Dogs require nutrition that meets their age, size and activity needs. Young puppies require more calories per pound, since they are growing at an exponential rate during their first year. As such, how often you feed your puppy is just as important as the quality of food that you provide.
Newborn to Eight Weeks
From the time they are born until they are completely weaned at six or eight weeks, puppies need to eat about every two hours. Puppies at this age need nutrition that is rich in calcium and protein, which they get from their mother's milk until solid food is introduced between four and six weeks. Puppies' bodies are developing and their digestive systems process food quickly, which is why they need frequent meals.
Eight Weeks to Six Months
At eight weeks, puppies are totally weaned and able to leave their mother and littermates. When you bring your new puppy home, he will still need good nutrition from a dog food specifically formulated for puppies.Your puppy should eat three times a day. Generally, you can let your puppy eat his fill at each meal, since he is still growing and developing, and his caloric needs are still very high.
Six Months and Beyond
At six months, puppies' nutritional needs start to level out. They can be fed a quality dog food twice a day, so long as their weight is at a good level for their age. Once they reach a year old, small and medium breed dogs are done with most of their growing, and they can be transitioned to a adult food formula. Giant breeds may need a puppy formula for up to two years, since their muscles and joints are still developing.
In the first few weeks with your puppy, keep his diet very much the same as what he was eating previously with the breeder or shelter. If you need to change his food, do so slowly, by changing about 25 percent of his food at a time. Consult your veterinarian often to be sure your puppy is getting adequate nutrition as he grows.
- Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images