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What should I feed my puppy?

Puppies have very different nutritional needs from adult dogs. During its first year of life your puppy should grow to its full size. As well as going through huge developmental changes, they’re also brimming with energy, so a diet providing the right amount of essential nutrition is really important to help your puppy grow and thrive. Read on to find out what to feed your puppy from weaning through to adulthood.

Starting solidsPuppy Suckling: what should I feed my puppy?

A new-born puppy will live on its mum’s milk only for the first few weeks of its life. Between 3 and 7 weeks, puppies will be ready to be weaned onto solid food. They will usually still be with their mother at this time, so most new puppy owners won’t need to worry about what to feed them at the weaning stage. Puppies should start with dry food mixed with milk and water, before gradually moving on to a more solid texture.

Food for your new pet

Once you’ve brought your new friend home, you’re in charge of keeping your tiny new family member fed and nourished. One of your first questions is likely to be, “but what should I feed my puppy?”

Wanting what’s best for them, you may be keen to give them home-cooked food. But in fact, the best thing for puppies at this age is a ready prepared commercial puppy food. This way, you’ll be able to ensure that they get exactly the right mix of nutrients for a perfectly balanced diet.

There are lots of different types of food available, and it’s possible to buy specially formulated foods for large or small breeds, or for specific breeds like dachshunds. However, general puppy food (wet or dry), will also be perfectly fine for your pup, whatever its breed. You may want to try a few different brands until you find the one they like best.

How much?

Up to the age of 12 weeks, puppies will eat four meals a day. This then reduces down to three meals a day until your puppy is six months old. From then on, they’ll eat twice a day. It’s good to keep mealtimes at a regular time each day, so that your pup can get used to a firm daily routine.

Portion size isn’t always easy to gauge, so check the instructions on the food packaging to find out what portions you should feed to your puppy. As long as you stick to these guidelines and keep an eye on your puppy’s growth, you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Puppy eating a treat: what should I feed my puppy?What about treats?

Many pet owners like to offer titbits as a treat. It’s lovely to watch your puppy wolf down a treat, and they can be very useful as a reward when training. However, do keep an eye on how many treats they are given, and feed them a smaller main meal if they’ve had a treat-heavy day.

Harmful foods for puppies

While your puppy may seem to want to gobble up anything that comes its way, it’s important to take care not to let puppies near any foods or plants that are toxic to dogs. Many substances that are harmless to humans, such as chocolate and sultanas, can be extremely harmful and even fatal if ingested by a dog. The PDSA has a full list of poisons and hazards to avoid.

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