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You may have heard someone mention that they free feed their puppy, others may have a strict feeding routine that mimics a military regime. 

Does it matter which you choose providing your pup is getting the food they need? 

Well yes actually, it does.  The puppy food you choose to feed your dog and how and when you feed are very important to their growth and development.

Over-feeding can cause unnecessary weight gain which is detrimental to those little growing bodies!  Not only that but the basics of free-feeding is banking on your pup having self-control – have you met a puppy recently with any self-control?  Thought not!

We’ve put together a handy guide to help you figure out the best feeding schedule for your puppy, not quite a military regime, but certainly not a free-for-all.

Understand Their Existing Feeding Routine

Chances are, when you bring pup home, the adoption agency or breeder will have explained their current feeding routine and given you a small amount of their food to continue for their first few meals.  If they don’t provide this info, inquire to try to learn more.

Whether you choose to stick with this food is your choice, but we’d advise staying with it for a few days if possible, just until pup is settled.

If you do decide to change his food, consider the 75/25 rule for four days.

On the first day Mix 75% of their old food with 25% of their new food for his daily meals. On the second day mix 50% of their old food with 50% of the new food, On the third use just 25% of his old feed and on the final day us 10%.

Slowly increasing the new puppy food and reducing his old food content until they are eating 100% of the new food is the best way to change his diet.

How Much Should You Feed?

Most puppy foods with include feeding directions on their label.

Purebreds are generally easier to predict, hybrids not so much.  You can speak with the breeder and ask their opinion on the predicted adult size- as well as your veterinarian. 

When to Feed a Puppy

The best way to split these calories is frequently throughout the day in much smaller meal sizes. 

3-4 meals per day is ample for a puppy.  This can be reduced down from 4 to 3 and then 2 meals per day after 12 months of age.

You may fit it into your routine as follows:

  • 7-7.30am – Morning Meal
  • 12-12.30pm – Lunchtime
  • 17-17.30pm – Evening Meal

The time of the last meal gives pup plenty of time to digest and chance to go potty before bed.

Be mindful not to exercise directly before or after mealtimes.  It has been thought that this can be a risk factor for developing bloat.  While the science isn’t clear on the causes of bloat, it’s better to be safe than sorry.   

Don’t Forget Treats

Another thing to think about with puppies and their food is how many treats you are giving. 

Puppyhood also consists of a lot of time spent training.  And when we are training commands, we treat them. 

When they behave how we want them to, we reward them.  If you added up how many treats you give, we bet you’d be surprised.  Treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s diet. 

For that reason, it can be helpful to either swap out some of their mealtime calories to account for the extra treats or simply use their kibble as training treats.

So What Does All This Mean?

A structured feeding routine is key in puppyhood.  You can monitor intake and notice quickly if they are off their food.  This is a symptom of a range of health issues, so a handy observation to have.  Pups love routine and having a structure can keep you on track with potty-training too!  We hope our top tips have given you a good place to start but as always, seek veterinarian advice if you are concerned about feeding your pup!

Consider Investing in Puppy Insurance 

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a puppy insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Get your free quote today.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

 1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.