how much to feed a puppy; image by Megan/

Puppies don’t need much to be happy and carefree. Cuddles, food, and exercise will be just about all they require. Of those three needs, food is probably the most complicated factor. But it is not very difficult either, when you begin to understand the dietary needs of a fast-growing puppy.

What food to choose and how much to feed a puppy are your primary concerns. Here are some things to consider that will keep your buddy nourished and happy through these happy first months of life with you.

Ideally you should feed your pup three measured meals a day at regular times. The best times would be about 7am, Noon, and 5pm. An early dinner like this will give your buddy plenty of time to digest the evening meal and use the bathroom before bed. Pups will need to relieve themselves as soon as 20 minutes after eating, so keep this in mind when putting together your doggy’s feeding schedule. For those unable to maintain these hours because of work, an early morning meal and two evening meals, three hours apart, will also work well.

Adhere to the same feeding schedule until your pup is about 14 to 18 weeks old. At this age, your dog should be fed only twice a day.

The meals you give should be a well-balanced and healthy diet that was specially formulated for puppies. Look for quality, protein-rich foods without cheap fillers and other non-puppy-friendly additives. Make sure the food is specially formulated for puppies’ specific dietary needs and to ensure proper growth.

Puppies will need to eat plenty of food to fuel their growing bodies. Don’t worry about a healthy appetite unless your pup is getting too chunky. Obesity is possible even in very young dogs, so make sure your pup isn’t packing on too many pounds. Overfeeding can result in overly accelerated growth in some breeds. To avoid this, make sure your puppy has food formulated for his specific breed size’s nutritional requirements. Also remove any food that he has not eaten after 15-20 minutes and give him a smaller portion next time.

Sometimes it is a good idea to feed a puppy in her crate so that she can enjoy mealtime undistracted. Keeping her confined for 15 minutes after eating will keep her from eliminating waste inside the house. Dogs don’t foul up their crates so even young ones will wait to be let outside before they will use the bathroom in their crate. It is very helpful in potty training to carry puppy from crate to a specific area in the yard so that there is no chance of accident or confusion.

When your puppy is 14-18 weeks old, feeding should be reduced to two daily meals, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Two meals a day works better for older puppies of medium and large breeds. Very small breeds can get by with one feeding a day as they grow into adults. A well-fed puppy will grow up happy and strong, providing many healthy years of joy and companionship.