Congratulations on bringing home a new furry friend! While puppy ownership can be an exciting and rewarding time for a new pet parent, it can also be a challenging time, especially when dealing with meal time. After reading these five tips, you will be better prepared for the “puppy years” and be able to focus on all of the fun and joy your puppy brings.
1. Type of Food
Puppies grow quickly, especially in the first 12 months. Feeding your puppy high-quality, premium puppy formula like Bil-Jac Puppy Food, will help support healthy growth and development during this critical time. Dry dog food is an excellent choice of food to feed your puppy. Dry puppy foods come in a variety of formulas based on the size your dog will be in adulthood:
Small Breed: For Dogs under 20 lbs.
Medium Breed: For Dogs 20 to 50 lbs
Large Breed: For Dogs over 50 lbs.
Nutrition labels provide much valuable information which is important since not all formulas are the same. When choosing a puppy food for your new family member, look for a puppy formula that has real meat listed as the first ingredient, like all of the Bil-Jac Puppy Formulas do.
2. How Often & How Much
One of the initial challenges a new pet parent faces is determining how much food to feed and how often. While most puppies don’t require a lot of food, they do require frequent feedings to help support healthy energy levels while they are growing. Most puppies will go to a new home after they are weaned and are about 8-12 weeks old. Here is a suggested feeding regimen:
6 weeks to 6 months: Divide feeding into 3 times per day
6 months to 12 months: Divide feeding into two times per day
12 months and older: Feed either one or two times per day
Be sure to divide the daily amount of recommended food to feed by the number of feedings per day. So if your puppy should eat 1 cup a day, and you are feeding three times per day, you would feed 1/3 cup at each meal. Feed your puppy at about the same time each day to establish a regular schedule and build good habits.
Measuring your puppy’s food at each meal is very important to maintaining a healthy weight. Filling your new best friend’s bowl (“free feeding”) and leaving food out at all times is not recommended and could lead to overeating. Put the measured amount of food in the bowl and let your puppy eat when he or she is ready. With all the exciting things in the world, puppies may occasionally lack interest at mealtime. If they miss one meal or eat a little later, that is not necessarily a cause for concern. Missing more than one meal a day should be discussed with your veterinarian.
All puppy formulas provide feeding guidelines, but ultimately you need to adjust how much you feed based on the puppy’s weight, age, and activity level. Puppies can be very distracted by all of the wonderful things in the world at this age, so they may sometimes not be interested in food at meal time.
3. Use Treats Appropriately
Treats are a useful reward when training puppies. However, you’ll need to monitor how many treats your puppy is consuming. The treats you choose for your puppy should be healthy (meat based is ideal!) and only about 10% of your puppy’s daily nutritional intake should be treats. Consider using a smaller training treat, like Bil-Jac Little Jacs, so that you can treat often while managing calories. Feeding too many treats can lead to weight gain, which may hurt your puppy’s health and development.
4. Monitor Weight
Just like humans, puppies’ appetites vary, so it is important to monitor the weight of your puppy. While the recommendations on the dry dog label are a good starting place, you may need to feed your puppy more or less based on how active your puppy is, which determines how many calories he or she burns.
Be careful not to overfeed your puppy; start a lifelong habit for you and your best friend of maintaining a proper weight.
5. Moving to Adult Food
While puppy food is great for a puppy, it is not ideal once your puppy approaches maturity. Puppy formulas have different levels of protein and fat than adult formulas. Maturity rates vary from 10 months to 2 years depending on your dog’s breed. Small and medium breeds should transition to adult formulas around 12 months of age. Large and Giant Breeds should transition around 18-24 months of age. Your veterinarian, shelter, or breeder can advise the appropriate time to move to an adult formula.
Do you have any tips on feeding a puppy? Share your experience in the comments below!