There are a lot of factors to consider when feeding a puppy to ensure they grow up healthy and reach their potential: the right nutrients at the right time for all that growing; strict and regular meal patterns to develop good eating habits; and physical and mental stimulation.
What to feed your puppy
Some owners prefer to home cook dog meals, while others believe adult dog food is just as good for their puppy. In truth, both are insufficient because puppies require very specific diet plans depending on their breed and size. Dogs do most of their developing before adulthood and, so, need more nutrients to account for all that muscle and bone growth. Large breeds tend to mature at around 10-16 months, while small to medium-sized breeds mature around 8-12 months.
Thus, purpose-manufactured puppy food is designed with specific puppy ages and breeds in mind to ensure your puppy gets the right balance of nutrients at the right time of life. Adult dog food lacks many essential nutrients, meaning a puppy fed adult food will likely suffer stunted growth.
However, even if you feed your puppy food made specifically for his or her age and size, you also need to consider other food your puppy is eating. Try to avoid giving your puppy table scraps, as this not only disrupts their diet, but encourages undesirable table habits, such as begging. If you do want to give scraps as an occasional treat, wait until you have finished eating, and scrape the food into your puppy’s bowl.
Feed little and often
Tiny puppies have tiny tummies, so even though your dog may wolf down every meal, it doesn’t mean their stomach can take more. Rather than risk your puppy becoming sick from overeating, start off by feeding them 6 small meals per day. Most puppy food packaging has a recommended daily amount; if not, consult your vet. You can also buy puppy-sized bowls, as well, which are easier for your puppy to eat from and will encourage you not to serve too much in one sitting. Pet-food specialists James Wellbeloved have published a helpful guide to help you calculate how much to feed your puppy per serving based on their age and weight.
When your puppy reaches 6 months, their tummy will be bigger and it is time to start reducing the number of meals per day. Start transitioning from 6 small meals a day to 4 medium meals a day. Then a few weeks later, you can transition to 2 large meals a day, which is the recommended meal habit for an adult dog.
When your dog reaches adulthood, it is time to transition from puppy food to adult dog food. Switching from one food to another can put dogs off and disrupt their eating habits. Instead, mix in just a little adult food with their regular food. Then, over a few weeks, gradually mix in more adult food and less puppy food, until your dog is happily eating just the adult food.