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The Best Feeding Schedule for New Puppies

puppy malamute eating from bowl

How to put together a puppy feeding schedule that works for you and your pup

Obviously, dogs need to eat, but what if you’re new to this whole doggy parenting life? If you have a new pup at home, then the odds are good that you also have a lot of questions, especially when it comes to feeding your little nugget. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think once you know the basics. Take some time to read this and before you know it, you’ll have a puppy feeding schedule that fits into your lifestyle and works for both you and your new furry friend. 

What Should Puppies Eat?

Of course, one of your biggest questions is probably what to feed your puppy. Dog food comes in many different forms and varieties, from varying textures, tastes, nutrients, and more. Plus, different foods are better suited for certain breeds, as well as specific life stages. For example, there are formulas that are designed for small breeds, others that are geared specifically to large breeds, and there are foods that focus on senior dogs, while others are made especially for puppies. If you have a young pup at home, then you may already have guessed that you need high-quality puppy food, but even then, there are many factors to consider.

Concentrate on foods that contain at least two sources of animal protein and offer a well-balanced mix of nutrients. Your puppy’s food should be comprised of roughly 25-30% quality protein, 42% complex carbohydrates, and 15-20% healthy fats. In addition to these important food groups, there should also be a balanced blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and water. Avoid foods that include a lot of fillers and artificial flavors, and steer clear of ingredients like animal by-products, animal digest, and other components that offer little to no nutritional value. 

What’s the Difference Between Wet and Dry Dog Foods?

One of the main questions that you might ask yourself when looking at the various brands of puppy food is should you go with wet or dry, or perhaps some combination of the two? You might wonder if one type of food is better than the other; well, it all depends on your particular pooch and your situation. Both dry and wet foods have their advantages and disadvantages. 

puppy wet food

Wet Food

One question that often comes up when it comes to giving your dog wet food, is the issue of how it affects your pup’s teeth. You may be under the impression that feeding your puppy wet food will cause tooth decay, but this is not necessarily the case. Roughly 80% of dogs have issues with dental health, and it’s not because they all eat canned dog food. However, if you do opt to serve your puppy wet food, especially if he comes from a breed that is predisposed to dental issues, be prepared to be extra vigilant with your dog’s dental care. 

Wet food can be a bonus for dogs that need extra hydration; if your pup doesn’t seem to be a big drinker, then serving canned dog food can help fend off dehydration.  If your puppy is a finicky eater, he might be more apt to eat wet food because it usually has more intense aromas and flavors. Since canned food is soft, it is easier to eat if your pup has any issues with his teeth, gums, or jaw. It is important to keep in mind that the shelf life of canned dog food is not very long and once it is opened it needs to be refrigerated.  Also, wet dog food tends to be more expensive than dry dog food, due in part to the fact that it must be purchased in smaller quantities. 

puppy food multicolor

Dry Food

Dry food is much easier to store than wet food, and it lasts for a longer period of time, often making it more cost-effective. You can also use dry kibble as training treats for your pup, provided he likes the taste enough, and there are several dry foods that are specially designed to clean your pup’s teeth as he chews. However, dry food does not provide as much moisture as wet food, so make sure your pup gets plenty of water in addition to his daily meals. 

How Many Times a Day Should Puppies Eat?

How many times your puppy needs to eat each day differs from dog to dog. It is definitely advised to feed your dog several small meals throughout the day to prevent issues like choking, vomiting, or inhaling food which can lead to aspiration pneumonia and other potential health concerns. Depending on your pup’s daily food requirements, you might feed him about three to four times a day.  

golden retriever puppy eating

How Much Food Do Puppies Need To Eat?

There’s no blanket statement that can tell you how much your puppy needs to eat each day because your puppy is unique. In other words, there are a lot of different elements that come into play when deciding on the appropriate amount of food for your pup. The amount of food your dog needs to eat depends on things like his breed, his current weight and his weight at maturity, his exact age, his activity level, and special circumstances, like health conditions, weight problems, or any medications that he might be taking. Whatever dog food you decide on will give you a general idea of what to feed your puppy, courtesy of a handy dandy feeding chart on the packaging. You can use this information as a starting point, as well as consulting with your veterinarian. 

Once you have a ballpark amount, divide it into three to four small meals for your pooch and serve in a bowl that encourages your pup to pace herself, while keeping your floors tidy. After all, just because puppies tend to be messy eaters doesn’t mean your floors have to suffer. Dog bowls like the Double Diner are an easy way to keep mealtimes safe for your pup and mess-free for you. As the days go by, carefully monitor your pup’s weight and growth to determine if he is getting the necessary calories and nutrition for his stage of growth and development. If anything seems off, consult your vet and adjust the amount of food accordingly. 

