Dog Friends

How Much Should I Feed My Puppy? A Complete Puppy Feeding Guide

The decisions you make about your puppy’s nutrition will affect his growth, development and even his behavior.

Feeding your puppy a high-quality puppy food helps set him up for a long and healthy life as an adult dog. This raises a lot of questions for first-time (and even veteran) puppy owners, though. How much should you feed your puppy and when? When should you stop feeding puppy food?

Get answers to these questions and more in our complete puppy feeding guide below. Our experts answer your questions and offer advice to help set you and your puppy up for success.

What to Feed a Puppy

When it comes to feeding puppies, there are a lot of factors to consider. Overall nutrition, breed size and the type of food all play a role. Here’s what you need to know:

Puppies need puppy food. Feeding puppies a complete and balanced puppy food ensures they get the proper nutrition to develop and grow into healthy adult dogs.

Puppy foods are formulated with a balance of nutrients to help puppies grow up healthy and happy. Look for protein-rich formulas to support their growing muscles. Carbohydrates supply the energy active and playful puppies need, while calcium supports developing teeth and bones and DHA helps support healthy brain and vision development.

Feeding Puppies Large & Small

Not only do puppies need puppy food, but certain breed sizes can benefit from size-specific formulas.

If you have a large breed puppy, he may benefit from a large breed-specific puppy formula. Small breeds can also benefit from small breed-specific puppy formulas. Regardless of breed size, the food should be complete and balanced for growing puppies.

The difference in formulas comes down to the unique needs of large and small breeds. Large dogs have a higher risk of joint problems, so a large breed puppy food may include additional nutrients to support their growing joints.

Small breeds may prefer smaller kibble so they can more easily chew their food, which helps ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

According to Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey, “Small breeds have a higher metabolic rate than larger breeds. This means they need more nutrient-dense, higher-energy food, and the same is true for small breed puppies. That’s why it’s important to feed specific small breed puppy and adult formulas.”

Dry vs. Wet Puppy Food

Although dry kibble is a popular choice, it’s not the only option. As you walk the dog food aisles, you may see both dry and wet puppy food.

This can make it harder to decide what to feed your puppy. Fortunately, as long as both the wet and dry formulas are complete and balanced for growing puppies, you can feed either one to your pup with confidence.

You and your puppy may have a preference when it comes to dry vs. wet. Feeding a combination of the two is also an option.

If you choose to feed a combination of the two, ensure the combined amounts don’t exceed your puppy’s daily recommended caloric intake. Your veterinarian and the chart below can help you navigate how much to feed your puppy.

“When feeding a combination of dry and wet food, you need to determine the daily dry amount and the amount of calories this provides first,” says Dempsey. “In general, one three-ounce can of wet food has ninety calories and equals approximately a quarter cup of dry food. So, you should substitute a three-ounce can of wet food for a quarter cup of the daily dry food amount.

“You can find specific information on Purina dry and wet puppy foods on the package or can or on the brand websites. Your veterinarian can also help you develop a plan for feeding your puppy,” Dempsey continues. “Remember, don’t overfeed your puppy and make sure he maintains an ideal body condition as he grows.”

How Much to Feed a Puppy

Now you know what to feed your puppy, but just how much food does he need each day? Because puppies grow at such fast rates, they need to start eating a complete and balanced puppy food as soon as they’re weaned, usually between six and eight weeks.

The amount of food your puppy needs depends on how much he’ll weigh at maturity. A Labrador Retriever will weigh more at maturity than a Russell Terrier, for example. So the larger dog requires more food as a puppy.

The chart below can help you determine how much dry food to feed your puppy. You should also review the specific feeding instructions on the back of his puppy food and consult with your veterinarian.

When to Feed a Puppy

Once you know the daily feeding amount, you need to create a puppy feeding schedule. Take the total amount of food your puppy needs each day and divide that into a series of smaller feedings. Give those smaller amounts to him at regular intervals each day.

An easy puppy feeding schedule to follow is to feed him when you eat—at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Remember to feed him early in the evenings so he has time to digest his food before bedtime. This can help prevent accidents inside. Consistency is key. Feeding puppies at consistent times each day helps them get used to the routine.

When to Stop Feeding Puppy Food

Eventually, you’ll need to stop feeding puppy food and switch him to a complete and balanced adult dog food.

This transition is dictated by breed size, just as the amount to feed a puppy depends on his breed. Larger breeds may take longer to reach full maturity, so he may need puppy food for up to two years.

In general, however, expect to make the transition to adult dog food between one and two years of age.

Talk with your veterinarian to determine the right time to make the switch and for tips on making the change easy on your pup.

What about Puppy Treats?

How can you resist rewarding your puppy with some tasty treats? In fact, treats make an effective training tool.

It’s important to keep the 90/10 rule in mind, whether you’re rewarding your puppy for good behavior or just want him to feel loved. According to Dempsey, 90 percent of his daily calories should come from his complete and balanced puppy food. The other 10 percent can come from treats.

Following the 90/10 rule can help prevent weight gain and other health problems in adulthood.

Those puppy eyes are hard to resist, but remember, you’re building—and training—a dog. Don’t give in to feeding him human food when he begs. Not only are some human foods toxic to dogs, but you’re rewarding undesirable behaviors, which will be harder to break later on.

By referencing the puppy feeding chart above and following the 90/10 rule, you can set your pup up for a long, healthy and happy life with you. Explore all our puppy food options to find a tasty formula he’ll love.