Oh, the excitement of a new puppy! Having one in your home brings everyone so much happiness…and lots of work to do. Just like human babies, caring for one is not exactly a walk in the park. From working on basic training to cleaning up after them, these tasks for the new fur parent do not spark joy at all!

One of the challenges you have to conquer is feeding your pup. At about four to six weeks, your little one is ready for solid food. But it’s not as simple as doling out kibbles as you would with an adult dog. Puppies grow up pretty fast and with it comes questions about feeding schedules and how much you should be feeding your dog during each meal.

Whether you’re a new puppy parent or simply looking for a refresher course on feeding guidelines, we’ve got you covered. In this article, let’s take a look at how you can establish good nutrition for your little one.

Age 4 to 12 Weeks

One of the most important points you have to remember during this time is to make sure that your pup is getting the nutrients he needs to grow healthy and strong. Puppies actually need more nutrients due to their rapid growth and organ development.

Ideally, he should be nursing from the mother for the first 8 weeks. Unfortunately, there are circumstances such as the mom developing bacterial infection that make it impossible for him to do so. In this case, milk replacements such as commercial milk formula can be used.

Transitioning from milk to solid food can start as early as 4 weeks. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Ask your veterinarian for high-quality dry puppy food recommendations.
  • Make a semi-liquid formula by mixing milk replacer and puppy food.
  • Feed your puppy with the gruel three to four times a day.
  • After 7 days, you can add the canned puppy food although this is optional.
  • Reduce the amount of milk replacer gradually so as not to shock your puppy’s sensitive tummy.

Age 3 to 6 Months

At 3 months, your puppy will start to show excitement every time he sees food. He’ll probably be getting anxious and jumping all over you. While it’s really cute to see them excited for meal times, it’s still important to teach them to wait until food is served. Not only that, you’ll start to see visible signs of chewing on anything that piques his interest. Aside from puppy food, you also need to consider chew toys, treats, and toys that can help alleviate his teething woes.

During this period, puppies should still be eating puppy food. Depriving them of such during this crucial stage might lead to them being undernourished. Most fur parents get their pups around 3 months old when they’re weaned off milk and able to eat solid food.

Some important reminders when feeding your 3 to 6-month old puppy:

  • Always have water nearby. Make sure to refill with clean water daily.
  • You have a choice of feeding dry kibble, wet food, or a mix of both. You can also choose to cook fresh food for your pup, but make sure to check with your vet first.
  • Pay attention to your dog’s breed. If they’re prone to being obese, you can use the portion control feeding method to ensure optimum health.
  • Avoid giving table scraps. Not all human food is safe for our dogs. Garlic and onion, for instance, are toxic to them and these are spices we often include in our meals.
  • Treats can also sabotage his ideal weight goals. A good way to control his treats portion and maintain a healthy weight is to have a pre-counted treat bag.

Age 6 to 12 Months

Your pup’s almost ready to transition to adult dog food! Depending on the breed and size, your dog will mature into an adult and you would need to make changes to his diet. Smaller dogs are known to mature more rapidly than large breed dogs. Small breeds are no longer puppies around 9 months, while large breeds mature into adults at around 15 months. That’s why the nutritional needs of large and small breeds differ greatly.

Is feeding your puppy as complicated as it sounds? Not really. Although there’s a chart to follow, it’s advised not to completely rely on that chart alone. Assess your dog’s condition score to determine the meal portions. If you’re getting a little confused about switching from puppy food to adult food, it’s best to consult your vet so he or she can give you advice on food that’s best for his condition and breed.

Wondering why it’s important to feed him the proper food and portions? Here are some facts about puppy food, adult food and transitioning:

  • To keep up with puppies’ rapid growth, puppy food are formulated to be higher in calories and fats. Adult dogs should not be eating these anymore as it can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  • Adult food have less calcium to prevent abnormal bone growth. Puppy food have significantly higher protein content.
  • Switching from puppy food to adult food should be done gradually over two weeks. Don’t make shortcuts to the process as these often lead to upset stomachs.
  • Some dog food are labelled as “all life stages”. If you’re feeding a large puppy, the packaging should indicate that it’s also recommended for growing large breed dogs.
  • As your puppy grows, you should be feeding him once or twice a day as opposed to three or four meals per day when he was just 4 to 12 weeks old.

The Bottom Line

Dog food are created with your furkid’s nutritional needs in mind. Sure, it takes times, effort and money to give the right food to your pup. But the results will surely surpass any difficulty you had initially in feeding your dog. Controlling your dog’s meal portions means that he’s at a lower risk of developing health problems associated with being overweight or obesity.

What’s it like feeding your puppy? Do you have any puppy feeding advice that you can share with us and our readers? We’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!