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When Is The Best Time To Feed My Puppy?

When I got my very first dog, I had a really hard time deciding when to feed the little pooch. As with most first-time pooch parents, I was super worried about not feeding them enough. I would therefore shove food, water and treats down their throat whenever they looked sad or agitated because I didn’t know better.

Unfortunately, this is a problem not only with rookie dog parents but also long time owners. And yes, it is a problem. Free feeding your dog may seem okay but you may actually end up doing more harm than good. This is because it exposes them to all sorts of risks from vomiting to obesity due to overeating.

The best time to feed your puppy depends on their age. Dogs below 3 weeks survive on breastmilk and there is no need of a schedule. Weaning occurs between 3 to 6 weeks in which case a free feeding schedule is acceptable as the dog gets used to the new flavors and textures. When the puppy is around 8 weeks, you could introduce a 2-6 meals and 2-4 treats per day schedule.

Let us take a closer look at ideal feeding practices for dogs starting with the best specific feeding times for a proper meal schedule.

When Is The Best Time To Feed My Puppy?

In order to establish a good feeding routine for your puppy, one of the key factors to consider is their age. This determines a lot from their appetite to how much you can feed the puppy. During breastfeeding and weaning stages, free-feeding schedules are acceptable as the doggies are unlikely to overeat. This is because puppies have small tummies and do not do enough to warrant a high energy supply.

However, when your dog reaches 8 weeks of age you should switch to a more deliberate schedule in which case there are 3 main meal schedule options to choose from.

One of the best for the growing and more active puppy is the 3 meals per day schedule with meals at 7 am, noon, and 5 pm. You could also make it for meals spaced out as a 7am, 10am, 2pm and 5 pm meal.

The 2 meal schedule could also work if you are dealing with a generally less active puppy or one with larger portions per day. In this case, simply allow 12 hours to pass between the first and the last meal.

Whether you go for the 4 meal schedule or the 2 meals option, it is important to make sure that your puppy gets its first meal early in the day. You could time this based on how early they wake up in which case 7 to 9 am should work.

The last meal should also be in the early evening hours. This allows proper digestion and could give you a potty break chance before they go to bed. In this case, it is best to make sure you do not feed them after 5 pm if possible.

How Can I Know How Many Times A Day Should A Puppy Eat?

So how do you know which of the meal plans to adopt for your puppy? The number of times you should feed your little furry buddy depends on a lot of factors. These establish a balance to prevent overeating or undernutrition. Here are 4 of the most important of these so you know when to feed your puppy 4 times a day and when to switch to 2 or 3 meals per day schedules.

The puppy’s specific age

Younger puppies especially those below the age of 6 weeks do not tend to eat a lot. This is because they are not very active and still have low capacity stomachs. They can therefore survive on 2 or 3 meals per day if you want to stick to a schedule.

The activity level

Active puppies need a lot of energy to keep up with their active lifestyles. As your pooch gets more adventurous and playful, it may be time to switch from 2 to 3 or 4 meals per day. This ensures that the energy the burn through playing is replenished multiple times in the day to keep them going.

The type of dog food you are feeding them

With wet dog food, the puppy does not really need many meal times as it is very filling. You could therefore stick with longer meal intervals as with the 2 or 3 times a day schedule. However, if they are eating dry dog food, then you might want to feed them 4 or even 6 times a day to temper the growing appetite.

The appetite level

Speaking of appetite, it also determines how often you could feed your puppy. Those who eat more would benefit from smaller portions spread out over more meal times. However, if your puppy has low appetite levels or is simply a picky eater then fewer meal times could work.

Can You Overfeed A Puppy?

Image from Instagram:@pokie.pom

Small puppies should eat about a cup or less every day.

To a new dog owner, this may seem cruel. It is these sentiments that lead a lot of us to overfeed our beloved doggies. Yes, it is actually possible to do this and it often has major, unpleasant consequences. Here is how you can tell when you are overfeeding a puppy.

Vomiting after meals

This happens when the puppy is either eating too much or too fast. The stomach may not be able to handle the large volumes especially when they are young in which case it just sends the food back up causing vomiting.

Reduced activity after eating

Many dogs like to relax a little after a meal. However, they soon bounce back energized by the meal and ready to play. If your pup is reduced to an immobile and inactive mess after a meal then it could be because they are eating too much.

