Feeding your puppy

Your puppy seems small now, but they have a lot of growing up to do in a short space of time! In just 12 months (up to 24 months for larger breeds) they'll become fully-fledged adults.

Golden retriever puppy with chew toy in mouth

In the meantime their bodies and brains have to develop incredibly quickly, and plenty of high quality puppy food helps them to get there. They definitely need it, as a healthy, energetic puppy can burn through up to twice as many calories as an adult dog!

  • Weaning
  • Introducing puppy/solid food
Puppies suckling mother

Mum’s milk makes the ideal first food for a puppy as it's naturally rich in all the required nutrients that they need to grow up big and strong. Although puppies get ready for weaning between six and eight weeks old, most will start to take an interest in solid foods at three to four weeks - usually by romping through mum’s bowl and licking the food from their paws!

This is the best time to start offering them a puppy food formula. If you choose a dry food, add some water and mash it into a thin porridge-like consistency. As your puppy gets older you can add less water and make the food progressively drier. Don't be tempted to wean them too early, as switching exclusively to solids too soon can put stress on your puppy’s immature digestion.

Puppies are eager to learn about the world around them, and they need lots of energy to explore it. When it comes to what to feed a puppy, manufactured puppy food is designed to provide a completely balanced combination of the nutrients your puppy requires. Puppy foods contain higher calories with no extra bulk, so they get the energy they need to develop both their bodies and brains, without overwhelming their tiny tummies.

High-quality puppy formulas contain lots of easily digestible protein to support healthy tissue and organ development, and higher levels of essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as vitamin D to help build strong bones and teeth. So, unless your vet advises you otherwise, there’s no need to give your puppy any supplements if you’re feeding them a complete puppy food. There are a range of Purina products that you can try.

Puppies also have smaller mouths than adult dogs, so the smaller, bite-sized kibbles in most puppy foods make it easier for them to chew and release all the essential nutrients. Puppies naturally enjoy crunching these kibbles, as it helps to keep their teeth strong, clean and healthy.

Once you’ve found a puppy food both you and your pet are happy with, it’s a good idea to stick to it. Puppies can get tummy upsets if their diet is changed, so unless there is an obvious problem with their current diet, or you’re advised to change it by your vet, it's best to keep to the same brand of food. If you need to change your puppy’s food, see our section on “changing from one food to another” below for advice on how to make an easy transition.

Bowl of Bakers dog / puppy  food

How much to feed your puppy

Puppy Feeding Guide icon

Very often, a puppy will have eyes bigger than their belly! To get the balance right between what they need and overfeeding, give them small amounts on a frequent basis. This depends on their age, size and any advice given to you by your vet. Try starting with a tablespoon of food about five times a day while your puppy is still feeding from mum, and use the following guideline as a rule of thumb:

  • From starting to offer food to weaning (usually two months) - 4-6 meals a day.
  • From two to three months - 4 meals a day.
  • From four to six months - 2-3 meals a day.
  • Over six months - 2 meals a day (depending on breed).

Don't be tempted to overfeed your puppy as too much could either upset their tummy or put pressure on their frame if they gain too much weight in a short period of time. Neither of these are good for your puppy’s health, so take care when planning their meals.

Always read the feeding instructions on their food packaging carefully – they should give you a good starting point. The exact amount that you should feed your puppy can vary depending on their age, breed, any medical conditions and how energetic they are – more playful puppies will burn more energy, so need more food for fuel! Use our body condition tool to measure your puppy and make sure that they’re growing properly and aren’t under or over weight.

Weighing your puppy regularly will help you to make sure that they’re the right weight for their age, size and breed. You can do this at home, or if you’re unsure how, ask your vet to show you or do it for you during a check-up.

 

 

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