Puppies have higher caloric needs than adult dogs. This is because they are growing. They also expend a lot of energy in play. This is why dog food companies make foods that are specially formulated to meet the needs of puppies – not just in terms of calories but also to provide the correct proportions of vitamins and minerals they need at this stage of their life. This still leaves the question of how much to feed a puppy.
The amount to feed a puppy will depend on several factors:
- Age – Is the puppy 2 months old or 10 months old?
- Breed or projected size of the puppy when he becomes an adult – Chihuahua puppies will eat less than Labrador Retriever puppies, for example.
- Activity level – Puppies that are more active will generally eat more.
- Individual differences – Each puppy is different. You will need to monitor your puppy’s weight and condition to see if he is gaining or losing weight and adjust his portions accordingly.
According to research, a 10 lb (4.5 kilograms) puppy that will grow to be 33 lbs (15 kilograms) as an adult needs about 990 calories per day. You can usually find the amount of calories contained in dog food listed on the dog food label or on the company web site.
You can also use the suggested feeding guidelines on the packaging as a starting point for how much to feed your puppy but you will likely have to adjust the amount. The amounts given are only suggestions and they are often overly generous. Watch your puppy’s weight and condition carefully and adjust the amount as necessary.
As your puppy grows you will also need to adjust the amount fed. A puppy’s growth usually begins to slow by 6 to 9 months for most breeds. A Toy breed or small dog can be almost full size by the time they are about six months of age. However, a large or giant breed dog will still be growing when they are a year old and for several months after that.
One way to know if your puppy is eating the right amount is by talking to your veterinarian. Vets can be a good source of information when it comes to your puppy’s weight and body condition. You can also compare your puppy’s appearance with a body condition chart such as the one here: http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/body-condition-scoring-chart
Remember that your puppy should be slim and fit. Being overweight as a puppy can put pressure on growing bones and joints. This can lead to musculoskeletal problems like hip dysplasia later in life. So, don’t overfeed your puppy. You should be able to feel his ribs but not see him. Puppies of most breeds should have a distinct tuck up behind their ribs. This is a dog’s waist. If your puppy gets tired quickly or doesn’t play much, it could be because he is overweight.