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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

How Many Times a Day Should a Puppy Eat?

By Bridget Reed


Most puppies are excited bundles of energy, and you probably love watching them run through the house or play tug-of-war before collapsing in a puppy pile.

As you can probably imagine, being a puppy takes up a lot of energy. This means that your puppy will need a lot of nutritious pet food to keep them healthy as they grow into adulthood. You're not alone if you’re wondering how much to feed a puppy.

Puppies need even more calories than adult dogs to sustain their development and keep them active. Specifically, they need a lot of protein, calcium, phosphorous, and fat to account for their energy levels. These ingredients help your pup develop strong bones and muscles.

Once you’ve picked the right food for your puppy, it’s time to start thinking about how often you should feed them. We have the answers if you’re curious about the amount of food your puppy needs. Read on to find out how frequently you should fill up their dog bowl.

How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?

A puppy’s nutritional needs depend on their size and age. Remember, all puppies need plenty of water and exercise. Between their naps, walks, and adventures, they should be ready to gobble up a bowl of food whenever they get the chance.

Remember that your puppy may have unusually high or low dietary needs, and you should consult your vet if your dog seems to be overeating or undereating. With that said, here are some guidelines on how much food your puppy needs.

Six Weeks to Twelve Weeks

Your little pup will be small, round, and uncoordinated at this stage. They might wobble around the house or stick to a familiar corner. Either way, they’ll undoubtedly be adorable.

Your very young puppy should get around four servings of puppy food daily. Until they reach twelve weeks of age (or three months of age), these frequent meal times will meet their nutritional needs and help them grow strong and healthy.

We recommend feeding your puppy once in the morning after you wake up and once in the evening before you go to bed. Add one meal before lunch and one in the afternoon, so your puppy will have enough calories to keep playing, exploring, and growing.

Three Months to Six Months

As your puppy reaches the third month of their life, they’ll slowly start to lose their puppy fat and potbelly. They might resemble gangly, miniature versions of the adult dogs they’ll eventually become.

As they get leaner and more active, you can transition them from four to three meals per day. We recommend combining their two midday meals and feeding them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Six Months to a Year

Your puppy is now an adolescent and probably has a well-developed sense of mischief. After half a year, you can gradually switch them from three to two meals every day, feeding them once in the morning and once in the evening.

Your puppy’s nutritional needs will decrease after neutering or spaying, so this might be a good time to switch from puppy food to adult food. When in doubt, keep the puppy food in their diet until you’re sure they’re finished growing. 

Most large breed puppies continue to grow well past a year. Small breeds tend to finish out their growth in the first year of life. Ask your vet if you have any questions about when to swap to a new food.

One Year Plus

Eventually, you’ll have a beautiful adult dog by your side. At this point, your dog will be nearly or fully grown. Some large breeds might take a little longer to reach their adult size, so check with your vet to find out if your dog still has some growing to do.

We recommend feeding your adult dog twice daily with nutritious adult maintenance food. This should keep them energetic and happy without leading to weight gain or potential nutrient deficiencies.

How Can I Create a Feeding Schedule for My Puppy?

When you first meet your puppy, you might spend time playing with them, showing them their new home, and watching them sniff everything in sight. After all, bringing a new baby animal home is always exciting, and your puppy will occupy a lot of your attention.

Eventually, though, you and your puppy will adapt to the rhythms of everyday life. Teaching them healthy eating habits and acclimating them to your household will take time and energy, but developing a routine feeding schedule is important. This means that you’ll feed your puppy at the same time every day, using the same type of food, and keeping their bowl in the same location.

The next part of your feeding schedule is allowing your dog to use the bathroom after eating. We recommend giving your puppy a walk shortly after each meal, allowing them to burn off any excess energy and go potty right away.

Finally, we recommend feeding your puppy their dinner several hours before bedtime so they’ll have enough time to eliminate waste, get some exercise, and digest their food before they fall asleep.

Establishing a feeding schedule will help your puppy get used to their new home, as they learn to expect food at regular intervals. It will also help them fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning without issues.

You might find a feeding schedule convenient for adapting your life around your new puppy. You won’t have to think about when to give them food or how to make sure they get enough exercise since feeding and walking them will quickly become another part of your daily routine.

