Getting a new puppy is a momentous occasion. They are cute, adorable, and constantly full of energy. Whether you adopted them or bred them, you need to make sure that they are eating properly right from the start.
There are consequences to how you feed your dog, just as there are to how you would feed your child. You want to create the proper feeding habits for your pup so that they grow up to be the best that they can.
Creating a Feeding Schedule
You need to create a 6-week old puppy feeding schedule to ensure proper nutrition. There are two areas of importance when it comes to creating a diet for your pup. There is the period of birth to six weeks and then the period from six weeks to four months. The simple fact is that, for a newborn puppy, mother’s milk is the best.
Another thing worth noting is that the mother should be on puppy food to ease the transition to come. If there is no milk around, there are substitutes but you should talk to your vet first. Feeding a newborn should be done every two hours or so.
This is the most comprehensive aspect of feedings. They are very much like newborn humans in that they need to constantly be fed. If you have any questions, make sure to consult your vet to find out what the best option may be. Mother’s milk may be difficult to come by if you aren’t a breeder, though there are suitable substitutes to be had.
Six Weeks to Four Months
When they hit the six-week mark, it is time to make the transition. They will be weaned and eating puppy food by this point. When they hit the six-week mark, the feeding schedule can depend on the breed. That means they will be eating anywhere from two to four times per day.
For smaller breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers, they should be fed more during those first few weeks. Just make sure that you only put food out at certain times to set meal times that they can get used to.
It is also during this time period that you can get the puppy on a potty training schedule. They will generally start to feel something 20-30 minutes after they eat, which gives you the opportunity to get them outside.
Another thing to do is check out the packaging of the puppy food. On the package, they should list the total amount that your dog will need to eat per day. From there, you need to divide that total by the number of feedings per day. So, if you are supposed to give your dog a cup of food per day, they would get half of a cup at each feeding (for two feedings).
Four to Twelve Months
Now that they are established in their diets, it is time to make subtle changes that will stick with them throughout the rest of their first year. Depending on the breed, feedings can go from three to two while increasing the portions.
Most puppies should be losing their potbellies by around the six-month mark. If they are still a little pudgy, it might be time to scale down their feeding sizes until they have begun to mature into their body.
At the six- to twelve-month mark, feedings should be down to two per day for most breeds. A side effect of the neutering or spaying process helps to lower energy requirements, which means that there can be a switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to something more of an adult maintenance food.
Some smaller breeds will make that switch at around the seven- to nine-month mark, though bigger breeds can take as long as 14 months to make that transition. By the time most breeds reach one year old, they should be down to a pair of half-portions per day unless they are on a special vet-prescribed diet.
When feeding your dog, make sure to watch the dog and not the dish. Portion sizes can sometimes depend on the body type and individual metabolism of the dog. Nutrient requirements also vary based on the needs of your dog and yours alone. They may sometimes pick at their food or skip a meal which is normal.
After Twelve Months
When your puppy hits the twelve-month mark, they are basically on the diet they’ll follow for life. Things can change here and there, but that depends on your dog and its particular circumstance. If you notice changes in their appetite or if they stop taking to their diet, talk to your vet.
Having a consistent diet can allow you peace of mind in knowing that your puppy (now fully-grown dog) is on the nutritional path that they need to be on for the rest of their days.
Puppies, like human babies, need to be on the proper diet when they are born. When they have the right feeding schedule, they will be put on the best possible path for optimal growth.
Their feeding will change at about the six-week mark, giving them the diet they will become used to going forward and into their adulthood. It is important to not overfeed or underfeed them, but that will come with time and consistency.