As your puppy gets older, the amount of food he needs will adjust. For example, when your puppy is three months old, he will have different dietary requirements from when he is eight months old, and as he gets older he will most likely eat less. This means that you might start out feeding your puppy four times a day, then transition him to three times a day, and eventually end up feeding him twice a day as an adult. Therefore, watch your growing pup closely and adjust his feeding schedule as needed.

Should You Use a Puppy Feeding Schedule?

The short answer to whether or not you need a feeding schedule for your puppy is, yes, you do. Ultimately, having a schedule in place for your pup’s meals is very beneficial because it helps keep things on track, for your puppy and for you. A successful feeding schedule is also a valuable tool while house-training your dog.  Basically, the goal is to coordinate your pup’s feeding times with other key parts of his schedule, like playtime and potty breaks. For example, your pup’s feeding schedule might look something like this:

7:00 am

Quick morning walk/potty break

7:30 am

First meal

7:50 am

Pick up food dish, playtime

8:15 am

Walk/potty time, then rest in crate

9:00 am

Playtime/bonding time, return to crate

12:00 pm

Second Meal

12:20 pm

Pick up food dish, playtime

12:45 pm

Outdoor walk, potty break, playtime

2:00 pm

Bonding time/rest in crate

3:00 pm

Possible third meal if you will be feeding your pup four times a day

3:20 pm

Pick up food dish/playtime

3:45 pm

Quick walk/potty break

4:00 pm

Bonding time/Rest in Crate

5:00 pm

Final Meal

5:20 pm

Pick up dish, playtime

5:45 pm

Quick walk/potty break

6:00 pm

Playtime/Rest in crate

7:00 pm

Final walk/potty break/bedtime in crate

You probably can see that this schedule follows a pretty clear pattern; your puppy eats, plays then has an opportunity to go outside and potty (usually about 20 minutes after eating), followed by some alone time to rest and recharge in his crate. Then, rinse and repeat. Another important point is that each mealtime provides your pup with about twenty minutes to eat, after which you pick up the food dish so your pup doesn’t get used to having food available at all times. You can adjust the times as needed to fit better within your own lifestyle, but this should give you a good idea of how to set up your dog’s feeding schedule. 

puppies eating out of a white bowl

How Long Do Puppies Need to Eat Puppy Food?

Once your puppy has been completely weaned from his mother, usually, when he is about 7 weeks old, it’s time to start him on nutritious puppy food. Often, when you get a new puppy, you have to wait until the pup is 8 weeks old, this is so he can complete the weaning process before moving into his new home.  Once you find a puppy food that is a good fit for your pooch and your lifestyle, your pet will most likely enjoy that food for most of his puppyhood. As your dog advances through the various puppy stages, you can adjust the amount of food to keep pace with your pal’s rapid development. 

Somewhere between 12 and 16 months old, depending on his breed (some of the largest breeds may even eat puppy food for up to two years), your puppy will start to transition to adult dog food. When this time comes, don’t forget that it’s also time to evaluate your dog’s dishes. As your pup grows, you might need larger food and water dishes, and you also may want to consider elevating his dishes. Some dishes, like the Neater Feeder Deluxe have optional leg extensions that you can use to elevate your pup’s dishes as he grows taller. 

Quick Tips for Feeding Your Puppy

  • Don’t feed your dog any table food, no matter how cute his big puppy dog eyes are when he begs.
  • Don’t leave your puppy’s food dish down all day; place it down for 15-20 minutes and then pick it up. 
  • Stick to your puppy’s feeding schedule. 
  • Monitor your pup while he eats to make sure he is not eating too fast; if he is, you may want to consider using a slow feed bowl.
  • If your puppy turns his nose up at the food you’ve selected, you may need to try different food. You can also sprinkle a little wet food over dry kibble to make it a bit more enticing for your dog. 
  • If your puppy simply won’t eat, and you’ve tried different foods, talk with your vet as soon as possible. 
  • Don’t overindulge your puppy with treats and edible chews. 
  • Provide your puppy with adequate access to freshwater throughout the day.
  • Transition your puppy to his new adult food over a couple of weeks. Start with a mix of mostly puppy food with a small amount of adult food, and gradually flip-flop the two over a period of time to avoid any intestinal upset.

Hopefully, this helps you get off to a great start with your new puppy! Remember, being a pup parent is a big responsibility, but it’s almost one of the most amazing experiences that you can have. Show your puppy a lot of love and care, and he’ll return that love times a hundred! If you’re looking for supplies to make feeding your pup easier, check out the fabulous products at Neater Pets. Our goal is always to help you and your pets have an incredible relationship.

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