How Much Food Does My Puppy Need?

Now that you’ve established when and how often to feed your puppy, you might be wondering how much you should give them with each serving.

The first place you should look is your puppy’s food package. Whether it’s a bag, can, or pouch, it should have some feeding guidelines for how much food your puppy needs. 

Typically, it is organized by the puppy’s age, weight, and breed, so you can find the portion size that best suits your pup. Some puppy foods will also have a puppy feeding chart right on the food label. 

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Every dog has slightly different nutritional needs, and your puppy might be unusually active or sedentary compared to other puppies. You should always monitor their weight and keep an eye on whether they show signs of obesity or look unusually skinny. 

If your puppy seems to be at an unhealthy weight for their age, we recommend consulting your vet. They’ll be able to help you choose the right amount of food for your pup and adapt to your puppy’s specific growth and lifestyle as necessary.

What Kind of Food Does My Puppy Need?

Very young puppies need their mother’s milk to grow into healthy dogs. They’ll switch to specially-designed puppy food as they get a little older. 

It’s important to feed your puppy only puppy food, as they need the extra nutrients and calories to support their development. Adult dog food often isn’t nutritious enough for a young, growing puppy.

However, you’ll soon find yourself faced with an important choice: wet or dry food? There are pros and cons to each food type. Let’s dig into each.

Dry Food

Dry food is by far the most common type of dog food. Usually made of kibble, these small chunks of food are easy to digest and kept at room temperature for long periods.

Many dog parents find kibble incredibly convenient. It’s typically less expensive per serving, easy to pour and clean up, and unlikely to smell bad or attract pests. Keep the kibble in the original bag, however, as food-safe containers can absorb oils and go rancid. 

If you’d like to try dry food for your puppy, our Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe for Puppies is an excellent option, offering high-quality ingredients that support bone, muscle, and brain development. 

We avoid unhealthy additives and fillers such as corn and wheat, so your puppy gets only the protein, fiber, and other nutrients they need to grow into a healthy adult dog.

Wet Food

Wet food might have less variety than most dry foods, but it’s a good choice for dog parents with a little more time on their hands. Wet food usually comes in pouches or cans, depending on the brand.

Wet dog food is typically very nutritious and tasty, so picky dogs will love the rich smell and texture. In some cases, it may also be easier to digest than kibble since it more closely mimics the natural diet most dogs eat in the wild.

When Should I Switch From Puppy Food to Adult Dog Food?

At some point, every little puppy has to grow up. You might feel a sense of nostalgia for the fuzzy little bundle of joy they once were, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be proud of your beautiful young adult dog.

Your puppy will need to switch to adult dog food as they grow. Not every breed of dog grows at the same rate — the change will depend on your dog and their individual development.

As a rule of thumb, most dogs are considered adults when they reach 90 percent of their expected adult weight. Depending on your dog, this could take less than seven months or more than a year.

If you’re unsure whether your puppy still has some growing, we recommend asking your vet. They’ll be able to compare your dog to others of the same breed and determine whether they’re ready for adult food.

You might also consider switching to a nutritious adult food after your dog has been neutered or spayed because their nutritional requirements will decrease around this time. If you keep feeding them calorie-dense puppy food, there’s a chance they might become overweight.

Picking an adult dog food can be tricky, but we’re here to help. Our dog food collection contains plenty of tasty and healthy recipes designed to offer your dog incredible immune support with added antioxidants and vitamins. 

Our food is free of poultry by-product meals, which can negatively impact your pup, and our recipes are highly digestible.

If you’re looking for Optimeal® dog food near you, our store locator makes it easy to pick up a bag or two from the nearest store. Your pup will thank you the next time they chow down on a delicious, balanced meal.

Feeding My Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is one of the most exciting times in your life, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. Now you know what kind of food your puppy needs to be healthy and how often you should feed them as they grow.

Raising a puppy can undoubtedly be challenging, but it’s a rewarding journey with plenty of heartwarming moments along the way. You’ll learn much about your puppy and yourself as you watch them develop into a wonderful adult dog.


Puppy Feeding Fundamentals | American Kennel Club

Creating a Puppy Feeding Schedule | PetMD

Feeding Your Adult Dog FAQ | Fetch

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