In this section, we’ve provided some guidelines for feeding your puppy or dog. It’s important to keep your dog on the same food the breeder or shelter was feeding him to avoid tummy upset. Keep feeding your puppy the same food for at least a few weeks – until your pup has settled into his new environment or it’s time for him to switch to adult food. You can then transition him to a different food, if you’re not happy with his existing food. Dogs, especially puppies have very sensitive tummies and will end up with diarrhea if you suddenly switch foods on him.
More than likely you should eventually switch your dog’s food. The truth of the matter is that more than likely, your puppy or dog isn’t eating a good food. Shelters or animal rescues can’t afford high quality food and rely heavily on donations. Breeders often get sponsorships from dog food companies. Financially speaking, it’s hard to buy expensive food for the number of dogs these places look after.
Feed Your Puppy Dry Kibble
Feed your puppy dry kibble – do not feed wet food! Wet dog food sticks to your dog’s teeth and will cause tooth decay. Dry kibble will help to keep your dog’s teeth clean. When your dog is older (past the puppy stage when he has his adult teeth), you can occasionally give him a little bit of wet food mixed in with his dry kibble as a treat. Most stores sell small pouches of wet food just for this purpose. Don’t do this too often, though. Wet food should only be an occasional treat.
Choose a High Quality Food
Choose a high quality puppy kibble for your pup, one that is high in protein and preferably grain free. Grains are not a natural part of the canine diet and many of them, such as wheat and especially corn and soy (the “Unholy Dog Food Trinity”) cause allergies in dogs.
How to Feed Your Pup
Use the feeding guidelines on the package of your chosen puppy food or as directed by your breeder. Keep in mind that the guidelines on the puppy food package tend to be on the generous side (remember, dog food companies are trying to sell dog food). Be prepared to adjust the amount you feed. Very active puppies will need more food than quieter, less active puppies.
For Puppies 8 to 10 weeks:
Feed your puppy three times per day, spacing the meals out evenly. Six am, 12 noon and 6 pm are roughly ideal times (you can adjust times if necessary). Take the total daily amount of food, divide by two and then feed that amount for each of the 3 meals. During this time, puppies need the extra calories to fuel their rapidly developing bodies.
For Puppies 10 weeks and over:
Feed your puppy twice per day. Take the total daily amount of food, divide by two and feed that amount for each of 2 meals, once in the morning and once in the evening.
These directions are guidelines and your breeder or vet may recommend something different for your puppy or dog.
Feeding Guidelines for Adult Dogs
If your new puppy is no longer a puppy, but an adult when you get her, the same rules apply to her as with feeding a puppy. The only exception is that you don’t need to start off with 3 meal times for her, she will be fine with 2 (ideally) or even 1 and of course, you’ll be feeding her a full-fledged adult food. Again, use the feeding guidelines on the bag to help you determine how much to feed your dog. Adjust up if you have a very active dog or adjust down for a non-active dog.
If you’re not happy with the food your dog is being fed, keep him on it until he has settled into his new environment before you change his food. Follow the guidelines for Switching Your Puppy’s Food.
Prepare Your Puppy’s Meals
While it may seem like more work, make it a routine to actually “prepare” your dog’s food. Set specific mealtimes for your puppy and stick to them, so she becomes accustomed to the routine. Choose times that will fit into your schedule and that you can easily keep. Puppies (and dogs) are happy with routine as they know what to expect.
Pour the food into the bowl, then have your pup sit and stay. When your pup is sitting calmly and politely, then you can put the food down for him to eat. You may even want to use a command such as “Okay” to let him know when he is allowed to eat his food. Pick up any uneaten food after 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t worry about your puppy being hungry if he has left food in his bowl after this time. Your pup will learn that meal times occur at specific times and will eat accordingly.
This type of routine will help establish you as the leader of the pack or the Alpha dog. The Alpha dog owns everything that belongs to the pack and food is the most valuable resource. By following a strict mealtime routine instead of free feeding, you will help your dog to focus on you and this in turn will help with behavior and training.
Do Not Free Feed
You should not free feed your dog, even if you have a breed that will pace itself with its eating. Breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, constantly eat and cannot regulate themselves. Be sure to include the amount of food you use as training treats as part of puppy’s daily allotment.
Do not revert to free feeding if you feel your dog is not eating enough at mealtimes. Your dog will quickly learn there will only be certain opportunities for him to eat and will eat enough to satisfy himself. A healthy dog will not consciously starve himself and will eat what he needs – even if you don’t feel it’s enough. Remember, you don’t want to end up with an obese dog. An extra 10 pounds on you may be fine, but an extra ten pounds on your dog is detrimental. Extra weight causes stress on the vital organs and will lead to joint problems.
Slow Down Fast Eaters
For those breeds that are food motivated, you want to make sure that your pup does not eat too quickly. If you find your pup eats too fast, you can put fist-sized stones in your dog’s food bowl. Choose stones that are too large for your dog to swallow. There are also dog food bowls available that have posts in the middle of them, which will help to slow down your dog’s rate of consumption. When your dog gulps his food, he takes in pockets of air, which can cause a condition called bloat. Bloat is a very painful and potentially deadly condition where the stomach and intestines twist on themselves.
Read on >> Choosing Your Puppy’s Food