Updated: Sep 25
Initially feed what the breeder feeds
When your puppy first comes home it is best to try to feed them exactly the same food they were being fed with their breeder. This is a time of many changes and lots of stress for your puppy, so it is helpful not to shock their little systems any more with a sudden change in food. Ask your breeder what they are feeding before picking your puppy up so you have some time to stock up and can be ready to go when puppy arrives. Your puppy is more likely to eat something they are familiar with when they are a bit stressed out and are less likely to get an upset stomach.
Changing to a new food
Ideally, don’t change your puppy’s diet too much for the first week while they are settling in. After this, if you want to change over from the breeder’s diet onto something different, do this very gradually. Changing a dog’s diet too quickly can upset their gut flora and cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Food should be changed gradually over a week or so. On the first day, feed 90% the original food and 10% new food, then the next day feed 80% original food and 20% new food, then 75%/25%, then 50%/50%, then 75% new food with 25% old food etc etc. until you have phased out the old food completely.
So many options
There are many different options to choose from when it comes to feeding your puppy – each with their pros and cons. You will come across all sorts of advice on this topic, from your breeder, your vet, friends, fans of the breed etc. Ultimately what to feed is a personal decision and you should pick something that works well for your family, and that your dog seems to tolerate well with no gastro issues. Make sure you choose a puppy variety and not an ‘adult’ or ‘senior’ food as these are not high enough in certain nutrients for puppies. Puppies can be transitioned onto an ‘adult’ diet at around 10-12 months old.
Common options for puppies include:
Dry puppy kibble
Wet puppy food
Cooked chicken, rice & veggies
Cooked or raw beef or kangaroo mince, with rice & veggies or kibble
Pre-prepared frozen raw puppy food (BARF)
When buying commercial foods, always look on the back of the pack for the words ‘complete and balanced’ – this means this food is suitable for feeding on its own and has had all the micronutrients and vitamins your dog needs, added in the right proportions.
If you are preparing a home-cooked meal for your dog, check with your vet or a veterinary nutritionist that it is suitably balanced for long-term use and has adequate protein and calcium for a growing puppy.
Puppies are fully weaned by 8 weeks old so they no longer require puppy milk as part of their diet. Many breeders use puppy milk to help transition their puppies to drinking from a bowl rather than from mum, but once your pup is home with you, you can phase this out. You should always have water available for your puppy 24/7. As long as the puppy is eating well you can take puppy milk away and offer water only.
How much should I feed?
This is the million dollar question! Every new puppy owner asks it, and unfortunately there’s no straightforward answer. The amount in cups or grams varies widely depending on the size and breed of your dog, and on what you are feeding. If you are using a commercial wet or dry food, there will be a rough size guide on the back of the pack to follow, based on the puppy’s weight. Weigh your pup each week and increase the portions accordingly as they grow. Remember the amount on the pack is the required amount in 24 hrs, feeding just that product. You should divide the total number up into how many meals a day you are offering. If you are feeding wet and dry together or dry with extra mince and veggies, then divide the guide amount in half.
If you are making a home-cooked diet you can ask your breeder for a guide of how much to start with, and then adjust this to your dog’s needs as they grow. The vet can tell you if your pup is growing properly and if they are looking overweight or underweight.
Puppies between 8-14 weeks old should generally be fed 3-4 times daily. This can then be reduced to 2-3 times daily until they are approximately 5-6 months old. Most teenage and adult dogs do well on twice daily feeding for the rest of their life.