Puppy food portions | new puppy at home
How much and how often should I feed my puppy?
Some dog owners believe it's a good idea to let their dogs decide when and how much they want to eat. While some dogs can do so, we strongly advise against that. Dogs with an infinite amount of food available in most cases end up being obese. Also, leaving food available at any time makes it less valuable, thus not possible to use it for dog training purposes. This way owners lose an opportunity to praise their dogs, as food doesn't work as a reinforcer anymore.
Another problem with leaving food available is that it tends to dry out quickly. A dog with a more sensitive digestive system might suffer from eating food that has been left at room temperature for a while. Also, it's more complicated to find out when and how much the dog eats. This information is valuable in teaching a dog to defecate outside and simply to know your dog's caloric intake.
Young puppies should eat 3-5 times a day, while adult dogs should get their food 2 times per day in most cases. If your dog doesn't have any health condition, it's not advisable to feed her more often.
Young puppies need to eat more often as not so long ago they were being fed by their mother several times during the day. Just like human babies, puppies grow quickly, and they need a high energy intake. Adult dogs don't need that much energy as they don't grow as much (or at all). In addition to that, their metabolism is not as fast.
Usually, we feed 3-month-old puppies 5 times a day, 4-month-old puppies 4 times a day, 5-month-old puppies 3 times a day, and switch to feeding 2 times a day when they are around 9 months old. However, always adjust feeding to your dog's needs. Some dogs always look hungry! That's completely normal. The best way to know if your dog is getting enough food at appropriate intervals is by looking at her defecation routine. If her stool looks fine and she has no problem defecating, then her feeding schedule most probably is fine.
Also, it is worth mentioning that dogs that get natural food (raw meat) usually urinate less and they should be fed in longer intervals than the ones which eat kibble. Meat takes more time to digest, so for some dogs, only 1 serving per day is enough. As we have mentioned earlier, before feeding your dog raw meat, consult your vet.
We suggest using food as a reinforcer (we'll speak about it in the next topic). However, some owners prefer feeding their dogs on a strict schedule, mostly according to their timetables. In this case, give your dog food in the morning, if possible, in the afternoon, and the evening. Additional snacks between meals are also ok.
If you can, don't stick to a strict schedule. If your dog knows that she gets her food at 8 AM, later at 1 PM, and 7 PM, she will be waiting for food to come at that time exactly. It might lead to acid reflux, especially if you end up going back home late. Also, it might cause problems in the mornings, especially when owners tend to sleep a little bit more during the weekends.
To avoid this problem, we recommend feeding your dog in the one-hour interval. For example, if you want to feed her around 8 AM, she can get her food anytime from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM. This way she'll avoid possible acid reflux.