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Everything you need to know about puppy feeding times

brown Labrador eating kibble on the floor

A well balanced nutrition is important for your puppy's health

© Switlana Sonyashna - Shutterstock

Raising a puppy is always a very challenging task! You must learn many things, especially about his nutrition. Here we will learn about the importance of puppy feeding times.

By Daniel Mar

Updated on the 01/06/2021, 15:33

If you’re about to bring home a new puppy, get ready for that rollercoaster! Surely you have seen in movies or TV shows that puppies are crazy and adorable at the same time! They grow very fast. But if you want to maintain your pup’s health, you need to take care of him which includes prioritising his nutrition.

Puppies need a quality, balanced nutrition to keep them active and growing at the appropriate rate. That is why knowing how to set proper puppy feeding times is vital when raising a pet.

First-year timeline of feeding your puppy

6–12 weeks: pups should be fed soft or wet puppy food because it is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs for normal development, while not being difficult to crunch through. When it comes to puppy feeding time, it should be four feedings a day. Large breeds can transition to puppy dry food by the age of nine or 10 weeks; small dogs by the 12 or 13 weeks.

3–6 months: decrease puppy feeding times from four to three a day. At this point, his body will be growing rapidly. Food should be a dry puppy food.

6–12 months: Begin feeding two times a day. Food should be a dry puppy or junior food.

After age 1: maintain feeding at twice a day. Sometime between one and two years old, your pup can be transitioned from a puppy food to an adult food.

What makes up a puppy diet?

Puppy meals should consist of a healthy and well-balanced diet. This means dog food that contains no fillers and sugar. Always buy high-quality foods that will give your dog all the nutrition his growing body requires.

Check out these top 10 nutritional tips to make sure your puppy is healthy

Puppy diets should have a high amount of protein, as protein is vital for growth. Commercially produced puppy foods will guarantee a certain amount of protein, as well as an ideal balance of nutrients, to ensure your pup stays healthy.

When buying a puppy food, be sure to take note of the ingredients on the packaging. The first few ingredients should be named meat proteins (for example ‘chicken’ rather than ‘animal meats’), followed by ingredients such as rice and vegetables.

How often should puppy feeding times be?

Puppy feeding times are usually three meals a day, preferably at the same time. The first meal should be around 7 a.m., then another at noontime for lunch, and the last at 5 p.m. for dinner.

You can change the time for the first two as you please, but the last meal should always be around 5 p.m. so that he will have plenty of time to digest his food and eliminate one last time before bedtime. If you give it later, your puppy may feel he needs to use the toilet during the night.

The importance of weight and puppy feeding times

You need to weigh the puppy weekly and record his progress! This will show you how well he is metabolising his diet. You need to adjust his food intake to achieve an average rate of growth. Once you know your pup’s weight, you can adjust his daily intake of food. If you don’t follow this simple rule, your puppy could end up eating too little or too much, and either way is harmful!

However, as a general rule, a good place to start is by reading your puppy’s food packaging. All pet food much come with a feeding guide, where you can estimate your puppy’s adult weight, and read off from that column how much food he should be fed based on your puppy’s current age or weight.

Check out our Vet's tips: Puppy feeding chart by weight and age

When can you start feeding a puppy two times a day?

When your puppy reaches six months, you can start feeding them twice daily. This transition can be made anytime between six months and a year. The reason for waiting until then is because puppies are not as good at regulating their blood sugar levels as adult dogs, and therefore need more frequent feeding to ensure they stay at an ideal level.

Interesting tips when feeding your puppy

  1. Avoid feeding your pup the moment you get home as it can encourage separation anxiety.
  2. Do not feed your puppy with canned or dry prescription diets unless told by a vet. This is used to feed dogs with kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious conditions.
  3. Some vitamin or mineral supplements, when used incorrectly, will do more harm than good so you must be careful!
  4. Offer carrots or apples as treats. Cut them in small chunks! These are healthy low-calorie snacks most dogs love.
  5. Keep fresh water available at all times.

Final thoughts

Eventually, you will have to switch from puppy to adult food. This needs to be done slowly and consistently! And it will affect your puppy feeding times. Also, an adult dog won’t need as much as a puppy. Remember that at the end of the day, your puppy's lifelong health and happiness is your responsibility and this can be directly affected by nutrition! Get it right from the start.

Reviewed by Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS