Have a new puppy? Congratulations! Puppies bring joy and laughter to a home, but also added responsibility. New owners often have many questions, especially about feeding puppies. You may be wondering: What should I feed my puppy? How often should I feed my puppy? It’s important to understand that puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. Their bodies and brains grow rapidly during the first year, so feeding puppies proper nutrition is essential.
What to Feed a Puppy
The best diet for feeding a puppy is one that is 100% complete and balanced and specially formulated to meet the needs of a growing puppy. Puppies can benefit from formulas that include:
High-quality protein and high calorie content
DHA, which helps support vision and healthy brain development
Calcium and phosphorus, which help support growing bones and joints
If you have a large breed puppy, he or she might do best on a formula tailored to meet the specific needs of a large breed puppy, such as Purina ONE® SmartBlend® Large Breed Puppy Formula. This is because large breed puppies grow very rapidly, so proper nutrition is essential to help balance growth rate and skeletal development.
If you change your puppy’s food when you bring him home, you’ll need to slowly transition him to the new food over a period of 7–10 days. This will help minimize digestive upset, and prevent messes from puppies that are not yet house-trained. It is important to consult with your veterinarian regularly to ensure that your puppy is healthy.
How Often to Feed a Puppy
After deciding what to feed to feed a puppy, most owners usually ask, how often should you feed a puppy? The answer actually varies by age.
If you’re wondering what to feed puppies, you can begin offering your puppy a complete and balanced puppy formula around 3–4 weeks of age. At this early stage, you can leave the food out all day to allow the puppy to eat at will. Some puppies this young, especially small breeds, may have difficulty chewing hard kibble. You can moisten the kibble with one part warm water to four parts kibble to make it softer. However, if you moisten the kibble, be sure to change it out frequently to keep it fresh.
When your puppy is fully weaned, usually around 6–8 weeks, begin to establish a regular puppy feeding schedule. Three small meals a day — breakfast, lunch and dinner — work well for most puppies. As your puppy ages — which happens in the blink of an eye — you can drop the lunchtime feeding and only feed him in the morning and at night.
Enjoy this special time with your new puppy!