Feeding Guide

Puppies are just like babies.

They have different needs than an adult dog.

This article provides important informations about puppy nutrition.

Table of Contents

  1. When should my puppy be weaned?
  2. How to wean my puppy?
  3. Puppy Care & Nutrition
  4. Can I feed my puppy adult dog food?
  5. When should I feed my puppy?
  6. How much should I feed my puppy?
  7. Does my puppy need a calcium supplement?
  8. What type of food should I give my puppy? Raw, dry, wet or homemade?
  9. When should I switch my puppy food to an adult formula?
  10. How much water does my puppy need per day?
  11. Can my puppy have treats?

My best advice as a veterinarian is:

Giving your puppy a good start life is the best thing you can do to make sure he’ll be happy and healthy for years to come.

When should my puppy be weaned?

During the first six to eight weeks of life, the puppy should stay with the mother and be allowed to nurse.

Mother’s milk provides good nutrition and antibodies to help protect your puppy from diseases.

In situations that the mom is ill or doesn’t produce enough milk or if the puppies are orphans it may be necessary to feed a commercial milk replacer.

In these scenarios, you should contact your veterinarian for advice about the product and feeding recommendations.

Ideally, weaning your puppy to solid food should take place over the course of two or three weeks.

Starting around four to six weeks of age.

How to wean my puppy?

Begin to introduce a puppy balanced food mixed with a milk replacer, three to four times a day. You can use a blender to mix the puppy food with the milk.

Gradually reduce the quantity of milk replacer.

By around eight weeks of age, your puppy should be eating solid food.

This way your puppy will progressively learn to adapt to solid food and digestive problems are decreased.

A puppy’s digestive system needs time to adjust to solid food. If a puppy swallowing ability hasn’t developed enough he can choke on the solid food.

puppy feeding

Puppy Care & Nutrition

Every puppy needs the basics:

  • Appropriate nutrition
  • Lots of love
  • Time to play and sleep

“One size fits all” approach nutrition is a wrong idea.

Factors like size, breed, exercise, environment, age, hereditary and others, play an important role in the nutritional requirements of your puppy.

An imbalanced diet can increase your puppy´s risk of:

  • Obesity
  • Excessively fast growth
  • Skeletal growth related diseases
  • Poor muscle and bone development
  • Depressed immune function

Can I feed my puppy adult dog food?

No. Adult dog foods and puppy foods are different.
Puppy food is calculated in particular for the nutritional requirements of a young and still growing dog, with twice the daily nutritional requirements that adult dogs need.

Puppies are growing and developing rapidly – bones, muscles, joints, internal organs and immune system – these developmental requirements need to be met by nutrition.

Puppies have high caloric and nutritional needs.

The best puppy foods should be a good source of:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Calories

When should I feed my puppy?

Puppies should be fed three to four times a day until they reach six months of age.

Remember that dogs love routines, so meals should be given at the same time every day.

Puppies should never have food available all the time because there is a good chance that they eat all the food at once.

How much should I feed my puppy?

Smaller meals are easier to digest.

The amount of food that your puppy requires will depend on the breed and on the specific nutritional needs. Puppy food packaging usually indicates the recommended amount of food.

You can monitor your dog’s body condition once a week. You should feel his ribs but you shouldn’t be able to easily see his ribs.

Does my puppy need a calcium supplement?

Calcium powder supplements should not be given (unless directed by a veterinarian).

Puppies eating a commercial dog food do not need extra calcium since calcium is added to the food.

Excessive calcium supplementation is associated with the development of canine hip dysplasia and may increase the risk of calcium oxalate stone development in the urinary tract.

What type of food should I give my puppy? Raw, dry, wet or homemade?

This is habitually a matter of personal preference.

In my opinion, the ideal type of puppy food is dry type because it contains more meat protein.

Additionally, it is more practical, cost-effective, better to keep the teeth clean, and easy to digest.

When should I switch my puppy food to an adult formula?

A puppy should be fed puppy food until he is about a year old. But it can be different according to with the breed of your puppy.

Feeding puppy food too long can result in obesity and orthopedic problems.

Breed Size Age to Switch
Small Breed 10 -12 months
Medium Breed 12 – 16 months
Large & Giant Breed 18 – 24 months


How much water does my puppy need per day?

Puppies need plenty of water. However having water always available will encourage the puppy to drink more than he needs, making housetraining a potential problem.

One possible solution is to offer your dog water in schedule times of the day, and take him outside shortly after so he can relieve himself.

Can my puppy have treats?

A treat is a reward for wanted behavior.

Puppies can be trained as early as 6 weeks of age. Foods such as chicken, fruits or vegetables are tasty and healthy treats.

Commercially dog treats may contain harmful chemicals.

Remember that treats should make up no more than 5 % of your puppy’s daily nutrient intake.

In the following weeks, you can find and consult details about puppy foods designed for small, medium, large and giant dog breeds in our website.

A balanced and complete nutrition is crucial to any dog’s health, so ensure your puppy is getting all he needs from day one.

Related articles:

  1. Can dogs drink milk?
  2. Can dogs drink almond milk?

About the Author:

Hi! I'm Dora Mancha, DVM. I am graduated for the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Lisbon (2009). My degree is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). I completed my degree in Veterinary Medicine in July, 2009. Over the first years as a veterinarian my work was closely related to the animal health field. I have gained some average experience having worked in Barcelona University (UAB) Equine Hospital and by working with veterinarians in Portugal. In addition, in 2009 - 2010 I was in Madrid at the University Alfonso X el Sábio doing an internship in the equine service. I am also very interested in small animal medicine and surgery. In fact I worked in several small animals clinics in Portugal improving my knowledge about small animal behavior and health. Dogs always have been present in my life, since I was a child. At the present moment I have four dogs a Labrador, a Epagnheul Breton, a Whippet and a mixed breed dog.

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