Firstly, we agree that when it comes to feeding your puppy, it seems like there’s not much to it. But as you may have already realised, it’s actually not so straightforward to work out what and exactly how much to feed them. And yes, we know all about the cups, grams, ounces…Can’t believe how the world has still not agreed on using the same metric system.
We know your struggle, and want to help.
To make life easier for you, we’ve created a personalised puppy food calculator in our Zigzag Puppy Training app, that does all the work for you! Download it today and give it a go!
Below is a general guide for puppies with average activity levels. You’ll need to adjust the calorie intake according to their breed, size and how active they are.
Zingy Jack Russells are going to burn much more calories than sofa-loving Pugs!
A sample of how many calories per day your puppy needs:
|Age of Puppy||Weight||CaloriesRequired||Weight||CaloriesRequired||Weight||CaloriesRequired||Weight||Calories Required|
How do I work out what to feed my puppy?
Okay. Are you sitting down? Grab yourself a cuppa and let’s dive in.
How much you should feed your puppy is based on several things:
· Your puppy’s current age
· Their breed
· Their current and expected weight
· Their general activity levels – spirited Cocker Spaniel or mellow St. Bernard?
· What food you are feeding them – wet, dry or raw food.
Factoring all of the above is going to give you the correct calorie amount. And now to the next question – just how nutrient rich and calorific is the food you’re currently feeding them?
Here’s a quick comparison of premium vs cheaper dog foods:
- Have a higher calorific content
- They’re nutrient dense – containing calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin D, which are all brilliant for developing strong teeth and bones.
- They usually contain better quality protein sources which keeps puppies feeling full
- Allow you to feed smaller quantities due to being more nutrient dense
- Smaller poos! As less food is wasted during digestion.
- Lower quality of protein sources
- They contain more empty fillers – designed to keep your puppy feeling full
- You’ll need to feed more of them (in terms of volume) to make sure they’re getting enough nutrients
- Bigger poos (yuck) – as more of the food is undigested.
To sum it up: Feeding your puppy premium food means they’ll get a better rate of digestibility. More digestibility means your puppy will absorb the nutrients better, and you’ll get less poo to clean up.
I think we can all agree it’s a win-win situation. If you’re getting piles of poo, consider upgrading your puppy’s food!
If you’re eager to have a full and precise food calculation only for your puppy, check out this handy calorie calculator.
But pssst! An easier solution is just to use our calculator, we’ve done all of the legwork for you. All you need to do is input your puppy’s age, breed, current weight and pick your puppy’s food from the list and voila we’ll tell you how much to feed them.
Do large breeds of puppies need more food than smaller puppies?
Well, yes. But also no.
Generally speaking, larger breeds need fewer calories per kilo of body weight. So in the end, you actually feed small breeds MORE (in terms of calories for their body weight) than large breeds – sometimes as much as twice as many calories are needed for a small breed of dog. Who woulda thunk it?
For example: Small breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers are highly energetic, have a much faster growth rate and are physically mature at around 12 months of age. However, larger breeds like Great Danes – the gentle giants – will have a much slower growth rate and don’t physically mature until they are around 2 years old.
So to round things up, large breed puppy food has lower calories per piece of kibble (as well as different amounts of vitamins and minerals), as we want steady and slow growth – because it takes large breeds longer to physically mature.
As for mental maturity, some big dogs just never seem to grow up – it’s why we love them!
But it *looks* like you feed a large breed more food than a smaller breed?
Yes, but it’s more of an optical illusion. It’s because large breed kibble is made to have a low calorific density – and larger breeds have bigger tummies too, of course! Although it might look like you are feeding smaller breeds much less kibble, it should have higher calories per gram – often almost double.
How much should I feed my Labrador puppy per day?
Do you have an always hungry Labrador puppy? No surprises there, scientists found that a quarter of Labrador retrievers actually have a mutated gene which makes them feel like they’re forever hungry. No wonder so many of them are called Dyson…..
We suggest Labradors be given large breed puppy food. This lets them have lower calorie density (so less energy dense) to encourage slow growth, while also giving them a good quantity to keep them fuller for longer.
How much should I feed my Cocker Spaniel puppy per day?
Cocker Spaniels belong to the Gundog group and are medium-sized dogs so you can feed them regular puppy food. They’ll reach full adult weight at around a year old but they’ll still continue to develop physically until they’re around 18-24 months. Lucky you, getting them to keep their puppy faces for longer.
How much should I feed my Border Collie per day?
Border Collies are in the pastoral – shepherding group in our ZigZag app. They reach adult weight by the time they are 12 – 15 months old and take much longer to mentally mature. Until they are 2 or 3 years old, you can look forward to them keeping their jolly puppy selves!
Being busy dogs that like to chase sheep all day, they will burn that energy off if out working in a field – not so much if they stay indoors on the sofa so take care with how much you feed them.
How much should I feed my Chihuahua puppy per day?
Chihuahuas are in the toy group of dogs and reach adult weight by the time they are around 10-12 months old.
Due to their small size, they find weight gain quite easy (don’t we all…) so you need to take care not to overfeed them. I know it probably won’t look like a lot of food in their bowl, but just think about how small chihuahua tummies are – can’t hold very much can they?
Some adult Chihuahuas benefit from eating small meals across the day rather than two large meals, so keep that in mind when dropping down your Chihuahuas meals as they get older.
How much should I feed my Beagle puppy per day?
Whippets are medium size and can be fed regular puppy food. Some can get fussy about what they eat, while some can be quite food motivated, so you’ll have to discover what yours is like.
