Your growing puppy

Brown and white puppy eating from a silver bowl

Your dogs diet plays a vital role in helping to give them a healthy body and mind, so what should they eat, how much should you give them and what’s the best way to feed them?

There are many different approaches you can take to ensure your dog has a balanced, healthy diet. However, with many different feeding regimes to choose from, all of varying quality, it can be a little baffling to know which way to go.

Read some of our hints and tips in our guide to feeding your dog.

Best puppy diet: get help from the breeder

Healthy puppies can burn twice as many calories as an adult dog, so it’s important that their diet is balanced and meets their high energy needs. Your puppy’s food should be: 

  • High in calories 
  • Rich in protein  
  • Packed full of essential nutrients  
  • Easy to chew and swallow 

Your puppy’s food should be specifically formulated to their needs and must be age-appropriate. There are lots of different diets to choose from and it can sometimes be confusing trying to find the right food for your dog. If you’re overwhelmed by the choice, then always speak to your puppy’s breeder or your vet to find out what they recommend. 

Feeding your puppy - frequently asked questions

How much should I feed my puppy?

The amount of food that a dog needs depends on their age, breed, how energetic they are and if they have any medical conditions. Feeding your puppy too much may cause excessive weight gain, an upset stomach, or, particularly in larger breeds, bone deformities, so it is very important to follow the feeding guidelines given on any packaging. Also, pay attention to whether the feeding guides on the pack are for the puppy’s current body weight or their estimated adult body weight. If based on estimated adult body weight, it may be helpful to speak to the breeder to find out how big mum and dad are.

How often should I feed my puppy?

Younger puppies should always be fed small amounts regularly, and this decreases in frequency as they get older. If you’re not sure how often to feed your puppy then here is a rough guide:

  • When you start to offer solid food or when weaning (usually at around two months old) – four to six meals a day
  • From two to three months – four meals a day
  • From four to six months – two to three meals a day
  • Over six months – two meals a day (depending on the breed)
How can I check my puppy is gaining weight?

Regularly weighing your puppy can help you check that they’re growing at a healthy rate for their age, size and breed. Speak to your vet, breeder or breed club if you’re not sure how to do this, or if you need any guidance on how much your dog should weigh or look. Puppy growth charts can also be very helpful to track your puppy’s growth. Speak to your vet to see if they can supply you with one of these.

What is the difference between dry and fresh meat ingredients?

Unless your dog is on a special veterinary recommended diet, choosing between wet or dry food is entirely up to you and your dog. Neither is better than the other, they’re just different options.

When deciding, consider what your dog likes, and think about their level of enjoyment when trying different shapes and textures. It’s possible that your dog will make the decision for you!

When choosing between wet or dry food, think about where you’ll store the food and how easy it is to buy in bulk.

Wet food can:

  • increase fluid intake, as it contains more moisture
  • be more appetising to fussy eaters, as it can be warmed, releasing delicious smells
  • be easier to eat for dogs with dental or mouth problems
  • help your dog feel full more quickly

Dry food can:

  • be good for keeping teeth clean and encouraging chewing
  • be more convenient to keep and store once opened and may have a longer shelf life
  • be given in smaller quantities as a treat or for training
  • last for longer and doesn’t spoil as quickly.
How should I serve wet puppy food?

If you give your dog wet puppy food, then it’s best to serve it at room temperature. Warmer food is more appealing to dogs and will smell better, taste nicer and should be easier for them to digest. If you keep your food in the fridge, remember to take it out an hour before feeding. This will allow it to reach room temperature and be more enjoyable to eat. If you’re not able to leave the food out, then you can warm it up in the microwave, but make sure it’s served at room temperature and is never hot. 

How should I serve dry puppy food?

Most dogs love the crunchy texture of dry kibble, but others may prefer slightly moist food. If your puppy prefers moist foods, particularly when they are younger, then you can always add a small amount of water before serving it. Be careful to avoid adding milk.

Dry food can help support dental health more than wet foods. However, whether dry or wet, it can be helpful to give them regular dental treats to keep their teeth healthy. Ideally, you should also introduce them to tooth brushing at a young age. Remember that if you are giving dental treats they need to be taken into consideration when working out the puppy’s daily calories, and the feeding guide should be reduced slightly.

What are the signs that I am feeding my dog the wrong diet?

We recommend that you check:

  • For signs of an intolerance. These may include:
    • Being sick
    • An upset stomach
    • Excessive wind
    • Losing weight
    • Itchy skin that can become red and irritated
    • Regularly getting skin or ear infections
    • Licking themselves a lot
  • If they are finishing their food
  • That their poo looks healthy

If you're concerned about your dog's health or their diet, then always speak to your vet.

Getting into good feeding habits

It’s important that you get into good feeding habits while your dog is still young. When feeding your dog:

  • Choose somewhere to put their bowl that can be easily cleaned, such as on a tiled or wipeable floor
  • Give them their food in a quiet place where they won’t be interrupted or distracted
  • Avoid feeding your dog immediately before or after exercise, as it can cause a life-threatening condition known as bloat
  • You should not feed your dog before travelling in the car as this might cause car-sickness.
  • Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Some foods may upset your dog’s stomach, while others, such as chocolate, onions and grapes, can be poisonous to them
  • Cooked bones can be dangerous and can break into small parts that can cause damage in your dog’s mouth, throat or intestines, so never give them
What about treats?

Just because you’re trying to keep your dog healthy doesn’t mean that you need to stop giving them treats. However, it does mean that you should watch what you give them and how often.

  • If you do want to give treats, make sure that they are not high in fat, salt or sugar
  • When giving treats, make sure you include them in your dog’s total daily calorie intake to balance things out
  • Always ensure that any homemade snacks that you give your dog are cut up into small chunks. This can make them last longer and stop them from getting stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Try putting your dog’s snacks in a food puzzle. These toys slowly release food when they are moved around or played with and are a great form of mental stimulation
  • Some chew treats have been proven to help prevent dental diseases, but again, check the label to ensure you are getting a genuine product

Find out more about giving your dog health treats.

Next steps