One of the most common questions new puppy parents have is how much to feed their new best friend. While all dog foods are required to provide recommended feeding amounts on their packaging, these are just recommendations—and they are based on averages. Just like humans, all puppies are a little different. But a few simple guidelines can help you to ascertain whether you’re feeding your pup enough—or too much.
“Watch the dog, not the dish.”
This advice comes from our friends at the American Kennel Club (AKC), who advise that your puppy’s body condition—not the amount of food eaten or left behind—is the best determinant of how much to feed. While food consistently left behind may indicate that you’re giving your pup too large a portion, a better gauge is to keep an eye on your pup’s body as she grows.
While everybody loves a chubby puppy, he should start to “thin out” a bit as he grows. Otherwise, you could be feeding him too much and setting him up for obesity and health problems in adulthood.
Looking at your puppy from above, she should have a visible “waistline.” From the side, her belly should not hang down lower than her chest, which indicates overfeeding. You should be able to feel the puppy’s ribs but not see them. If your puppy’s ribs are visible, this could mean you are feeding her too little.
So how much and how often?
Puppies can go through a lot of food, particularly in their first six months of life. Because they are growing quickly, they require much more food—and special puppy formulations packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Still, it’s important not to overfeed.
Puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day, primarily because smaller meals are easier to digest. Once they reach about 6 months of age, it’s okay to reduce feedings to twice a day. As for the amount, follow the guidelines on the puppy food package, adjusting according to your puppy’s particular appetite and growth pattern. If you are using a super premium puppy food, like Bil-Jac, it will be packed with nutritional support and protein, requiring a smaller portion than with most grocery store brands.
Keep in mind, too, that you may want to choose a puppy food specially formulated for your small breed or large breed puppy.
Our best advice—relax and enjoy.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you should be able to just relax and enjoy your newfound friend. Don’t stress too much over feeding — just have fun! It is our hope that you and your puppy will share many happy, healthy days to come.