Due to their lean appearance (don’t we all wish we could look like that), they typically carry less body fat than other breeds of dogs – this is because their job is to run and chase, so they burn a lot of calories tearing about the place!
How much should I feed my Large Breed puppy per day?
Large Breed Puppies like Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mastiffs or Bloodhounds need food with a lower calorie density to encourage slow growth. They won’t reach their full adult weight until they are around 2 years old, so we want to keep them growing steadily.
How much should I feed my Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy per day?
Staffies (yay! one from our own lands) are a medium-sized breed of dog, so they can be fed regular puppy food – they’ll reach their adult size at around 14 -16 months. Although they don’t tend to be fussy, obesity can be a problem in this breed. They’re brilliant beggars for table scraps, so make sure to resist the temptation to feed them your last chips. They probably know you won’t share your food with anyone but them.
FAQs – Puppy Food
Not sure how much raw food to feed your puppy? Makes sense, pieces of steak aren’t quite as measurable than kibble.
A healthy puppy should be fed on average 5-8% of their body weight per day – this will decrease as they get older, which you see on our lovely table below.
FOR EXAMPLE: A 10kg puppy would require 500 – 800g grams of puppy food per day. Remember that to get their raw food measurements right, you will need to regularly weigh your puppy, and adjust depending on their activity levels.
Important to remember: The smaller the breed, the higher percentage per body weight of food they will need. This is because smaller breeds grow at a faster rate than larger breeds, and will need more calories to keep up the pace.
You’ll need to feed roughly double the amount of wet food that you do dry. This is because wet puppy food is approximately 70% moisture, while dry food is only around 10%.
Wet food is wet because it contains, well, water. Quite a lot of it in fact, so you’ll need to feed a much larger quantity of wet food than you did dry kibble.
The back of the pack will tell you the right quantity you should be feeding your puppy – you’ll find that they’ve based it on their weight and their age. But if you’re really eager to know more about wet food, check out Purina’s handy guide. To get your puppy’s weight in lb, times their weight in kg by 2.2. Silly metric system.
We know the back of my dog food bag says, ‘adult weight’. Not sure why some brands expect you to see into the future and work on your puppy’s expected adult weight – but this calculator can be of great help. It will give you a rough idea of what your puppy’s adult weight is likely to be, based on their weight now.
Looks like maybe you will be able to see into the future now.
They can, but they shouldn’t as their entire diet.
Besides a higher calorie intake, puppies also need different levels of nutrients and vitamins which support essential rapid growth. Adult dogs, however, need more of a maintenance diet.
To make it plain and simple, we just recommend you feed them puppy food which is correct for their size and weight.
Don’t worry if your puppy steals some of your adult dog’s food though, it won’t make them grow excessively large canine teeth, or a third eye. It will probably just annoy your older dog, but by now, they probably know how to deal with your pup’s naughties.
But yes, do try to get them to eat their own food.
Your puppy should be on a complete puppy diet until they are around a year old. Here is a useful chart that tells you when to switch from puppy food to adult food for a medium dog.
PRO TIP: Larger breeds will likely stay on large-breed puppy food for longer, the lucky things!
Don’t forget your puppy needs to chew! Better give him edible chews such as Whimzies – they’re safe on puppy’s teeth, and will save your couch from being ripped to shreds.
You should also be using training treats to help you through the chewing– if this has been a struggle so far, make sure to read our article on what treats to use for your puppy.
Dogs aren’t designed to pick at food all day as they’re not grazers like cows. They also prefer to gorge down their food fast. Having a routine for their meal times will be great for their metabolism, and you’ll find it easier to work out when your puppy will need the toilet.
When they first come from the breeder’s they’ll likely be on 4 meals per day. Their stomachs are small and they’ll need a lot of calories to do all that growing. At around 12 weeks or so, this will drop down to three meals a day. Some will stay on 4 for a while though, not all puppies are the same!
Glad you asked. It’s good to know you’re aware of not overfeeding your puppy – pet obesity is increasing year on year with statistics saying that as many as 40% of UK dogs are overweight *gulp*. Still not bad as us though, seeing as 63% of the UK is on the heavier side of the scale.
If you’re feeding your puppy too much, you will soon see two changes in particular:
Changes in their body condition: They’ll start to get chubby in a non-baby fat kind of way!
More poo: If you’re overfeeding your puppy, you’ll see them going for a poo a lot more since they can’t absorb the food. Look out for runny poo – those have special appearances in overfed puppies too. Yum.
As a rough guideline you should be able to feel the ribs, and sometimes see the bottom two ribs depending on their breed.
I also like to use my hand to demonstrate how your puppy’s ribs should feel like:
Make a fist: Run your other hand flat against your knuckles. This is what it would feel if you felt every rib – and it also means your puppy might be a bit lean.
Turn that handover and lay it out flat palm up – Run the opposite hand over the inside of your open palm, below your fingers – ooh, looks like your puppy will have to lay off the pork pies for a while.
Hand out flat, knuckles facing up: Run the opposite hand over the knuckles. Roughly, this is how your puppy’s ribs should feel, with a small layer of fat on them.
If rubbing your hands just don’t do it for you, here’s a good chart on how to check your puppy’s weight. Essentially, what you want to look for is:
· A nipped in waist
· That you’re able to feel the ribs, spine and hips
· A small amount of fat that can still be felt
Not trying to make your puppy run for a beauty pageant, but he will look gorgeous when he’s healthy.
We hope this article helped you work out how much to feed your puppy – and hope we didn’t blind you with the science too much!
If you’d like to know more on puppy nutrition the Pet Food Manufacturers Association have produced a useful fact sheet.
Check out our article on puppy nutrition for more great advice.