You’ve recently adopted a puppy and are wondering what to feed her? Follow our handy puppy feeding guide to help get your puppy started off on the right track!
1/ Which food should you give my puppy?
The first question to answer is which food should you feed your puppy. We must first consider what the puppy has been eating prior to her arrival in your home. Since your puppy’s digestive system is still developing, it is prudent to not change her food too abruptly from one day to the next. Start by gradually mixing her old food with the new diet you have chosen over the next two weeks, increasing the amount of the new diet as you decrease the old.
The best diet for your puppy will likely be a kibble-based diet. Kibbles of puppy food are specially formulated to provide the proper nutrients, energy and minerals necessary for healthy growth and development. If your puppy will grow to weigh over 55 lbs (25 kg) when it reaches the age of maturity, it is important to choose a puppy diet formulated for larger breeds. Continue feeding a growth diet until your puppy has reached 90% of its adult size (usually until the age of 7-8 months for smaller breeds, or 12 months for a large breed puppy.)
2/ Feed the right amounts
It is best to offer the amount of food recommended for your puppy’s weight, as listed in the guide printed on the packaging, because each brand of food can differ in terms of ingredients and calorie content.
Since puppies grow so quickly, it is important to weigh your furry friend on a regular basis. Very active puppies may need more energy, but many don’t know how to curb their appetite. Free feeding your puppy is not a good idea.
Keep an eye on what your puppy is eating. If your puppy seems to be gaining too much weight, you may have to decrease the amount of food offered. Following the feeding guide printed on the packaging should prevent these issues. However, if your puppy has already been sterilized, ask your veterinarian if any modifications should be made to prevent weight gain.
3/ Specific meal-times
The first few weeks are critical to instill proper meal-time rituals:
- Avoid giving your puppy table food. Not only is this very bad in terms of behavioural training, but it can also lead to digestive upset and diarrhea, as well as obesity;
- Set regular meal-times, and get your pet used to eating when you do. Place her food bowl in a corner away from your dining table and ask her to sit before you put her bowl down. Ignore her while she eats;
- Meal-times should last at most 20 minutes. If she hasn’t finished eating by then, remove her bowl. This way, your puppy will learn to eat when the food is offered. You can give her any remaining food at her next meal;
- However, you may notice that your puppy takes longer to eat once she starts losing her baby teeth (between the age of 4 and 7 months). In that case, you can leave the food available for a longer period and, if necessary, add some warm water to the dry kibble to make it easier to chew.
4/ The number of meals per day
Puppies need to eat more often than adult dogs. Therefore, 4 meals per day is reasonable at first. After 3 months of age, separate your puppy’s daily ration into 3 meals throughout the day. Once your puppy is 6 months old, you can decrease to two meals per day. If however you find that your pet eats too quickly, smaller meals given more often may help her digestion. Two meals per day is ideal for an adult dog (after the age of 1 year).
5/ Fresh water
Puppies can get dehydrated very quickly, especially if they are very active. Consequently, they have to drink more and urinate more often to stay healthy. Make sure that your puppy has fresh water available at all times. A water fountain or automatic water dispenser can help fulfill this need.