Excessive weight gain

This takes a little longer to manifest but is the clearest indication that you may be overfeeding your puppy. You can tell with some subtle clues like loss of normal body contour, less palpable ribs and many others.

Untouched water bowls

More often than not, dogs drink their water after they have enjoyed their meals. However, if they are uncomfortably stuffed then they may not pay the water bowl any attention after their meals. If you notice this happening a lot then try reducing the portions so there is space in the tummy for some water.

Changes in bowel habits

Overeating in puppies could lead to an increase in frequency of pooping per day with as many as 5 number two potty breaks per day. You may also notice that the consistency of the poop during the day changes from solid and normal early in the day to soft and even diarrhea-like later on in the evening.

Is Wet Or Dry Food Better For Puppies?

Image from Instagram:@abbeyvalerie.s

Another major dilemma dog owners have is whether to feed their dogs dry or wet food. For the most part, wet food is better for puppies for many reasons. However, dry food also has a lot to offer. Let us take a look at what both options mean for your puppy.

Wet dog food has about 60% to 80% water. The resulting soft consistency is particularly handy when feeding puppies as their teeth are not yet strong enough to handle really hard kibble. For this reason, you should start feeding your puppy wet dog food during weaning periods at around 3 to 6 weeks and onwards.

The food also happens to be richer in protein calories than dry dog food. This is very important for puppies as the protein helps to support growth. In a nutshell, here are a few other major perks you have to expect when feeding your puppy wet dog food.

  • It is easier to chew and digest.
  • It is rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
  • It tastes a lot better.
  • It has fewer chemical additives.

As the puppy grows older and develops stronger teeth and a stronger jaw, you can introduce dry dog food. It is particularly useful with older puppies as it is rich in energy needed to support their very active lifestyles. It is also useful during training as it offers a convenient and mess-free way to reward the dog.

In a nutshell, both wet and dry dog food have a lot to offer the puppy. It is therefore always a good idea to introduce a mix of the two when they are old enough after starting them off with wet food.

What Are Some Of The Best Puppy Food?

Now that you know when, how much and which between wet and dry food to feed your puppy, here is a list of some of the best brands out there. That way, you know exactly what to invest in for a healthy and happy growing doggy. Without further ado, here are the 3 best puppy dog food options on the market.

Heed Foods

This is a dry food brand celebrated for their all-organic recipes perfect for puppies at any age. They are particularly awesome for pups that are picky eaters with their freeze-dried toppers to add some flavor to the already flavorful kibble. They are also ideal for puppies with gut issues as the food contains probiotic superfoods like kelp and chicory root.

Check out Heed Foods by clicking on the image above!

Pet Plate

This is ideal for doggy parents who want to go all natural with their pooch meal plans. Pet Plate uses all natural ingredients that are kettle-cooked for flavor preservation and flash frozen to keep them nice and fresh by the time they hit your doggy’s food bowl.

Simply click the banner below to shop now!

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Ollie Pets

Finally, you could go the customized meals route for your puppy with Ollie Pets foods. They use human-grade ingredients from real meat to superfood fruits and vegetables to ensure that your puppy gets all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. The best part is that you get to choose what your puppy eats based on their specific diet needs and preferences.

Get 20% OFF your first order with Ollie by clicking here!

For more recommendations for the best puppy foods, check out our article that you could consider for your little best buddy.

Related Questions

How Many Times A Day Should A Puppy Poop? Puppies poop an average of three times a day but could go number 2 as few times as once a day and as often as 5 times a day. This depends on many factors including their age and specific breed. It is also determined by what, how much and how often they eat with those that eat more tending to poop a lot more in the day. 

Is It Cruel To Feed A Dog Once A Day? It is never a good idea to feed your dog once a day. With one meal a day schedules, there is always the risk that your dog will not get as many daily calories as they need. And even if they do, they risk overeating in one go which could lead to issues like indigestion and vomiting. 

When Should I Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Food? Dogs start to make their transition into physical maturity at 9 to 12 months for small and medium dogs and 12 to 24 months for larger breeds. This is the best time to make that switch from puppy to adult food. As with weaning, this should be a slow process, instead of a cold turkey switch from one to the other. Give your dog time to adjust to new flavors and kibble sizes while also giving their bodies the opportunity to adapt to the new caloric levels.

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